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Captivate by Vanessa Garden
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Buy from: Harlequin Aus website

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim. Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

A copy was provided by HarlequinTEEN Australia in exchange for an honest review.

BREATHTAKING UNDERWATWER COVER!!!

Should've known better, right? To be fair, it wasn't particularly bad, but it was definitely strange and cliché.

The book reminded me a lot of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (the 'kidnapping to be made a bride for the king' part) and Renegade by J.A. Souders (the 'underwater city surrounded by dark mysteries' part). Sadly, I did not like this book as much as I liked the two aforementioned books.

Captivate doesn't waste time getting to the action. By action, I mean the kidnapping (that sounds so wrong). So, we don't get to know the dynamics of Miranda's relationship with her sister and her grandparents very well. While I appreciate the 'hit the ground rolling' opening, it was hard for me to feel Miranda's desperation to go back home because I wasn't being shown the strength of her family bond. Granted, we were told that Miranda harbours a secret she's been intending to tell her sister, Lauren and she wants to seek her forgiveness, but I think it helps if a brief details of Miranda's relationship with Lauren before their parents died was provided so that the readers can establish an emotional connection with Miranda.

Well, I was hoping for that so, so much because honestly, I did not like Lauren at all, so if only I could learn something good about her, then I could probably empathise more with Miranda and her wish to be back home. Here's Lauren's quote that irritates me so much;

Mum always used to say I had the metabolism of a racehorse-"With the stumpy body of a Shetland pony", Lauren would add with a smirk.

WHAT KIND OF OLDER SISTER TALKS TO HER YOUNGER SISTER LIKE THAT? Uh.

***spoilers ahead***And let's face it. Their parents death was IMO Lauren's fault. I'm 100% agree that she should have never leave Miranda alone on her birthday. But playing dumb for over a year, letting Miranda feels the guilt and never tries to make amend before Miranda confesses to her is just vain.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT KIND OF OLDER SISTER TREATS HER YOUNGER SISTER LIKE THAT?***spoilers finished***

Alright, enough about Lauren.

At first, I found Miranda as easy to like. She is cautious and sceptical of everyone she meets in Marin. She doesn't only say she wants to go home, she takes actions - she tries to remember Marin's layout, she plans her next moves, she gets to the good side of people who might help her escape and praise da lord, she doesn't get attracted to ANY male beings in Marin although they are well, kinda hot.

At first.

***mild spoilers ahead***

Now, please explain me what happened from Chapter Twenty and onwards? If the book was sort of 'yeah, okay, maybe' before that, after this chapter the book just takes a sharp dive into the abyss the of the deepest hell-hole. Like, seriously. The book threw me off so badly, I was even wondering if a different author had wrote this last third of the book.

Miranda suddenly loses her ability to think straight, makes bad decisions after bad decisions. AND SHE LIES. SO.MANY.FREAKING.TIMES.

Also, she suddenly gets attracted to both Marko and to some extent, Robbie. Marko is basically the kidnapper for the first two-third of the book, and honestly, I don't think he's making any significant efforts to make Miranda likes her, so yeah, when in Chapter Twenty, they are throwing the love word all around, I was like 'whaaaaaat'?. Only after that that they are beginning to really warming up to each other. Isn't that bizarre?

Anyway, they were a few things I noticed that make this book a bit ethically questionable.

1. Stockholm Syndrome is an icky subject. And I don't think the book handles this theme really well. Captivate tries to romanticise kidnapping too much and that doesn't sit very well to me. I remember reading Stolen by Lucy Christopher which kinda romanticises kidnapping as well but in the end, it still hammers down the message that kidnapping is wrong. The fact that the whole city agrees to the kidnapping, that is just disturbing, no matter how desperate you are.

2. My inner feminism raged when Miranda was kidnapped (of course) and ***spoilers ahead*** when she was forced to be brought back home. The argument was that it's dangerous for her to stay but giving her a less than one day notice before she will be brought home and denying her plea to stay when she really wants to help is just arrogant. AND HONESTLY! THEY NEVER THINK OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT PROBABLY IT'S THE MEN THAT ARE IMPOTENT?

3. When Stephanie pleads to Miranda for Phillippe's life, Miranda says that Stephanie owes her, that just pissed me off. SAVING SOMEONE'S LIFE WHEN THEY DON'T DESERVE TO DIE DOESN'T MEAN YOU OWE THAT PERSON ANYTHING. And what's up with the 'feeding to the shark' sentence. That is uncivilised for a so called self-sustaining civilisation.***spoilers finished***

4. If it's feasible for Marin to trade everything for pearls, I don't understand why it's not feasible to just offer a girl to come WILLINGLY to Marin for diplomatic or charitable reasons. If the girl doesn't like it, then let her go and offer another girl. I'm sure they can sign an agreement or something to keep the secret. There MUST be a girl who would've enjoy living underwater (someone who hates meat and sunlight and has no family for example) instead of ripping a random girl from her family. Ugh.

5. Fertility dance. I'm not sure if this is ethically questionable. It's just bizarre.

Anyway, there are a still a few unanswered mysteries and the story could be heading towards a darker path in Book 2. So since I got a copy of Impulse as well, I will be reading the sequel soon.

Two unimpressed faces

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