Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.
There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.
Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?
Sea Change. Where to begin? Gorgeous cover, right? Honestly, I'd never even heard of the book when I picked it up, but the cover caught my eye, followed by the intriguing jacket flap description.
The Good: Friedman has a way with words! Wow! She paints a beautiful world, drawing your imagination in. You can see things so clearly, like you're physically on Selkie Island. I adored the fact that Miranda is not only smart, but quasi-geeky in her own way. She's always spouting scientific facts at the most embarrassing times possible, but it's absolutely endearing and relatable. How many times do you catch yourself saying something goofy that you immediately wish you could retract?
I love that Friedman writes for a YA audience but uses more advanced verbiage. It felt great to read something that had more than "so totally" in every other sentence, but only from Miranda's POV. The secondary characters, while a bit cliche, fit their roles (and their verbiage) well.
The Mediocre: Sadly, more disappointed me about this book than I was actually pleased with. There was little to no mystery surrounding the story. You go into it expecting to know "what" certain people are. Aside from the let-down of an ending, there were no surprises. I'd hoped Friedman would explain some things, but SO much went unanswered or even unaddressed. For instance: If Miranda felt a "more than human" connection with Leo, why wasn't she more than human? Having webbed toes meant nothing. What's that about? And if Leo is not quite normal, why isn't it ever spelled out? I feel like a certain character was meant to be a red-herring, but it ended up being epically disappointing. And what about her mom and her "old flame" that she didn't love yet now fawns all over? Make him/her someone worth knowing if you're going to mention it at all!
The secondary characters were irritating and more of a distraction. I hate that such a beautiful story had such shallow plots. Miranda, while smart and capable of standing on her own two feet, oftentimes slipped out of character and fell prey to WTH? moments. I felt a majority of her time with the secondary characters, she found herself waffling over what to do, think, or feel. Too many times, she fell out of character. For instance, one particular argument she had with Leo...that was SO over the top and not at all believable. It was like she had all these suspicions then decided to get mad about it all. Nonsense.
Leo, our main guy: he was cute and sweet, but it pretty much ended there, which is such a bummer considering he could've been phenomenal! That's honestly all I have to say about him.
Now to the ending. I despise books that keep you hanging on till the end, only to be monumentally disappointing. Little is worse than investing 5 hours of your life only to think, "That's it?!" Friedman sparingly builds up to a climax that never happens! Miranda never solves the mystery behind her weird feet, her grandmother's oddness, that moment in the library where the book flies off the shelf, why her mom gets all anal and changes after complaining about how much she dislikes the people on the island, if there are actually sea monsters, mermaids, or selkies...or WHAT, definitively, Leo is! Really?! The whole point of the story, and you aren't even going to mention it? What's the thinking there?
Lastly, the writing. As I've already said, Friedman has a beautiful way with words. I would've loved it if her way with words would've actually been showing versus telling. If we're inside Miranda's head, it needs to feel that way! Don't tell me the air looked hazy. Let me see it through Miranda's eyes. How does it feel, taste, smell? This is the one thing that bugs me about 1st person writing. It has to be sensory driven. Fortunately for Friedman, her gorgeous verbiage made up the gap between frustration and finishing.