Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Of Neptune is the final installment in the Syrena trilogy. Emma has returned to land with Galen and his brother Grom. While the two brothers argue inside the beach house about Rachel's death, Emma wanders alone at the beach trying to collect her thoughts. Emma's grandfather, King Antonis arrives at the seashore to speak with her and makes a startling revelation. He tells Emma that when her mother, Nalia, disappeared and was thought dead, one of the trackers, Baruk, thought he had felt her mother's pulse. The pulse eventually disappeared and Baruk urged Antonis to consider her dead. However, King Antonis could not bring himself to do this. He continued to search for her, eventually moving inland and that's when he uncovered something unique - a town called Neptune, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He wants Emma to visit this town when she takes her trip with Galen.

While Emma's mother, Nalia, has now partnered with Grom and they have decided to return to the sea, Emma and Galen take off on a road trip to spend time together. Grom is not happy about his brother spending time alone with Emma because he fears that there will be rumours about them not respecting the laws about not mating before their ceremony.

Emma has asked Galen that their mating ceremony wait until after they have completed college. However, Galen is anxious to secure Emma as his mate and really doesn't want to wait three years. But he recognizes that it is very important for him and Emma to follow the law to its limits because they need to regain the trust of the kingdoms in the royal family.

Emma and Galen set out on their journey. Emma changes their destination from the Cascade Mountains to the Smoky Mountains and unknown to Galen, is set upon trying to find this mysterious town of Neptune. She has no real reason why Antonis wants her to visit it but she knows she must. They stop to explore the springs near their destination and end up going for a swim in a river with caves in the Smoky Mountains. During their exploration of a cave, they are shocked to meet another Syrena, a boy named Reed who is obviously a Half-Breed and who tells them he is from Neptune. Against Galen's wishes, but at Emma's urging, Reed takes them his parents home in Neptune. Reed tells them that there are many Half-Breeds in Neptune, as well as full-blooded Syrena and humans.

Galen cannot understand how Neptune has been able to go undetected by the Trackers, especially someone like Toraf who is able to sense Syrena anywhere in the world. The only other community like that of Neptune was Tartessos which was destroyed by General Triton thousands of years ago. General Triton destroyed all the half-breed children of General Poseidon and all of the full-blooded Syrena returned to the ocean.

Emma and Galen take rooms at the local bed and breakfast, Sylvia's Starfish Bed and Breakfast and later on have dinner with Reed's parents, his father Reder Conway, a full-blooded Syrena who is leader of the Neptune community and his human mother, Lauren. Reed recognizes that Galen is an ocean Syrena because of his pulse and he also recognizes the royal trident on his stomach as marking him a royal. Although Reed's parents are very friendly, Galen becomes jealous of Reed's obvious attraction to Emma.

After dinner, Galen and Emma quarrel about their plans for the future. With the discovery of Neptune, everything seems to have changed between them. Galen tells Emma he doesn't want to attend college and he wants to have their mating ceremony and return to the ocean with her. However this is not what Emma wants because she cannot breathe for long periods of time underwater. Galen leaves Emma in Neptune and heads back to Grom and Triton, intending to tell them of Neptune's existence. Emma pleads with Galen not to tell Grom about Neptune and the Half-Breeds because she is certain the Syrena will come to Neptune and kill everyone.

Despite Emma's pleas, Galen leaves but never makes it to Grom. Instead he is captured by a Syrena in the woods outside of Neptune. Meanwhile, Emma spends time with Reed getting to learn about the town and beginning to establish a friendship with him. Reed is very interested in Emma and offers the possibility to Emma of her choosing him over Galen.

What Emma does not know is that Galen has been captured by a Syrena known as Tyrden. Tyrden recognizes that Galen is a Royal and begins torturing and interrogating Galen about Jagen and Paca's attempts to overthrow the Royals. During his time with Galen, Tyrden reveals how the plot to overthrown the Triton kingdom came about with his meeting with Jagen and how he trained Paca to work assimilate on land with humans.

When Galen does not return Emma's phone calls and her mother tells Emma that Galen has not arrived back home, she begins to suspect that something has happened to him. Emma's  mother is worried about her and she manages to get Emma to reveal where she is. At this point Emma approaches Reed and tells him she is certain Galen is missing. At the Huddle, a town meeting of the Neptune Syrena and Half-Breeds, Emma is welcomed and search parties are set up to try to find Galen.

Can Emma save Galen in time and also save Neptune from possible destruction by the Kingdoms?

Of Neptune continues the saga of the Syrena and the two kingdoms, only this time there are revelations about the Syrena on land. Although events were tied up nicely in the second novel, Of Triton, this third novel focuses on the history of the Syrena and how it relates to the future and the significance of Emma being accepted by the Syrena kingdoms.

Emma as a Half-Breed has been accepted into the Syrena, but this is the first time in their history that they have accepted a Half-Breed. Her grandfather Antonis comes to her revealing the existence of a town, Neptune that she needs to visit. When Emma arrives in Neptune she discovers a town filled with people like her - half Syrena, half human and accepted by both. She also meets a Half-Breed young man, Reed who shows immediate interest in her. This causes Galen to doubt her choice to be his mate, leading him to wonder if this now gives Emma a second option - to live life in Neptune, possibly with Reed. This feeling of conflict leads the two to quarrel and sets up the events that follow.

Separated from each other, they must both determine if their original decision is still valid in light of these new events. Emma discovers that she has not acknowledged Galen's pain over Rachel's death and that his desire for her to live with him in the ocean is the desire to be together and live a long life. Meanwhile Galen, struggling to overcome his feelings of jealousy towards the attention Reed is giving Emma, realizes that he has been pushing Emma towards a life she cannot live. The strong conflict between them is eventually resolved and serves to strengthen their relationship.

Paralleling this personal conflict is the conflict between the full blooded Syrena in the Poseidon and Triton kingdoms and their intolerance of Half-Breeds. Neptune, it turns out is one of many towns throughout the world filled with both Half-Breeds and full-blooded Syrena. Antonis's purpose in sending Emma to Neptune was twofold; partly for her to discover others like herself, but also to try to unite all the Syrena, full-blooded and Half-Breeds, those on land and those in the ocean. the intolerance towards half-blooded Syrena needs to end, because some day the Syrena, whose existence has (mysteriously) not been revealed to the world, will someday be and Antonis and others recognize that all the Syrena need to be united.

In this way Of Neptune explores the theme of working together to resolve conflicts on both a personal and social level as well as the theme of intolerance or bigotry towards those who are perceived as somehow "less" than others.

What I felt was missing from this novel were the strong secondary characters Banks had created in the first two novels, Toraf, Grom, Rayna and Nalia, who do make an appearance in the opening and closing of the novel. Instead we have two villains in the novel and a rather creepy,unlikable character in Reed Conway.

Readers however, will be satisfied with the romantic ending to this unique series and of course the romantic cover.

Book Details:
Of Neptune by Anna Banks
New York: Feiwel and Friends Book 2014
327 pp.

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