Content/Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, anger issues (from a side character), manipulation anxiety depictions, depression, trauma
I truly wish I would have loved this graphic novel. I truly do, but it wasn’t in my cards when I first started this series and it’s still not looking good now. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why many readers love this series. The world is fascinating, the characters are interesting, and there’s still so much we don’t know. However, there’s a lot of details that I just couldn’t over look. Maybe I’m too much of a critical reader, but one thing is for sure, this didn’t improve my feelings about a lot of things in this series.
Spring break is on the horizon for the town of Blitheton and with spring break comes the highly anticipated mermaid festival. Julie, our werewolf barista, and her girlfriend, Selena are ready to have a wonderful day together! There’s just one catch, actually, make that several. With the new introduction of an uninvited friend, a mysterious force that keeps randomly appearing, and Julie’s friend appearing to pass along an omen, what could possibly go wrong? Everything.
Let’s start with some of the good things I loved about this graphic novel. As usual, I love a lot of the side characters. Cass is probably my ride or die for this entire series. Not to mention, I love that we get new characters introduced into this series. Of course the artwork is absolutely stunning. The cover and the art has been one of the biggest things for me about this series. Also, we have a lot of diversity within this series. From f/f relationship between our two main characters, a side m/m romance, on page plus-size characters and BIPOC characters, to the recently added disability representation, this graphic novel does a fantastic job at delivering diversity.
“Sometimes it’s better in the long run for things to turn out differently than you expected.”
Despite the good things I have to say about this graphic novel, there are still some lasting issues that haven’t been resolved since the first volume. When this series first started, I love the concept of Julie and Selena being the couple of focus for this graphic novel. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how the relationship wasn’t perfect. However, now that we’re on volume three, I feel like there should have been some form of growth, some learning, or something. Instead, we’re still given a toxic relationship that is fueled by lack of communication, anger, and jealousy. The fact that in the first two volumes we’re given scenes of physical fights between the two main characters and now in volume three they’re still fighting, and refusing to work through their problems isn’t something I want to be reading about. This is the third volume in the series and this is the kind of relationship that can make an impressions on young readers. It’s not my cup of tea and the author should have done something to improve the relationship instead continuing to portray an unhealthy relationship between two young adults.
My second issue with this graphic novel is the fact one of the side characters hasn’t seen any personal growth either. They suffer from really bad aggression/anger issues and they’re constantly starting/picking fights with everyone. On top of that, my biggest issue with this character is how it impacts another side character. This kind of toxic relationship is so powerful that another side character literally tells our main character they want to become that horrible themselves. Now this wouldn’t be a problem except the author is continuing to promote toxic relationships and trying to normalize this as a positive thing. This is a continuous theme since the first volume of this series and I don’t see anyone talking about this.
To further solidify these statements and how the author wants to normalize toxic, and abusive relationships, I present one of the new characters introduced into the series. We get introduced to a new side character who’s a kitsune. This character’s entire purpose of being introduced into this graphic novel is to stir up chaos, drama, and negatively charged areas for other characters for no reason. We don’t know why she’s there, we don’t know her back story, all we know is she’s there to cause trouble. This character causes so many issues for those around her especially the main character. So much so that the outcome caused by this new character leads the main character to make a very rash decision that’s going to change a lot about this series.
It really wasn’t a fun time reading this book. And I’m not going to lie, I almost regret preordering this book. But I truly thought there would be improvements, we would get the answers we deserved. We really didn’t though.
Overall, this just wasn’t the book I expected it to be. I don’t know if my hopes were too high. Maybe my critical reading got in the way. Honestly, I’m not sure anymore. I went into this book thinking we would get some resolution or personal growth from our main character especially after the first two volumes because of all the fighting and arguing, but this wasn’t it. I was cringing so much throughout this book and I had a lot of second hand embarrassment from reading this. And that’s one of the things I can’t stand when I read a book, the second hand embarrassment. And the fact that no one is talking about how the author constantly promotes toxic and abusive relationships without ever trying to have a positive resolution, any form of communication, or even anyone stepping in to say, “knock it off right now” or “this is not okay, stop” absolutely blows my mind. This just wasn’t it folks and I can’t recommend this book or series especially knowing that there will be some youths who see the relationships in this book, and think that’s the kind of treatment they deserve in their relationship.