As you can see from the button on the side of the blog, I’m a member of Tera Lynn Childs’s Splash Team. I usually don’t join group like this because I’m a fuddy duddy (you can blame law school for that), but I think Tera’s books are special. There’s just a light happy quality about them that always makes me smile it’s like eating cotton candy. So needless to say, I was excited about reading and reviewing Just for Fins.
General Summary: After bonding (in name only) to Tellin, Lily is on a quest to help his kingdom and finds out that she is dealing with a lot more problems than she originally thought. Her problems don’t only include political issues in the underwater world, but issues with her relationship with Quince as well.
When I think of this series I think cute. It’s light reading. I know I’m not going to get the most complex of plots, but I still love reading these books. In fact, they’re probably my favorite mermaid series that’s out there in the YA world as of right now.
However, despite the fact that I love these books I did find some problems with this installment. For instance, let’s talk about sea puns. Although, not as heavily used as they were earlier in the series. I couldn’t help but cringe every time, every time something sea oriented was said. It reminded me of Lagoon Boy from Young Justice and I hate Lagoon Boy. And if you don’t understand what I’m saying because you don’t watch Young Justice, well, trust me he’s annoying especially when he calls his Martian girlfriend angelfish.
Yes, angelfish. It’s even worse than angel another term of endearment I can’t stand thanks to Edward Cullen and that Patch guy from Hush Hush.
Aside from the sea puns, the other issues I had with this novel included a lack of development in both plot and character. While I do think Lily has grown since the previous installments, the side and supporting characters just fall flat. Even Quince wasn’t as charming as he usually was. The plot was the same. I loved it, but I felt something was missing.
Okay, to be more precise I think there is a lack of balance between Lily’s surface and underwater life. Take for instance, Lily’s surface goals which were nothing-because mermaids don’t need college because their politics aren’t taught in universities. That might be true, but there are still other subject that would be beneficial for anyone ruling a country: math, science (which would really be important seeing what the plot was about), communication skills, even political science courses could have a place though it wouldn’t be mermaid related. And for that matter, I have to wonder do mermaids have universities? I also didn’t like how Quince’s lack of higher education was thrown to the side either. So, he has a job in construction. That’s great. Lots of people can be very successful with a construction job, but the security in these jobs isn’t that stellar. Especially in today’s economy. Realistically, Quince should at least try to take a couple of evening classes at a community college just so he could have an associates degree and have some security. I know, I’m being picky about this but this is something that really bothered me in the books (you can thank my social poverty class I took in college for that). Anyway, to get back to the original point I was trying to make, the surface world life and goals are thrown to the side for the sea. I just really wish there would’ve been a way to balance them together. And there sort of was…but it seemed like Tera didn’t want to take that direction with the books and I can sort of understand that.
Now let’s talk about the good stuff in the book. There were a lot of really nice things about this book. The world building was a solid as usual and I liked the fact that the environment played a part in this book in not an overly preachy Save the Whales sort of way. It was also a neat way to introduce the other mer kingdoms.
Best Feature: Relevance. I think this book talked about some pretty relevant world environmental issues which was refreshing. And Tera made it entertaining which was even more refreshing and a hard thing to do too, I would know since a big part of my internship this summer deals with environmental issues which at times can feel a bit monotonous. And she didn’t get too Captain Planet-y about it either which I had to appreciate.
Worst Feature: Lack of Overarching Plot: One of my biggest issues with these books is I feel that each of them could very well be a stand alone. Everything is neatly resolved at the end of the book and while that’s nice that’s not how real life or series work. While I do like that there is resolution to each installment, there is nothing making me want to read the next one like there is in Tera’s Sweet Venom series.
Appropriateness: This book is appropriate for all ages. It’s probably one of the best things about it. If I had a preteen I would be very comfortable with them reading this. There’s some kissing, but nothing except for that. And plus, I liked the fact that it talked about some real world issues. So there’s that as well.
Overall Ratings: Six out of ten fins. This was a fun book, but as an older reader I felt like I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would say twelve years ago. I still highly recommend these books for younger audiences, they are enjoyable but for older readers who want a meaty plot this might not be the series for you.