Title: A Song Below Water
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Edition/Pages: Hardcover, 288 Pages
I’m so heartbroken that I didn’t love this book… I had such high expectations and while there some amazing elements and themes, I didn’t love the pacing, world building, or style choices.
Let’s start with what I enjoyed – because there definitely were things I loved! I loved how the author used mythical creatures to parallel race and comment on discrimination. By basing this world slightly in fantasy, it forces the reader to see these actions and comments through a new lens – which was brilliant in my opinion. I also like all the commentary and themes – this deals heavily with racism, victim-blaming, the justice system, and protesting. All things that are insanely relevant and need to be discussed, especially in YA literature!
And the sister-like bond between the 2 main characters was absolutely fantastic. They were so supportive and always there for each other. In fact I think their friendship (as well as the gargoyle) was my favorite part of this!
Unfortunately while this had themes I adored, I did not care for the execution of this book. First off, the pacing of this killed me. This started off so strong and pulled me right in. I was so curious about Effie and was desperate to learn more about her. But this book slowed to a painful crawl by the 30% mark… So many scenes felt erroneous and completely irrelevant to the plot. I was left wondering where this book was going and what it was trying to accomplish. The middle portion felt like I was re-reading the same comments, discussion, and sentences over and over. And once I got to the end, I was even more disappointed.
The world building was essentially non-existent which was frustrating since a huge part of this plot/reveal rested on understanding these mythical creatures. And I just never did. Since I had no understanding of this world, Effie’s big reveal fell completely flat. Introducing a creature the reader never knew existed, or could exist, does not a good reveal make. It wasn’t shocking because this world didn’t seem to have rules. New creatures were constantly being introduced or thrown in so I felt nothing over her reveal.
Overall this book was a miss for me and I’m going to be sad about it for a long while. I do want to read whatever this author writes next though! While I didn’t love how this book panned out, I think this is an author I could love – especially since their next 2 releases are a Little Women retelling and YA thriller!
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