Madly - M. Leighton I wasn't really impressed with this book, to be honest. I was originally quite shocked by how short it was, but was prepared to give it a chance nonetheless.

Spoilers beyond!

For some foggy reason I have been really digging the idea of mermaid books lately, but I am new to the genre and have no idea where to start. I happened to be browsing the free downloads section on my Kobo late last night, and found this - it's free and if anything, it only costs me some time, so it couldn't hurt to give it a chance.

I'm pretty wary of the free books, as the quality can be a little less-than-spectacular - however, the actual mechanical quality of the writing was really quite good, I couldn't find all that much fault with it. I don't recall running across a single mistake, and it really made me happy to see an author with a free book that was written so well. So huge props for that!

I'm not gonna lie though, most of my notes about this were indeed what I considered to be faults:

I grew very disdainful of Madly as soon as a) I found out her name, and b) found out she has 'waist-long blonde hair'. The protagonists in way too many stories of all genres are white and blonde (although I don't actually recall if her skin was mentioned at all, so I suppose it's not all that fair for me to assume), and frankly I'm quite sick of seeing it. Why not make her fun? Why not make her have short, half-shaved hair, the remainder of it dyed green? Why not make her more alternative? Do all princesses need to be so white and blonde and 'perfect', especially in a modern-based setting? No, they don't. It is not particularly pleasant for me to read about.

It makes no sense for her scales to cover so much of her body when she transforms. It seriously doesn't. What's the point of having boobs if they're not there for a reason? If her scales cover them, how are they supposed to be used? Nudity is not offensive, and when handled right in YA books is not presented as such and, in my opinion, should not be avoided or skirted around. It would be enormously refreshing to see more YA books that took less of a prude-ish approach to this sort of thing.

The characters came off to me as unfortunately pointless. The story was too short and moved far too quickly for me to ever form any sort of attachment to them, and little was done to present them as unique and interesting. By the end of the book, all I was left with were these wobbly, baseless and generally unappealing personalities. Aidan was vapid and bland, and that one remark he made in class ('Ooo, is that a threat? 'Cause, you know, nothing turns me on more than a girl with an attitude.') made me want him to die in a fire. Jersey strikes me as whiny, air-headed and not all that smart, simply because there really wasn't anything that showed up to counter that. Jackson was a straight-up arrogant dick and I can't understand why any self-respecting girl could end up liking him. Madly had very little character, and more than once liked pulling the 'but I'm a princess' card when she didn't get what she wanted. She was far too comfortable letting Jackson do everything for her and she seemed entirely unable or unwilling to stand on her own two feet. I couldn't understand at all why she seemingly was leading Aidan on as well, despite being extremely aware that she didn't have feelings for him. She was also as blind as balls for Jackson's feelings, wow.

A lot of the story and world-building made absolutely no sense to me. For starters, this is about mermaids, yet we only see mer-ness once in the story, and it doesn't last for very long. Why make a story about mer-folk and yet have them be normal people for essentially all of the story? Magic was also involved - this could just as well have been about witches, fae folk, demons, see where I'm getting with this. I wasn't feeling the mer aspect to the story, and that was a damn shame. Also, the concept that they needed to go up on dry land for...whatever reasons entirely escaped me. They apparently completed something like a college level of education before surfacing and going back to school because...? The descendants were absolutely not explained either, though I assumed they would be touched upon in the sequel. Are they normal humans? Do they know about the mer around them? Why are they in Slumber if Slumber is hidden from humans? Am I missing a bunch of stuff here? Not to mention that mysterious voice that popped up into Madly's head while she was listening to her iPod. (I cannot get past that, I'm sorry. I just bloody can't) Don't just chuck that out there if it's not going to be extrapolated.

Basically, this story moved far, far too damn quickly for me to ease into it. The characters were given no time at all to breathe and let us know them, and as such I cared not a jot for the lot of them. There was no hook at all in this book, nothing at all to grab my attention. The promise of interesting antagonists also fell flat; there was nothing to compare these bad cats to, and even if the main three had sat down together and discussed their worries about the situation, we would've understood the antagonists a hell of a lot more, and the protagonists would have had some precious time to develop.

All in all, I have to give this a solid two stars because the technical side of the writing really was quite good. Could it have been better? Absolutely, but it was way better than what I was expecting. The major failing of this book was indeed with the creative side and although it had potential, it wasn't up to scratch.