Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Tempest Rising

Tracy Deebs
Paranormal Young Adult
352 pages
Walker Books for Young Readers
Available Now
Received via Teen Book Scene for review

Tempest Maguire has a decision to make. With her seventeenth birthday rapidly approaching, she knows her mermaid heritage is going to make itself known and she will need to choose between a life on land and a life at sea. For her, the decision is simple. She's human and she wants no part of the world her mother abandoned her and her family for years ago.

The pull of the ocean is incredibly strong however, and with the arrival of Kona, a young man who seems to know what she's going through, her easy decision becomes increasingly complicated. When Kona is threatened, Tempest doesn't even consider not coming to his aid by staying on land, instead diving into the water and temporarily embracing her mermaid half.

While in Kona's world, Tempest learns more about her mother and the life she returned to those years before, causing her anger over the abandonment to slightly abate as she finds herself in the middle of the same battle her mother left to fight. With each day, life as a mermaid feels more like home, but Tempest struggles more than ever with her decision, not wanting to be the second woman in their family to leave those she loves behind.

Tempest Rising is a deceptively dark read, those of us going into it with memories of cute Disney characters sure to be both surprised and pleased by the grim quality of Tempest's tale. There is no singing or fun crustacean sidekicks, instead we are faced with rather profound and intense emotional issues surrounding Tempest's mother's choice of duty over family and the lasting effects that decision has on Tempest's own impending choice between human and mermaid. Ms. Deebs beautifully illustrates both sides of Tempest's nature–effectively cleaving our hearts in two as we find ourselves as split in our thinking as young Tempest. We are grounded on land with her, enveloped in the comfort of home and family, but we are also simultaneously intrigued as Tempest is by the fanciful and unknown world beneath the waves beckoning us to explore.

While the epic decision Tempest is faced with is heart-wrenching in its depiction, Tempest herself is a bit difficult to connect with. We absolutely feel her pain and sense of betrayal at her mom's absence during a time when she most needs her guidance, but she has the frustrating tendency to expect things of others she's not willing to give herself. Her human boyfriend Mark desperately tries to get her to confide in him when she's thrown off-kilter by the emergence of some of her mermaid traits, but she continually shoves his attention away and denies him the trust he so desires. However, when Kona enters the picture and has information and answers she wants, she gets angry at him for keeping her in the dark as she did Mark, at times recognizing the parallel between Kona's actions with her and hers with Mark but somehow expecting different results when she's on the receiving end of the silence.

Additionally, the final battle between Kona, Tempest, and the sea witch leaves just a little to be desired. We are told of a prophecy in which a girl matching Tempest's description defeats one of the sea witch's greatest monsters and presumably destroys her as well, but there are so many questions we want answered only to find few of them are by the time we finish, almost as though we are merely being asked to believe what we're told as opposed to being made to believe with a little more history and detail. Tempest has extraordinary power, but we have no idea where it came from or why she is the first to possess the abilities that have made her a target for the sea witch, leaving us a bit detached from the action as our complete involvement is blocked by a lack of information.

Overall, Tempest Rising is an entertaining read, its subject matter a nice diversion from the vampires, werewolves, and fae, and its world one we certainly wouldn't mind returning to visit again. Tempest is a bit bothersome at times with her attitude and behavior, but as an older reader of young adult fiction, it's easy to forget that all my reactions and decisions at her age were not always rational and completely mature. Ms. Deebs is an author I will be watching in the future though and will read again if given the chance.

Rating: 3/5


  1. Great review, definitely sounds like the book is overall worth reading. Good thing, I have an ARC I need to hurry up and read :)

  2. Hm hm hm, I'm not sure if I want to read that one. Many people love mermaid stories but from all the supernatural creatures, I'm the least interested in them. But, your review makes me rethink.... I like a darker twist sometimes so I might give this a try anyway.

  3. I think connecting with the main character is important but the world sounds so interesting I might still give this a try. Great review Jenny :)

  4. Sounds..well good enough. Not something I would rush out to buy, but something I would borrow from the library if I found it

  5. I've heard good things about this one, but from what you said, I'm not sure if I'll connect with Tempest. This is released over here next month, so I'll definitely check it out then!

  6. Great review! I think the premise is refreshing as compared to the other PNR books out there, but this is not something I am too excited to read because of the mixed reactions.

  7. I'm fascinated by mermaids. And I've read a few good ones. I hate it when there are tons of unanswered questions at the end of the book. Such a turn-off.
    If you like dark mermaid books, check out Lost Voices. It was too dark for me though...and I can do dark.

  8. Mermaids, along with dragons, are up there with the paranormal creatures I don't want to read about. I'll be skipping this one, but great review! :P

  9. Allison - It was good because it was a bit different in the paranormal aspect, I just had a couple issues with Tempest:)

    Danny - I'd say it's probably one that can wait until you have a lull in your reading pile:) It was enjoyable and I liked that it was a bit darker, there were just a couple drawbacks.

    Nic - You should! I've read a lot of really positive reviews of this one, so it might be me:)

    Blodeuedd - That pretty much sums up my reaction to it!

    Leanna - Tempest was the main issue for me. I tried to make allowances for her due to her age, but I just wanted to yell at her sometimes.

    Misha - I liked the mermaid aspect, I wasn't sure if I would since this is the first one I've read, I just had some trouble with a lack of information and Tempest's behavior.

    Alison - Oooo I haven't tried that one yet. I enjoy dark too, but I'm curious to see what you consider too dark.

    Mollie - Haha I figured you probably wouldn't be interested in this one:)

  10. I think mermaids and fish folk are the new "go to" paranormals. I am glad to see that there is starting to be a little bit of everything out on the market both in YA and Adult!

    Great Review!

  11. I feel like everyone has read and enjoyed this book but me! Agh, need to read it. Thanks for the review Jenny!

  12. While Tempest Rising does sound like a fairly original tale about mermaids, it also hints of similarities to many of the other tales I have read just darker. The fact that the MC is not easy to relate too
    has me wondering if this is a book I really want to read.

  13. Wow- from the cover I thought this was about some tattoo paranormal thing, I had no clue it was mermaids...

    *fun crustacean sidekicks*
    --Sebastian gave me hours of crack ups....:P I love Siren/Mermaid/Under the sea books so I may try this one..

  14. Felicia - Me too, I like that we're getting such a fun variety of mythologies:)

    Savy - You're welcome, hope you get a chance to read it soon!

    Jan - It was enjoyable while I was reading, but it's not one that I thought of for days and days afterward you know?

    Tina - Haha well she does have a giant tattoo as part of her mermaid heritage:) And I adore Sebastian, he was always my favorite part.

  15. Nice review! I think I'll enjoy this one even though mermaids aren't really my thing! The cover scares me a little, scary tattoo!!!!

  16. I LOVED this one, although I can see why you had problems with Tempest's attitude.

  17. I like the idea of a darker mermaid story, but how many people are going to be surprised when the story isn't quite the cotton candy YA romance/adventure the cover seems to promise? I myself was surprised when you said it was a dark story.

  18. Katie - Thanks! It is a scary tattoo - it's enormous! It all makes sense when you read though:)

    Bailey - I've read a bunch of really positive reviews for this one, but I just had some trouble with Tempest. I wanted to like her but she made it difficult:) Loved the mermaid aspect though!

    Jennifer - I think you just hear the word "mermaid" and think happy and Disney and princess, but I liked that it was a bit darker. Not super dark, just not all sweetness and light either:)

  19. I SO can't decide if I want to read this or not! I DO... but I don't!

    And the thing is that I literally trust you like so hard that if she got on your nerves, then I KNOW she'll get on mine. Regardless of how I know I behaved at 17! :)


  20. It's a bummer that Tempest was difficult to connect to. Otherwise, though, Tempest Rising sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  21. Awe. Now my heart is bleeding for Mark. I hate it when the nice guy gets the shaft. :(

    And it seems like so much could have been down the the prophecy. Bum deal to hear that it finished with veiled answers.

    I've got this one sitting on my shelves, and I plan to read it, but at least now I know I don't have to rush. Thanks Jenny!

  22. Wow--this is a beautifully written review! I love the cover and premise of this book but haven't picked it up yet. Maybe a library check-out rather than a purchase, mostly because I like to connect with the characters.
    Happy Reading!
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  23. "Tempest is a bit bothersome at times with her attitude and behavior, but as an older reader of young adult fiction, it's easy to forget that all my reactions and decisions at her age were not always rational and completely mature." Um, so, she's like me in a bookstore? ***shame face***.

    Wonderfully written and very honest review, Jenny. She doesn't sound like my type of girl, either, although Mark sounds sweet. three stars from you is a "maybe someday' read for me, my dear, but I hold out hope that the sea witch's name could be Ursala.

  24. I don't really like the sound of Tempest (both here and from other reviews). I feel bad for Mark :( I don't like it when the MC is mean to nice guys.

  25. Ashley - If I could have smacked her over the head with her own book, I would have:) I get that this whole situation was extremely difficult for her, but I wanted her to see how she was treating those who cared about her.

    Lauren - It definitely is! I had fun reading it despite Tempest:)

    Missie - I know. I felt so bad for him. I wanted to bosom-hug him;)

    Mary - Thank you so much! I think the library is a good choice for this one:)

    Linds - I like to think I was the epitome of rational and amazingly mature in high school, but I think I probably wasn't:) And alas, the sea witch's name is Tiamat, not Ursala. Bummer.

    Small - She irked me that's for sure, and just worse than it might have been otherwise because Mark was so adorable and wanted to understand what was going on. Poor guy:(

  26. Great review! I haven't read too many books on mermaids yet so I have this one on my wishlist, but I'll be probably be getting it from the library since I don't like the sound of Tempest. Why would you expect someone to tell you their secrets when you can't even tell yours to your boyfriend? Mark sounds like a nice guy.

  27. I've heard such mixed reviews of this book and I really enjoyed your balanced view of it. I still want to read it, but will keep in mind her immaturity. I love mermaid books so I need to read it based on that, but I may borrow it from the library. Great review!

  28. Sounds like there's way more questions than answers. I don't really mind that for the first book but hope that we finally find out more about Tempest's powers in the sequel.

  29. Jenny-

    I'm sure its a great review, I'm just waiting to read it until after I read the book as it's coming up on the list.


  30. Fab review! This sounds interesting, but so far I haven’t had much luck with books that have mermaid main characters. Maybe I should just stick with Ariel ;)

  31. Although Tempest seems like a troublesome character that you had a hard time to relate to, the book does seem interesting. I think I'll shelve this one as a "maybe" read.

  32. I just cannot get past the mermaid thing. I know this makes me sound paranormally prejudice, but I can't help it. I will someday force myself to branch out into new frontiers :) Thanks for sharing today, I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  33. Now I want to watch the Little Mermaid! haha.

    I'm having problems connecting with characters in books lately, I just noticed this since you mentioned it in you review. It could just be the books I'm picking up...

    Great review Jenny! :)

  34. Not much of a mermaid fan, but you are right it's a nice diversion from the usual paranormal suspects! Great review :)

  35. How sad to hear that there are no crustacean sidekicks in this one. I would love to have a crabby friend, myself. Still, it might be nice to read a darker mermaid story.

  36. I had really high hopes for this book, but in all honesty I don't think that I will be able to handle not being able to connect to the main character. What. A. Booger. ;)

    Better add this one to the bottom of the TBR list!

    Thanks for the great review Jenny!

  37. This is almost EXACTLY how I felt about this book. There were parts that I really enjoyed, but I found Tempest to be pretty difficult to connect with. Thanks for the in-depth review! It's always nice to see someone else who shares your opinion! :)

  38. Yep, we agree on a lot. It was hard connecting with Tempest, but I really enjoyed the world. The ocean scenes were magnificent!

  39. I know this is obviously a very late coming comment, but I couldn't help it. I just finished this book today and I was having trouble deciding why I seem to be having such a love/hate relationship with it. I think it's got to do with the reasons you pointed out, not to mention that I generally dislike love triangles. And as I was reading I decided that I didn't particularly like Mark either. If he just wasn't in the story, I think I would totally love it, rather than only 90%.

    Also, I had to look and see if there was a sequel (which there is), and it looks like it should be good.