Author: Michael Buckley
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Age: YA 13+
This is the first book in a trilogy that wrapped up earlier this year. I started it on audio but finished it on ebook because I couldn't wait to finish listening to it.
Our main character is 16 year old Lyric Walker. She lives in Coney Island, New York and recently her town has been over run by mermaids.
The Alpha showed up one the beach about three years ago when the story begins. Since then nothing has been the same. The Alpha are a race of merpeople covered in scales, slimy skin, body armor, with magic powers, and their own language. There are many different species of Alpha including Sirena, Ceto, Nix, Feige, Selkie, and Triton. The Alpha were forced out of their hunting grounds by one of their own species, the Rusalka. The Rusalka have the ability to control the ocean and they can hear the Voice of the Great Abyss.
Since arriving on the beach the humans haven't exactly been welcoming to the "fish heads" as they call the Alpha. The Alpha are in a camp of sorts inside Coney Island that has been called The Zone by the media. No one can come or go, even the human residents. It was decided by the government tat Alpha teenagers should integrate with society by attending high school. Between the crazy, hateful mobs, flashing paparazzi cameras, and the National Guard presence school isn't quite normal.
Doyle the new school principal has a plan to learn more about the Alpha and he does so by blackmailing Lyric. He knows about Lyric and her family's secret, but Lyric is willing to do anything to keep her family safe & get them out of The Zone. Lyric is assigned to Fathom, tell prince of the Alpha. She is supposed to meet with him everyday to learn more about the Alpha culture & teach him about being human.
Through their talks Lyric learns more about her past, why the Alpha came to the surface, & what will happen in the near future. In the meantime there is a gang at the school called the Niners, and they are causing trouble in the halls and on the streets. Bex, who is Lyric's best friend, is having trouble at home with her abusive stepfather, people are going missing, & a close friend of the girls gets killed in the crossfire.
Lyric is doing everything she can to get her family and Bex out of The Zone, while keeping their secret safe. But can she leave Fathom & the Alpha behind to meet their fate, or will she finally learn the truth about herself while getting caught in the undertow?
Likes: This is a fantasy colliding with reality, other worldly Little Mermaid kind of story. One of the best parts is getting to see something real- life, death, the media, gangs, the police, the government, High school drama, crazy neighbors, etc.
There is a little bit of a love story that develops but is not the main point & I like that for a change.
It was a short book, less than 300 pages. I'm hoping to see a big change in book 2 with the story developing more.
Dislikes: I didn't personally mind this but a younger or more sensitive reader might dislike all the violence.