Author: Vanessa Garden
I will be completely honest with you, the major reason I picked up this book is because the cover is absolutely gorgeous and has been calling out to me since the minute it hit my desk. I resisted the temptation as long as I possibly could because it’s a January release but I could simply resist no longer, not to mention I started seeing lots of reviews pop up and my interest became overwhelming.
Captivate has got great potential, it is quite a unique story with some very original elements. It also however has some very stereotypical YA elements which did detract from the novel living up to its full potential.
Miranda Sun is on the verge of her seventeenth birthday and her life is pretty much in tatters, she lost her parents in a fatal car accident on her sixteenth birthday which also destroyed her close relationship with her older sister Lauren. The two now live with their grandparents who take the family away for a holiday to celebrate Miranda’s birthday at their shack at Bob’s Bay.
A midnight swim goes horribly wrong when Miranda is dragged under by forceful arms, kissed by a prickly chinned stranger allowing her to suck in much needed oxygen and then blacks out before waking up in a strange place – that is destined to become ever stranger.
It turns out that Miranda has been taken to an underwater city in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, a city that was discovered accidentally and re-colonised with people from across the world. Founding father Frano Tollin was a deep sea explorer who came across the city in his quest to find a mermaid.
All the pieces seem set to drag us into a world of mermaids from here but it never happens. These are all human characters living in an underwater world with oxygen piped in from above, flora has been coaxed to grow and some fauna has even been transplanted. A gorgeous underwater utopia with most of the comforts of home. The menu is decidedly seafood based though they have devised a way to grow hydroponic vegetables.
Marin is a kingdom at risk, young King Marko’s older half-brother has been banished but is determined to overthrow Marko and take the throne. To save his throne Marko must take a wife and there is no-one suitable in Marin, which is why his personal guard was sent out into the ocean to bring back a prospective wife for him.
Miranda is not happy about having been kidnapped and is very much against the idea of marrying a stranger, whether it’s to save a civilisation or not. She desperately wants to get back home and make things right with her sister, and save her grandparents from any more grief after their loss of her parents.
Robbie is Marko’s personal guard and it is he assigned to guard Miranda at all times, which has the two of them spending a great deal of time together and a friendship blossoming – as Miranda learns to put aside the fact that it was Robbie who kidnapped her.
Much about Captivate complete intrigued me and I would have liked to learn more. We were fed tidbits of information about Marin and how it came to be colonised but I would have liked to know more about how the world worked. I understand that not all is known about the original civilisation of the city but there was so much more to what is going on in the current colonisation that we just weren’t aware of and the holes it left were quite large. Marko is a character with many unplumbed depths, we never really got to know him. We know he is doing what he has to do for his kingdom and that’s his motivator but I just feel there could have been much more to him.
I enjoyed Captivate, I think it’s a great story with lots of promise, and it certainly left me with a desire to know what comes next. I found it quite slow to begin with and it took me quite a while to really get involved but once it gathered momentum I enjoyed it but it still left me wanting more, more understanding of this city below the ocean and how it works, how they trade, how they have remained undiscovered and how new arrivals grow so accustomed.
There were a couple of secondary storylines that were left under-explored and I would have really liked them fleshed out also, some could be explored further in consequent books if there are any (which I do hope there will be at least one) but there is one that seems to be irrevocably closed which leaves me with questions unable to be answered.
A quick, light read with great imagination and a stunning cover that left me asking what happens next…. hopefully there will be a sequel that answers that question.