Wednesday, April 15, 2020

TBR Challenge: Katy Regnery - Don't Speak

In this modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, a fisherman’s daughter from an Outer Banks island untouched by time, meets the son of North Carolina’s governor at a fancy party where she’s working.
Laire, who wants so much more from life than her little island can offer, is swept away by wealthy, sophisticated Erik, who is, in turn, entranced by her naiveté and charm. The two spend a whirlwind summer together that ends on the knife-point of heartbreak and forces them to go their separate ways.
Years later, when fate leads them back to one another, they will discover the terrifying depth of the secrets they kept from each other, and learn that shattered hearts can only be healed by a love that willfully refuses to die.

Comment: The world is crazy right now but thankfully for me, reading works best to distract me from real life. 
This month the challenge theme is Freebie which I interpreted as a book I got for free. I picked this title because it was offered to me through a site that, by registering, gives free ebooks by 12 authors, one per month. They tend to be contemporary and often the books are part of series...but, well, they are free. 
This one I got last year and since I had read another by the author a few years ago, also for the TBR challenge, I decided to give this one a go, however it wasn't as great as the other one I had read was.

In this attempted retelling of The Little Mermaid, we have the story of Laire and Erik, two very opposed people who shouldn't have anything in common but during a summer they spend together, they create a bond they wish lasts for life.
Laire is the daughter of a fisherman and lives in Corey Island, a very isolated place around the Outer Banks area in North Carolina (I looked for it but didn't find it, does anyone know if, perhaps, the author made that up?) where people still have a very limited idea of how the world must be like and the people in the island don't accept visitors very well nor do they accept those who leave to return as if nothing had happened.
Laire, however, has dreams of a different life and she gets a little taste of it when Erik, the son of the state's governor spends the summer in the family propriety in one of the nearby islands. They meet the day Laire is delivering some crabs for a party and they start going out together, although in secret of their parents. What happens doesn't end well until six or seven years later, when they reunite again...

This book is labeled as a retelling of a fairytale but in a modern setting. I wouldn't go as far as to say that, though, it reads more as an adaptation than a retelling. The author's choices in which way to present the story are clever but too far from the original for me to consider this a retelling.
The other book I had read by the author had been labeled like this too but now, after 7 or 8 "retellings", I think the idea is more obvious that this is just an adaptation.

The idea of this novel starts from the Little Mermaid tale, some little details are quite familiar and I suppose that is one way to create the link. 
The book is divided into two parts, which I see as before and after. The before section tells us how Laire and Erik met and how their relationship developed and misunderstandings ruined it and the after is seven years later when they randomly meet again and finally talk and patch things up.

I think the idea of dividing the story makes sense, so the reader can better see the changes in both main characters but the before takes too long! Too long! Why spending so much time with what happened? I don't think the author reached any sort of balance here because the interesting part, I'd say, is to see how the characters improved/were affected by their losses and how can they make things work now. Therefore, for me at least, a division of 70-30 more or less, isn't balanced enough.
It actually got a little annoying because between this and the surprisingly low execution of the «before» part, I don't think the author dis all she could to make this work.

The first part of the story, where we meet and start to understand the characters was really poorly done, in my opinion. The fact the main characters come from different backgrounds is not the issue but the way Laire is characterized as such an innocent that even in a island at 18 she doesn't know how sex happens? I mean....the initial dialogues between Laire and Erik didn't feel realistic at all, nor did the way they were showcased as so opposed by letting Laire be extremely naive.
The way their relationship developed initially had some sweet moments but everything took too long. I think the author could still have conveyed these things with less pages and more emotion between their interactions...sometimes, there were certain scenes that really got on my nerves by how silly they looked. 
I should say that, the difficulties in their being together right away were well portrayed and I did feel it might be too unlikely they could be a couple in those circumstances.

The second part, the «after» showed us more mature characters (still in their 20s though!), I liked this part better, I liked how the conflict didn't drag eternally but then, I couldn't avoid thinking this could have been sorted much sooner and in a completely different way. Some plot choices really feel contrived when we see how Laire and Erik talk and voilá, things are sorted, their lives make sense again...
There arr some aspects I liked overall and most of my appreciation of the book comes from this second part, where they don't let outside things affect their choices anymore. 

This story is based on a good idea (that's why fairytales still delights us) and some elements do work out, did make me interested in reading. However, as a whole, this isn't a completely strong book, the author could have planned everything a little better, in my opinion.
I don't think I'll read more by her, though, unless I find another freebie or at a really good bargain.
Grade: 5/10

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