Title: Salt for Air
Author: M.C. Frank
Pub. Date: October 3, 2018
Greek mythology meets The Little Mermaid in this delicious fantasy novel about a quiet, nerdy girl who meets a mer prince in her bathroom. Perfect for fans of The Heroes of Olympus and the Lux series.
Seventeen-year-old Ellie dreams of mermen. She writes fanfiction about them and spends time in underwater kingdoms in her imagination, trying to escape the sad reality: she is an orphan. And not only that, but she’s bullied every day at school -she’s a nerd, she hates sports, she loves books and she used to be overweight. What’s not to bully?
One day, the bullies go too far. They try to drown her, but at the last minute an otherworldly creature shows up in the water. He keeps her breathing and tells her to live: “How will you be able to save anyone if you can’t even save yourself?”
She thinks it was a dream, but the emerald-eyed merman boy who rescued her appears in her school the next day. Is he really the exiled prince of an ancient kingdom that’s on the brink of utter destruction? And is he asking her to save him? Or is something far more sinister and deadly lurking in the water that surrounds her little Greek town?
When myth and reality collide, can love save their lives?
I’m not going to say this is a spoiler free review, because I don’t know exactly how I’m going to discuss this book. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. So, I’ll try and avoid big story ruining spoilers and will try to be vague, but I make no promises, because more or less I just want to vent about this book. So, this is your warning.
I’ll leave you with this. It wasn’t a bad book, but I didn’t think it was a good book. I was left disappointed, didn’t really care for the writing style or the characters. The plot was okay, interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but lacked enough that if I stopped reading it, it took a while to get back into it. IF you don’t want to be potentially spoiled for this book, stop reading now.
Spoiler-y/ranting part is coming up next.
I’m still so conflicted about this book, but I’m leaning more towards disappointed. I’ll be honest and say that I was enticed by the cover and had initially planned on buying it solely based on how gorgeous it is. Based on the synopsis, this book sounded exactly like something I’d love, and it wasn’t very long. I figured that I would be able to knock it out in a couple of hours.
It took me days to finish, and usually I would have just DNF’d it, but it was so short, and I wanted to give it a fair chance in the hopes that it got better towards the end. It wasn’t that the book was bad as a whole, once I got into it, I kept turning pages and got lost in the story, but anytime I had to put the book down, it took a while to get back into it.
I’m not sure if it was the way that it was written, or the pacing, or the characters, but I do think the author tried to execute some plot elements that just fell short, and therefore impacted the story as a whole.
I will say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character Ellie. I get that we were supposed to feel for her, be sympathetic, but I didn’t feel that way. At all. In the beginning of the book it’s almost emphasized that she lives in a tiny Greek town where everyone knows everyone else’s business, that nothing goes unnoticed or not gossiped about. Except apparently her being bullied to the point of nearly dying, and this isn’t the first time she’s been bullied to the point of physical harm or evidence of being attacked, and yet no one, not a single person bats an eye at this. No one in her school, no teachers, not even the people she’s living with. Ellie tells them all lies, but come on, no one gets their whole head and shirt and pants soaked by splashing water on their face. You will never convince me of that. For something so emphasized, it plays no part at all. Are all the adults in this town oblivious or stupid? Or maybe my expectations are different, but if you have eyes and a girl is getting nearly killed multiple times by brats at school, I think someone would notice.
Ellie was also the girl who, because she was so alone, stayed home and wrote her own fantasy fanfictions, and dreamt about a handsome prince coming to take her away and rescue her from her aloneness.
I also wasn’t a fan of the way the book was written, that Ellie talked to me (the reader). She was also very cynical and tried to stay under the radar, but it never really worked out of her. Maybe this was a way to really get us to connect with Ellie, to feel her pain as if she were confiding in us, but what (as the reader) can we do? We can’t reach into the book and protect her.
And speaking of protecting, let’s talk about Ky and how much of an asshole he was. He was the gorgeous, godlike good looks, with the body no high school boy should have, and shitty attitude new guy. The prince that Ellie fantasized about taking her away. If she only knew. It was the same guy who had saved her the day she had almost drowned in the toilet, the same beautiful, otherworldly eyes.
I was not a fan of Ky in the beginning, middle or end of this book. He came into Ellie’s life and just took over, demanding that she protect him, and that she just had to be okay with it. Of course, she accepts, because the new hottie popular guy in school can offer her some protection against the vicious bullies, she’s spent her life trying to avoid. But he’s not the nice, heroic, protective type. He has these moments where he’s fiercely protective of Ellie, but a lot of the time, he’s demeaning and mean to her.
There’s this back and forth between Ellie and Ky, one of hatred and then love, and their relationship went from wariness and infatuation on Ellie’s part, faked love on Ky’s part – to hatred and loathing – to true love, and it felt so rushed. I think it happened over a few weeks, but I didn’t find it very clear and it felt like insta-love which I’m not typically a fan of. Insta-lust, sure, but not love. You don’t just automatically fall in love with someone without some kind of fantastical involvement.
And speaking of the fantastical involvement in this book, i.e. Ky’s otherworldly secret identity that he can only (conveniently) reveal to one person, and “Congratulations Ellie, you are the Lucky Winner!”
We’re supposed to believe that all of Greek mythology is based on these creatures from another realm, a realm where death doesn’t exist, and it’s somehow managed to come to Earth and that’s why people die…
Ky’s been exiled for whatever reason, and he can’t go back home until he makes a sacrifice – something he leaves out when revealing himself to Ellie. It’s only by accident that Ellie finds out that she’s the sacrifice – sacrifice the girl to appease the gods! – and rightly so, when Ellie finds out, she’s livid. They had taken one look at her life, saw she was super alone, and picked her as the girl no one would miss if she just suddenly died…
Does that rub anyone else the wrong way?
But then Ky realizes that he *actually* loves her, and doesn’t want anything to happen to her, because ~ heart eyes ~ They are cosmically meant for each other, and Ky had been so wrong about her, and he was not sorry about everything that had already happened between them.
There still needs to be a sacrifice otherwise Ky will never get to go home and take his rightful place on his throne, and literally become The Ocean. Ellie is still refusing to sacrifice herself, as she should, but things are starting to get dicey. Creatures from this other realm, hell-bent on killing Ky have started appearing.
Ellie does some serious introspection and realizes that she could never be told to sacrifice herself for Ky, that if she were going to do so, then she had to make the choice.
Hey, Ellie, how about we just don’t die?
So, then one fateful day Ellie and her classmates are on a field trip, and those pesky evil creatures that want to kill Ky make a move and Ellie SACRIFICES herself to save him. Her reasoning is that she couldn’t bear to be a person to stands and watch someone die, so she did what she had to. The attempt on Ky’s life, leaves her severely battered and bruised – a head injury and spinal injury plus a myriad of other problems. Ky is besides himself that Ellie is dying, the typical “I can’t believe one body can hold this much blood” and “don’t leave me, I love you” all while sobbing with tears and snot pouring down his face.
Then we get the “GOTCHA!”
Ellie is alive, barely, in a hospital bed, unable to walk, not quite dead, but not quite alive. Ky refuses to leave her side, even though with her sacrifice he can go home, but won’t go without her, because * true love *
Can I just take a minute here – at this point in the novel, my eyes are just rolling around in my head, because OF COURSE Ellie didn’t die. It’s what? The second or third time she just ~ nearly ~ dies without actually dying? For a girl who is so ordinary, so plain, so alone, she spends an awfully lot of time escaping death’s clutches.
So, let’s fast forward a little bit, Ky tells Ellie that there’s a way to save her, because suddenly Ellie is really, truly, honestly dying, and now it’s a mad dash to save her life. And to do so, she would have to leave Earth behind and become one of them – like Ky – a mermaid, merperson – tbh I don’t remember was phrase they used in the book. HER WISH COME TRUE. (I mean I get it, we all wish that, but come on.)
So Ky takes her out to the water and submerges her, because she basically has to die a mortal death – i.e. drown – to start her new life. Only there’s a catch! In order to save her life, Ky has to sacrifice his own!
Didn’t see that one coming did you, DID YOU.
Fast forward again, and one of Ky’s family members, his sister, but not his sister – listen it’s complicated – gives her life for his, because she’s lived for thousands and thousands of years, and a lot of Greek mythology is based off of her. So now we’re playing Musical Chairs: Life Edition, Ky and Ellie get to be together, but she can’t really ever come back to earth, but that’s okay because she’s with the love of her life.
The book ends on a happy note, Ellie is no longer alone, and she gets to live out her fantasy in a world where death doesn’t exist. Her life is just perfect.
I didn’t intend for this review to digress into a rant, but I’m not sorry it did. I find that so often I try to censor myself when it comes to reviews, but maybe sometimes I just need to let it go and be snarky and honest.
I didn’t know exactly how I was going to review this book, because I was so conflicted in my thoughts on it. I was so disappointed in it, and didn’t understand why? How? I was so upset with what this book was. Maybe I expected one thing and didn’t get it, or maybe my expectations got away from me. Whatever the reason is, I’m still not really 100% sure, but I do feel better having gotten all of this off my chest.
I have another book by the same author – and maybe it was premature for me to buy it before having read Salt for Air, but I do plan on reading it, and maybe I’ll love it. I don’t think the author is a bad writer. Despite the fact that this book sounded perfect for me, maybe it wasn’t for me. Maybe I missed some big underlying message that the reader was supposed to get out of it. But again, I didn’t. I read a book that had the potential to be so good, but ultimately fell flat.
The reason I’m giving the book a solid 3 out of 5 is because I did keep me interested and I was able to finish it. I feel like it wouldn’t really be fair to rate it lower, because again, it’s not a bad book.
Maybe if it had been slightly longer, if the characters had better arcs, or more time to interact with one another, maybe if things had been explained a little better, I wouldn’t have had so many issues, but as it stand, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. But if you think it’s something you might like, then it doesn’t hurt to give it a go. I’ve found some of my favorite books that way, and you have a 50/50 shot of loving or hating it.