29 October 2012

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.
My first experience with Jackson Pearce's work came many, many years ago with her novel, As You Wish.  As a know-it-all fourteen-year-old, I wasn't that impressed and I never finished it.  It was too short and too kiddy for the likes of me.  Now, after having read Sisters Red, Sweetly, and now Fathomless, I'm intensely curious about that first book I picked up.  I have had my mind blown -- yet again -- by Jackson Pearce's amazingly creative talent for capturing a breathtaking story within three hundred pages.

Like Sweetly, Fathomless kept me up way past my bedtime.  I couldn't let go of Celia and Lo's story, or the world of ocean girls and power triplets.  In retrospect, I'm amazed at how much atmosphere was packed in with the plot and character development.  Almost as if those aspects were fused together, and not separate things.  Short books don't generally appeal to me because they're like a single inch of a foot long idea: they don't reach their full potential.  Jackson Pearce defies this idea.  She establishes atmosphere, character and plot very compactly -- not "quickly," as if she rushes it, but "compactly."  She doesn't waste words.
My sisters love this place.

It smells like sand and cigarettes and cotton candy, like sunscreen and salt.  The scent builds up all summer, and now, at the height of tourist season, it's so thick that I think I could wave an empty bottle around and it would fill with liquid perfume.
She also doesn't fall back on the typical, well-worn templates that lazy writers use.  Jackson Pearce got deep into the characters' minds and strung out every flaw and imperfection that made them human, or inhuman, as the case may be.  I loved the psychological battles that raged between Celia and Lo, as well as Celia and her sisters.  Celia and Lo each had their own motivations -- Lo fought with being human, Celia fought with her power; Celia was one of a triplet, but the odd one out -- and their internal battles inherently affected their relationship.  Those aspects drew me in the most.  They mimicked the same kind of undercurrents that run underneath everyday conversations and interactions.  So even though Celia can read someone's past and Lo is a creature of the deep, the relationships they had with their family and friends bore the same complications and intricacies of real-life situations.

I liked how the romance both did and did not take center stage.  The romance between Celia and Jude was sweet and well-developed without being the main purpose of the story.  The romance, however, was practically the driving force of the plot.  Had there been no Jude, the ending would've fallen apart.  I liked this duality because it's not something I've seen often, and Jackson Pearce pulled it off extremely well by focusing attention on the ups and downs of the plot.

I loved how Jackson Pearce went in and owned this story.  I was pulled in from page one and I couldn't stop thinking about the story until I finally finished it.  I think this story would fit anyone's interests, whether you like contemporary fiction or paranormal romances, even if you don't like mermaid stories (because it's just enough of a mermaid story to appeal to those who loved The Little Mermaid and just unique enough to suit those who didn't.)

When it rains, it's beautiful under the water.  It's like the sky and the ocean and the clouds are all connected as we lie on the deck of the Glasgow and stare up at the waves that rock far above us.  They look dangerous even in a small rainstorm like this.  They look beautiful.  They remind us that the ocean isn't something we've tamed, just because we're a part of it. (p. 106)
My name is Lo.  I have dozens of sisters.  I live underwater.  My feet bleed when I walk on land, but I know beauty under the waves better than any human.  I used to be a girl, but now I am this. (p. 264)
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 304 
  • published - September 2012
  • publisher - Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - Barnes & Noble
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Fairytale Retellings
    • Sisters Red
    • Sweetly
    • Fathomless