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Howard, Amalie. Waterfell Book 1 of The Aquarathi.

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Howard, Amalie. Waterfell Book 1 of The Aquarathi. Harlequin Teen, 2013. 368p. $9.99 Trade pb. 978-0-373-21105-0.

Nerissa Marin is not human, but she is posing as a high school junior at Dover Prep until she experiences Dvija, the Aquarathi coming-of-age transformation. The Aquarathi are an ocean species struggling to survive the pressures placed on their watery environment by humans. How to address the continuing deterioration of their home is the source of much strife among the royal courts. Since Nerissa is not only not human, but also heir to the Aquarathi throne, the conflict that precipitated her father's murder is not waiting for her return but is headed directly for Nerissa and the California surfing community she has called home for several years. Rissa, as her human friends know her, is a reluctant princess, however, and would much prefer retaining her human form, BFF, and sizzling hot boyfriend to taking up her responsibility as Aquarathi's queen. Rissa must face a human and magical coming of age, the evil usurper of her throne, and the rescue of her species.

There is little to recommend this title. Nerissa has few redeeming qualities, which makes all the attention she attracts ring false. If Howard were shooting for strong but conflicted, she fell desperately short at self-absorbed and ugly-mean. If her character's growth was meant to captivate the reader, it takes far too long to get started. The same goes for the central plot line; well over inethird of the novel is wasted on snarky tiffs amid surfer teens, none of whom are more than superficial. The plight of the Aquarathi is inappropriately eclipsed by petty and unrealistic teen banter. The characters involved in the larger conflict are even less developed, resort to predictable behavior, and ultimately fail to make even the battle scenes engaging. Howard's audience is smarter and deserves better.--Lauri J. Vaughan.

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Author:Vaughan, Lauri J.
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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