Waterfell by Amalie Howard

WaterfellWaterfell by Amalie Howard
Series: The Aquarathi #1
Published by: Harlequin Teen on October 29, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Mermaids, Romance
Pages: 360
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★


Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

Waterfell barely qualifies as a mermaid book. The problem is that Nerissa has spent most of her recent life on land, so about 95% of the book takes place on land, in high school, with high school drama, and high school love interests. There are a couple snippets of mermaid action near the end, or talks about this underwater kingdom, but they don’t feel real. Even the antagonist (Ehmora—the one who stole Nerissa’s kingdom) feels distant and far away, because we don’t physically meet her until the very end. So until then, it’s just a vague idea of some evil mermaid.

One of my biggest problems with Waterfell was Nerissa herself. For the first half of the book in particular, Nerissa was a raging bitch. I hated her. Mostly she was a complete bitch to Lo, but what really drove me nuts was that she had no reason to insult him so much. Lo was nice to her and she was just like, “OMG he’s so arrogant” (when he totally wasn’t) and was an ass to him.

I could never fall for a boy like Lo. He’s too self-confident and too amused all the time, like everything is part of some big joke.

“He’s so self-absorbed, it’s insane. He practically followed me here after the game.”

It irks me that he looks entirely too comfortable.

Lo is still completely arrogant.

…over and over again… Just look at what she’s saying. She was constantly looking for things about Lo to complain about. I mean, she’s annoyed that he looks too comfortable? Seriously? But the big thing was that Nerissa constantly called him arrogant and self-absorbed but he wasn’t. Lo was genuinely a nice guy.

Then, right after insulting him, she’d start drooling over him.

the fiery feeling still licking through my entire body at Lo’s nearness.

My attraction to this boy is skyrocketing with each passing second and the attempt to calm my nervous energy is only making me focus on it more.

And who knows what that might have turned into—me climbing on top of Lo and having my way with him or…

His simple touch ignites a flame in the pit of my stomach that spreads through my chest and into my limbs like wildfire.

I’m drawn to [his eyes] like water.

And all this was insta-love at its finest. Lo and Nerissa never really sit down and talk, they don’t get to know each other, and they don’t slowly get intimate. There’s a clear attraction immediately, Nerissa denies her feelings by insulting Lo, and then finally she gives in and they get all lusty. There’s barely a real relationship here. Although I kind of liked Lo at times, I also felt like his character was quite shallow—probably because we don’t actually learn much about him other than how his eyes are amazing and totally swim-able.

And when she wasn’t insulting him or drooling over him, she was complaining about how he didn’t like her, when he so obviously did.

he’s not interested.

One thing I found hilarious was this line from Nerissa:

I’m not the one with the bipolar mood swings.

And yet… see above. She was totally bipolar. One minute she hates Lo because he’s arrogant. The next she’s like, “Omg I love you and want to swim in your eyes.”

And from Lo’s perspective.. why did he like Nerissa? She was kind of a bitch, so why did he like her? Well we have this lovely reasoning:

“Because you intrigue me. There’s something so different about you. You’re not at all like any of the girls I know.”

Sigh. How many times have we heard that line in YA books? It’s just that standard insta-love reason: There’s something different about you.

In terms of writing, I found some of the lines at the end of the chapters to be so cheesy. I wish I highlighted more, but in the last half of the book I started highlighting a few of the last sentences in each chapter. It’s like the end of each chapter was very specifically written to be something intense and dramatic, but I thought they were a bit over-done. It made them feel… lame.

She won’t betray us. She can’t. Or she’ll have to die.

It’s not Ehmora that will be the death of me. It’s this boy.

Because one thing’s for certain… if I don’t, I’ll die.

And the last thing I’ll complain about is the twist at the end. It wasn’t necessarily a bad twist, but I thought it was so obvious. I called it almost at the very beginning. View Spoiler » I felt like it was a pretty obvious and typical twist. It’s exactly what you’d expect.

There were a few things that I kind of liked about Waterfell. For example, I liked Nerissa’s human friend Jenna. She was a little bit unrealistically smart, but she was kind of cool. I liked how intelligent she was and I even liked her boyfriend Sawyer. He kind of seemed like a big teddy bear (really sweet and nice, but not 100% all there lol).

Ultimately, Waterfell just weighed on my patience as the book went on. It started out okay, I tried to forgive the insta-love at first, but then Nerissa in particular just wore me down with her totally bitchy and bipolar attitude. And by the end of the book, I even lost interest in the overall plot and the whole idea of the mermaid kingdom. I was skimming the last like 20% of the book because I just wanted it to end.

The Verdict


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  1. Mm, now I’ve read two very opposite reviews for this book today. Last review raved about it…but your snippets from the book itself are kind of convincing me otherwise. Seriously, the “you’re different from everyone else” drives me up the wall! It doesn’t even mean anything!! Grr… The insta-love is a total turn-off for me too. But, who knows? I may still give this one a shot.
    Great review! (I love how you set out your reviews. Really easy to read and fun!)

    1. Yeah that drives me nuts too. I see it so often in YA lit and I’m sick of it. It’s not a real reason for liking someone! Especially when that person is just mean and annoying.

    1. Yeah I liked Jenna and her boyfriend. That was mostly it, hah. Such a bummer though 🙁 I had high hopes for this book..

  2. I haven’t seen many good reviews from this which makes me sad b/c I really liked it. It had some issues but overall I liked to story. I did want to hit Risa a few times, i have to say, she was a bit annoying. But I kind of overlooked it for the mystery and such. I did figure a few things out before the ending, but what can you do? Sorry you didn’t like it as much as I did.

    1. It’s not really worth finishing, in my opinion. 🙁 When I read it, I considered putting it down sooo many times and I wish I had!

  3. Haaaaaaated this book! I’m a grad student in biology, and let me tell you that they slaughtered every attempt to explain anything about these “mermaids.” Complete bullshit, those words do not mean what they think they mean and it drove me up the wall in addition to despising the insta-love and MC *sigh*

  4. YESYESYESYESYESYES! I agree with you 100% I thought the idea had such promise and it seemed like it would turn out to be really great, but then it didn’t go ANYWHERE. Literally the only thing I can remember liking is that Nerissa played field hockey like me lol. But the insta-love was so irritating and she definitely had some SERIOUS bipolar issues regarding her feelings towards Lo.

    Fantastic review, Ashley! I’m really sorry that you didn’t like this one D:

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Waterfell by Amalie Howard

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