Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Captivate by Vanessa Garden(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

You know what?  I didn’t expect to like Captivate as much as I did.  The only reason I really took a chance on it was the fantastic cover.  Sometimes, as I’ve found out, you can judge a book by its cover.

At first I thought this would be a mermaid book.  In hindsight I’m not quite sure why I thought that but it turns out that this book is more science fiction than fantasy.  I don’t want to give the big reveal away but it turns out mermaids and science intertwine in the history of the city, even if it’s not in the way you expect.  The history of it is fascinating and I like how they maintain some customs from the surface while at the same time their culture evolves to suit their environment.  It makes it a lot more realistic, believe me.

The one thing I was surprised to like was the characters.  I know it sounds so much like your typical love triangle but it isn’t.  The actions of Miranda make sense given her situation and her guilt over her parents’ death but the reactions of Robbie and Marko surprised me the most.  They aren’t solely motivated by love, like a lot of love interests are.  They are also motivated by family, duty and honour and it’s much more complicated (and believable) than your traditional oh-no-I-like-two-boys-and-they-like-me love triangle.  There’s more to Robbie and Marko than meets the eye and Miranda has quite a few surprises up her sleeves as well.

There were some plot twists that I had no idea were coming.  Vanessa Garden seems to have almost totally departed from traditional YA formula when it comes to plot twists.  It’s shocking.  I completely did not see the ending coming and I was pleasantly surprised with Miranda.  She stayed true to herself throughout the novel but at the same time was able to admit when she was wrong.  And most importantly of all, she learns to slowly forgive herself for her parents’ deaths.

It’s a fascinating story and I can’t wait for the rest of the Submerged Sun series to come out, even though Captivate was just published this year.  We can expect big things from Vanessa Garden in the future, that’s for sure!  If you’re looking for some interesting science fiction, a little bit of romance and a fast plot look no further than Captivate.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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