The story is about Marina, an intelligent 16-year old who has spent her life learning from tutors or teaching herself as she traveled the world with her father, a brilliant man that develops agricultural techniques to help save starving nations. Marina never stepped foot in a real school, but now that her father is traveling to Afghanistan, he feels it’s best she stay with her aunt and at least try out a normal teenage life. But life in Aptos, Ca. is far from normal. Marina feels like she’s come home again the moment she steps foot in her aunt Abby’s house, and soon discovers that she has more of a connection to the place than she ever thought possible. Marina discovers new friends, new love, and new beings she never thought could exist, as well as a few shocking secrets about herself.
This book had so many great qualities, I don’t quite know where to start. First, the plot- I’ve never really read mermaid fiction before, so it was completely original to me. Beyond that, it was smoothly executed throughout the pages, never moving too fast or too slow. Every detail was revealed at precisely the right time in a wavelike rhythm not unlike the titular sea. Second- the writing was absolutely flawless, with the exception of one or two typos. Considering that I’ve read huge names that have more typos than this, I’d say that’s some pretty excellent editing! The dialogue was natural and the descriptions (especially of the clothes) were luscious.
Third, and most notable, were the characters. Every single one, from the main character Marina to the bit players like the mean girls and the surfers, were so well-drawn that they could have walked off the pages and into my living room, and I would have recognized them in an instant. Marina’s “aunt” Evie was, as the author described her, a “real life Auntie Mame,” and how I wish she was my fake aunt! Cruz’ passion for fashion and Megan’s melodious voice came through brilliantly. Aunt Abby was sweet and gentle, Shayla a bruiser bully with an extremely well-hidden soft underside.The love story between Marina and Ethan developed slowly, which I liked. It wasn’t an instant “oh, I love you, I need you, I can’t live without you” that tends to drive me batty. It was realistic and innocent.
This is the first book in Marina’s Tales, and it was mostly about a journey of discovery. I’ve already started the second one, and I’ll review that as well when I finish it, but so far it seems to be more about the conflict that arose from the result of this book’s journey. If you enjoy YA fantasy, strong characters, and great writing, you will enjoy Between the Land and the Sea. The book is available for Kindle on Amazon for just .99.