Waterfell (The Aquarathi - Book 1) - Amalie Howard

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Amalie Howard’s Waterfell is a unique tale with great world building that expertly blends elements from both supernatural and sci-fi. However, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I should have, and I think that has an awful lot to do with the MC.

Because whilst the world building was clear, concise, and well thought out, and the writing is undoubtedly very good, Nerissa is an extremely hard character to connect with. And I’m going to try and explain why I didn’t like her very much.

- she’s so full of selfishness and haughtiness and, even brought up as the royalty she is, it just wasn’t a strong enough reason for her behaviour and attitude to be acceptable. Royalty can still be a strong leader without being an a$$ about it, and considering it sounds as though this is exactly the kind of example her father, the king, showed her, she still behaves like an a$$. Even when she’s feeling remorseful and worrying her father might not be proud of her, she still somehow manages to behave like an a$$. She treats her friends and what family (legal guardians) she has like poo, she treats Lo like poo … in fact, the only person she doesn’t treat like poo is her best pal Jenna. Fortunately, this singular believable, relatable, and redeemable relationship kept me turning the pages.

- there are also times in this book where she acts incredibly stupid. I’m not just talking about the times when her actions also seem to be driven by combined selfishness and lack of regard for anyone else’s feelings, because there are other times of stupid in there, too. One of the biggest ones, which I considered to be a BIG issue with regards to how the reader will view Nerissa’s intelligence, is [spoiler alert] when she first sees Lo at school outside Cano’s office, and he remains outside whilst she heads in … and her mobile beeps with a text … from him … and she wonders for a moment where he got her number from …. And this is the end of even thinking about something she *should* have been highly suspicious about. Even when she leaves Cano’s office, she doesn’t question where he got her number. Nor any of the other billion times they talk throughout the rest of the book. Unfortunately, this happened VERY early on in the story, which meant I spent quite a long time wondering a) when she was going to call him on it, b) why she hadn’t called him on it, c) how can she be so neglectful when she’s supposed to have her guard up, d) why has this been overlooked—to the point it refused to leave my head for the entire rest of the read, which was somewhat annoying.[end spoiler]

- the fact that, in her narration, she constantly reminds the reader in some way or another of her royal status, or her heir to the throne status, or I am a royal princess and all status … and I couldn’t decide if it was there for clarification purposes, but it almost came off with the vibe of ‘I’m royalty, readers, and y’all hadn’t better forget it’, which only seemed to enhance that haughtiness of hers, but it was like she was being haughty with me as well as her pals and family. Ridiculous? Mebbe. But I’m just saying how I felt.

- her redemption. Well, I guess after my griping, you might be wondering if Nerissa actually had any redeeming features, eh? Actually, she does redeem herself. However, it isn’t until right at the very end, after she’s wondered why one of her buddies has betrayed her (this is after she spent most of the book being a prized B**** to him), that she steps up to the mark—and I couldn’t help feel as though maybe it was too little too late.

Okay, not related to Nerissa’s character flaws that made me dislike her is another bugbear of mine.[spoiler alert] The book spends so long—and I mean right from the very beginning long—ensuring the reader is suspicious of Lo. When this happens, I want it to be wrong. I want the book to have convinced me to be so focused on the red herring that when the real ‘bad guy’ pops out of the woodwork I can be, like, ‘didn’t see that one coming, dude. However, the entire book we are led (with a collar around our throats and a vice grip on our chins) to focus our suspicions on Lo, only for Lo to be as dodgy as we’ve played him up to be in our minds. And because I’d got my sights pegged on Lo, I’d pretty much unravelled the entire ‘who’s behind the scenes’ of it all before we were even hit with it, too.[end spoiler]Which is a real shame, because there’s nothing I like more when I’m reading than to be surprised. There’s no chance of that in Waterfell, whatsoever. I mean, I’m all for a bit of foreshadowing sticking doubts in my head, but this was a smack up the face with what was to come right from the very beginning. Let me just say, though, that this didn’t retract from how much I liked Lo—because Lo is adorable, for sure.

So, now I guess you’re wondering why I continued reading to the end, and how I’ve brought myself to rate this one a 3 with all of my moaning. Well, for all its faults, Waterfell is a decent read. Ms Howard’s descriptions are TOP NOTCH. There was not a single scene within this book that my brain couldn’t conjure imagery for. From the ocean scenes, to the sea creature descriptions, to the action scenes—I knew exactly what was happening every step of the way. On top of that, despite the totally predicted (from me) reveal, the ending of this one with regards to the romance was unpredictable. And, although I quit reading the excerpt of book two I spotted in the back pretty sharpish, I saw enough in the tiny amount I did read to understand that I’m going to want to read on. Because somehow, despite severely disliking Nerissa for a VERY long time, I still managed to become invested in the characters. So, yep, I’m going to be continuing on their journey. If only for more of Lo’s adorableness.