Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Series: Fairytale Retellings #3
Review By: Lili
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.
In all honesty, I have no idea what to think of this one. I liked some parts, I disliked other parts, but I also was confused with some aspects. I know no other word to describe this novel besides convoluted. It’s complex and hard to follow at times, while it’s just…too simple other times. Overall, I’d have to say it was average—a nice read to grab from the library if you want something that is oddly unique and definitely unparalleled in that sense.
I got excited about reading this book because, as the series name so clearly suggests, it’s a fairytale retelling and the fairytale it is loosely based off of is The Little Mermaid. I wanted to read this book solely based on that piece of information. But now that I am done with the book, I have no clue what tale of the Little Mermaid Pearce based this off of. Perhaps there’s a different one floating around out there that I don’t know about, but I went into this book expecting one thing and receiving something entirely different. There are no fins, no mermaids, and no princes coming to take the girls away. Instead there are girls with no memories and blue skin that live underwater, aging so that one-day they can become angels or monsters. While this was fascinating, it made several aspects of the novel hard to follow and made the hinting of a love triangle in the synopsis misleading.
What did I enjoy? Celia and Jude. I felt bad for Celia based entirely on the fact that she was the black sheep of her set of triplets, all of which had unexplained magical powers (are they supposed to parallel the three Fates or something?), though hers was considered the most useless since she can’t see the future or anything like that, she can only see the past—something that cannot be changed. Out of all the characters, she is the only one I could relate to and fully enjoy, though she was a bit immature at times. I also enjoyed Jude and his love of music, as well as his love of Celia attributed to Nightingale Syndrome because he fell in love with his savior. While I thought that was a really cute touch, it could have been played out better, and instead came across to me as a clever disguise for a case of insta-love.
While Lo’s characterization gave way to mesmerizing descriptions of what is hiding from us underwater, I didn’t like her character that much. Nor did I enjoy Naida. See, Naida was the name of Lo while she was still human before she became the underwater girl she is now and forgot her previous life as Naida. Then when Naida awakens, these two girls share a body. The personalities aren’t that much different because they both switch from being really nice to being really evil. The transition between the two was instantaneous and hard to follow. This is an aspect of the novel that tended to confuse me more than anything else. And when we finally learned the truth behind Lo’s creation, I was shocked. It was unexpected, which I really enjoyed, but it also went unexplained. Why the people that changed her were doing what they did was never revealed. Little things like this frustrated me immensely because I felt very under informed.
All in all, this is the type of book to grab from the library if you’re looking for something unique. It has a lot of creativity poured into it that could have made a better novel if some ideas were better fleshed out. Was I blown away? No. Was it still a decent, good read that is worth a shot? Yes. My one recommendation would be to avoid going into it with the thoughts of a fairytale re-telling. In my eyes, I don’t think this counts as one, so instead go into it with the idea of a unique fantasy. In that sense, I think it will be more enjoyed.