August 14, 2007

Breathing Underwater, Part II

Fey, wild, full of half-fearful fancies (she doesn't trust Tuesdays) and wearing one blue and one slightly off-colored blue sock, Undine is the last girl in Hobart you might expect to be ...magical. Exasperating Lou, her mother, worrying her best friend, Trout's mother with her endless bursting into his boy-next-door bedroom, Undine is erratic and attractive but -- typical.

Until the Tuesday she begins hearing voices.

Though Undine is deeply worried that she's more than a little atypical, the worst worry is that she's ...crazy. A bit dangerous, even. Her reliable friendship with Trout, the safe haven of her mother and baby brother, and even her anonymity from the boys at school suddenly all changes in one fell swoop -- too fast. Like an onrushing tide, Undine finds that she has a father, a power, and -- what? What's it all for? What's it all about?

This first book of the Undine trilogy is balances suspense and a distorted, shifting world with an ordinary girl and a life stuffed full of the normal stuff - arguments with her mother, the death of a stepdad, an annoying but cute little brother, and a best friend battling a huge crush. The dialogue moves the plot along at a reasonable pace, and though the conclusion is a bit of a happily-ever-after wrap up, the idea of a sequel means that readers know that Undine's finding the perfect balance of life and magic can't possibly be the very end. What about Max, the anonymous online person Trout told about Undine's secret? What about her father, Prospero? And truly, what about Undine's power?

I'd love to say that "all will be revealed" in the sequel, but that's not exactly true. Both more and less is revealed, and now that the third in the trilogy has been published, I am waiting for its US debut. Undine, and its sequel, Breathe, are stories dealing with relationships and power, its agency to corrupt or change us, and its uses. This has been a multilayered and interesting trilogy, and I'll be interested to see its conclusion.

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