Review: Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Tracy Deeb's website here // $10.25 from {amazon}
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2011)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: Publisher
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: When I think Tempest Rising, I think denial. That six-letter word that makes you want to slap some sense into the main character? The one that sometimes rears its ugly face one hundred times to often in paranormal reads? Yeah, that’s the one. That’s not to say Tempest Rising is without its merits, but overall, I enjoyed the book much less than I could have due to Tempest’s continual denial.

So what is Tempest denying? Essentially it’s as the summary says, she denies her attraction to Kai and her mermaid heritage. I can understand denial, and I do admit that Tempest has a lot to handle in a very short amount of time. I admire her determination and bravery, I really do. But emotional bravery is another thing entirely. There’s a point in life where you have to stop running and either accept or face reality, a concept Tempest doesn’t seem to comprehend until the last ten or so pages. Even then, I still didn’t feel she truly confronted some necessary issues, issues concerning family and friends. I put the book down extremely discontented, feeling 3958 times more bothered with the lack of closure than in cliff-hanger endings. My reaction after turning the last page was literally, “...what? That can’t be it,” because the last fifty pages are like a snowball rolling down a hill. One minute I think she’s a long way from emotional recovery, the next minute she finds happiness and flits away. As horrid as it sounds, I was actually glad for the tragedy towards the end because Tempest needs to realize the consequences for her actions; everyone seemed to let her get away with anything, and that frustrated me to no end.

I may as well get the negative over with and talk about my issues with Tempest Rising’s plot. The plot was fairly formulaic: girl finds out she’s a mermaid, struggles between land and water, meets hot selkie/merman, faces down evil sea witch, *cue happily ever after music.* There are some unique aspects, however, that really interested me. To clarify, I’m talking about the huge sea-people eating octopus and Tempest’s storm-whipping powers, both intriguing underwater features that were mentioned a few times but not really explored. I think the problem contributing to that could be when Tempest finally enters the underwater world, which isn’t until nearly halfway. With the addition of witch-y action, the following half was a huge relief and improvement from Tempest’s internal seesaw, but again, that was halfway. You have to get through the tedious first half, you know, first. It was in the middle fourth that I really saw Tracy Deebs’s creativity and skill at crafting a rich world and nifty ideas, and if Tempest Rising could be stretched out, I would gladly read another hundred or so pages of underwater action.

As for the romance aspect... sigh, I have such conflicted feelings over it. On the one hand, Kai is absolutely perfect. He’s a lean, mean (as in seriously skilled) surfing machine that has a heart of gold. Infinitely patient, sensitive, and mystical, what more could a girl ask for? On the other hand, we have Kai and Tempests’ relationship. Other than me doubting that Tempest completely deserves Kai, I wasn’t quite taken in by their “love.” I felt like it was passed off as this intense attraction and feeling of “belonging” that I had a difficult time fully supporting, especially since it’s a love triangle. Although Kai is swoon-worthy, provides the stability that Tempest so needs, and constantly engages in playful, enjoyable banter with her, so I guess I’ll have to mark the romance as a positive overall. It’s pretty cute.

Okay, so there’s one last, small thing that keeps on making me twitch awkwardly: Tempest’s inclination to call everything “sexy,” particularly at inopportune moments. Almost drowning, then noticing your best friend’s “sexy” voice as you’re dragged barely breathing to shore? Just a bit strange. We all have our quirks though, and I guess that one’s Tempest’s. (The writing as a whole is normal and flows well.)

In general, Tempest Rising is still an occasionally enjoyable read. The beginning and ending failed to impress me, but the middle was exciting and very promising. Tempest Rising was like the tide: it had its cute moments and it had its flat ones. I definitely saw potential and will look into its sequel, even if the first in the series didn’t nearly satisfy my mermaid cravings.

Romance: PG
Cover: It's not stunning, but it's still very pretty with its blend of blues and purples and the beautiful tattoo. The model looks more delicate than I would have imagined Tempest to be though.

Liked: Kai, underwater world, evil witch action
Disliked: not enough of the underwater world and evil witch action, plot progression, ending, Tempest, lack of substantial emotional connection (even after deaths) 

Bottom Line: Tempest Rising is a decent book, especially for a debut YA author, but it needs much more to set it apart from other mermaid novels out there. Though maybe it'll be your cup of tea, so check it out if you're into mermaids. They don't come around that often, and I definitely hope to see many more mermaids in Tracy Deebs's writing future!

The view from the other side:
My Overstuffed Bookshelf (4 stars)
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read!

p.s. Search mermaid up on and you will get stunning results, I promise.