Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book Review: Teardrop by Lauren Kate

I've been asking myself these days why exactly I love reading YA novels so much. Admittedly, they're not as "deep" or "philosophical" as the so-called "real literature" novels (bear the excessive air quotes with me), yet there's something about that them that's enchanting and invigorating about them. After finishing up Lauren Kate's new book "Teardrop", I think I found the answer to that question. YA novels, in the simplest and most exciting manner, give us hope. They remind us that things like love, loss, friendship and self-discovery are things that everyone has gone or will go through--even if you're not a kick-ass soldier in a corrupt government or a seemingly ordinary girl who possesses otherworldly powers. That, I think, is the most powerful thing any book of any genre can do: provide mirrors for us to see into our the possibilities in our own lives from the comfort of our beds. I mean, what could be greater and more magical than that? Now, for lack of a smooth segue, let me just move on to the book itself (oops).

For seventeen years, Eureka has grown up without crying. Never, ever cry. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things and people she held dear to her heart hold no more meaning, and the last thing she will ever do is let anyone close enough to feel her pain. Eureka will do anything to escape, save for one thing that holds her back: Ander, the mysterious boy with turquoise eyes that speaks of the ocean who seems to be wherever she goes. And when she uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl whose tears drowned an entire continent, Eureka knows there's no escape, no disappearing. Suddenly her mother's death and Ander's appearance seem connected, and her life threatens to slip under dark undercurrents that will change her forever.

Eureka is a pretty awesome protagonist to follow throughout "Teardrop"--I mean, come on. Her name says it all. She's definitely a somewhat grittier main character than your average YA heroine, exemplified by the fact that she tells us from page one that she attempted suicide because of her mom's death. Putting the macabre aside, Eureka also has a hard time trusting people, even her own dad, who had remarried someone else after he and her mom got divorced. It was really interesting to see their relationship develop throughout the novel, in ways that were both sweet and sad at the same time. I think it's these weaknesses which make Eureka not only an interesting heroine, but a real one, one who struggles with her shortcomings and all the other sucky things in life, and, because of this, one you can relate to. Yet despite her tougher side, she's also undeniably compassionate, vulnerable and independent, a complex mix of different aspects to her personality which make her all the more real. Her loyalty to her best friends, Brooks and Cat, and her love for her twin half-siblings and dad really capture her strength in character, and I think Ms. Kate has done an amazing job in creating such an awesome heroine.

I did, however, feel like Eureka almost crossed the annoying "holy moly this guy is cute, but ooh the other one is really hot too" line at times with Ander and Brooks. Almost. Luckily, though, she never actually crossed that line, thanks to her believable explications and thoughts that we see through her first-person perspective. It also probably has something to do with the characters of these two prospective contenders-of-love themselves. On one hand, you have the mysterious, ocean-eyed Ander, whose sudden appearance in Eureka's life definitely shakes things up and makes her question her undeniable attraction to this stranger. On the other, you have the familiar, best friend (but maybe more?) Brooks. Brooks, more so than the pretty perfect Ander, was an interesting, but at times frustrating, character to read about for me, with his complicated portrayal with mixed signals (all will be the book!). While there was, and maybe still is, definitely some risky potential for the love triangle to fall into the tropes of most YA romances, I think--and can only hope!--that Eureka has a better head on her shoulders than that.

Just as she did in her "Fallen" series, I think Ms. Kate has created an exciting and unique storyline in "Teardrop". By taking the age-old legend of Atlantis and putting her own spin on it, she creates a world that I can't wait to jump into in the next book, since all of "Teardrop" is firmly rooted in the human world for now. The idea of the prophecy of the girl whose tears have the great power to change the fate of the world was the main driving force for the tension in the novel, and I don't think I've flipped through the book so quickly in a while! The plot is, without a doubt, compelling, with new developments popping up in a great pace, and there really never was a dull moment. I think it's also gruesomely great that Ms. Kate isn't afraid to tinge her stories with a little gore here and there, which helps to elevate the stakes of the characters' actions and decisions.

Overall, "Teardrop" is an exhilarating story with a strong heroine, an awesome cast of characters, and an intriguing plot that keeps you hooked throughout. I highly recommend this book to any "Fallen" fans, or any reader looking for a fresh YA novel to sink their teeth into. Now all that's left is to wait for the sequel...

Rating: 5/5

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