Review and author interview by Jane Lee, grade 11


Emerge by Tobie Easton

Ever since the Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality, war has ravaged the seven seas. Lia Nautilus is part of a secret community of land dwelling Mer that has taken refuge along the Malibu coast. In order to keep this community safe, she must limit contact with all non-Mer. However, when Lia finds out that another Mer girl is using banned ancient magic called sirening to control Lia’s crush, Clay,  Lia risks exposing her secret to stop her.

As a kid growing up watching Disney movies and wishing I had hair like the princesses, I really really loved the unique addition of the Little Mermaid in this story. I thought the author was really creative by writing a modern day story of the descendants of the Little Mermaid. The plot was good, but I thought it was very predictable and I wished there was something more. The narrative is in Lia’s point of view and even though she does embody a strong female character, I would actually sigh sometimes because of how annoyed I was with her. One character I really loved however, was Caspian, Lia’s childhood friend. Till the very end, Caspian (super attractive) proved to be a loyal friend that truly cared about Lia. The story ends nicely and I was impressed with how Lia balanced both her family and her own beliefs together.

Overall, I thought this book was super creative and I enjoyed Tobie Easton’s development of the whole story. If you’re looking for a book with mermaids, adventure, romance, and a strong female character, I recommend Emerge. 4/5 STARS

Interview with the author

What was your favorite part/ chapter to write and why?

I have two.  The part that immediately pops into my head is when Lia goes down to the grottos for the first time.  A system of secret caves and underwater tunnels lies hidden underneath the beachfront estates in Lia’s community.  So, when Lia takes us from the upper levels of her home down into these sparkling grottos, it’s our first peek into the world of Mermaids.  This is when the book starts to get magical.

My favorite scene overall is one that’s hard to describe without spoilers, so here’s my very carefully worded version: Clay drops by Lia’s house unexpectedly while she’s in the swimming pool, and he may or may not catch a glimpse of her tail.

Team Clay or Team Caspian?

I love them both!  I took all my absolute favorite qualities and divvied them up between Clay and Caspian.  I will say, I think Lia and Clay can learn the most from each other and grow together as a couple.  But I really have a soft spot for Caspian because he’s the one who always takes me by surprise.  He’s reserved, so it’s easy to underestimate him, but he’s so observant and caring—and he sincerely values learning, which is a trait I can’t resist.   If I’m writing a scene and it doesn’t work, brining Caspian in always fixes it (which is probably why he plays such an important role in the sequel, Submerge).

If you could identify yourself with anyone in this book who would it be?

All my characters have at least some small piece of me (which I think is how I connect to each one of them and find their voices).  Lia, the protagonist, is a lot like I was in high school in terms of the way she thinks and how she expresses herself.  Her oldest sister Emeraldine is a lot like I am now.  Both consider love invaluable.  I also really relate to Caspian’s love of learning.  And I wish I were as cool and witty as Lia’s twin sisters, Lapis and Lazuli.

If you were in Lia’s position, would you siren Clay or tell your parents?

This question I’m purposely not going to answer—but I have a good reason!  One important element of the book is its moral ambiguity, which is something we all have to learn to cope with more as we grow older.  So, I want each reader to make up their own mind.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

When I was six, I saw frog legs on a menu once and insisted on trying them.  The flavor was okay (garlic!), but the texture was very rubbery.

Do you have any other works you are working on right now

I’m currently writing Submerge, Book 2 in the Mer Chronicles.  Guys!  So much happens!  I can’t reveal too many details yet, but I will tell you we’ll learn more about the characters from Emerge and we’ll see new, unexpected sides to them.  There are also new characters I’m SO excited for you to meet.  Submerge really raises the stakes and the emotional tension of the series.  And, of course, it includes my two favorite things: magic and kissing!

What has been the toughest criticism and compliment you’ve been given as an author?

It’s funny—different people tend to criticize and compliment the exact same elements of any given story.  A plot point or character that one person dislikes will be the same one that makes another reader fall in love with a book.  That’s why as a writer, you ultimately need to trust yourself to tell the story you most want to read.  It won’t please everyone, but the people who need it will find something real in it.

Do you have a special time to write or do you write whenever something comes to mind?

I set aside time every day—usually after a nice cup of green tea.  Making writing a part of your daily routine is the only reliable way I know of to finish a book—and it also lets your brain know when it’s time to tune out the noise and unleash the creativity.

Are you a person that makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?

I totally don’t see the point!

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