Eureka’s mother Diana died in a freak weather event a few months ago when a wave crashed over the bridge they were driving along. While Diana didn’t make it, Eureka was rescued by someone, but her memories of the incident are murky. Afterward, she goes to live with her father, who has been divorced from her mother for several years and has remarried to a woman named Rhoda. Tensions between Eureka and her stepmother are high, especially since Rhoda is a main force behind Eureka’s mandated visits to see a therapist to deal with her grief and her recent suicide attempt.
While driving to a school event one day, Eureka is rear-ended by a car driven by another teenager, a boy named Ander. He acts oddly, though Eureka is strangely drawn to him. He begins popping up in the same places where Eureka goes. Her best girl friend, Cat, encourages Eureka to avoid him at all costs, but Eureka isn’t convinced he’s dangerous. It soon becomes clear that he has something to do with the strange items Diana left for Eureka in her will: a book written in an archaic language, a locket, and a strange stone that can’t get wet. When Eureka manages to translate the book, she learns that everything – Ander, the items, Diana’s accident – leads back to the legend of Atlantis.
Goodreads reviewers are particularly vicious about Lauren Kate’s previous series, Fallen. I expect a lot of that has to do with how popular they are: the more people who read them, the more people will find they dislike them, and many of them will be very vocal about it. (The flip side is true as well, of course – it’s certainly found a lot of fans.) I haven’t read them – angel fiction isn’t my thing – so I can’t say how they compare to this new Teardrop series. What I can tell you is that I don’t foresee Teardrop winning over any new fans.
The primary problem with the book is pacing. It’s 11 discs long and it seems like half of them are solely exposition. Most of the book is concerned with mysterious goings-on in Eureka’s town, some of which are repeated (for example, we see Eureka’s best guy friend Brooks acting hot-and-cold toward her at least half a dozen times before it’s revealed why). When things really do get going, it’s near the end of the book, and it involves a huge info-dump that coincides with the climax of the story. Not the most interesting or engaging way to reveal information. I have a feeling many readers will grow bored before getting to the payoff.
As for the payoff itself, it’s a little disappointing. I gave this one a whirl because I’ve long been obsessed with stories about Atlantis, but the twist Kate gives the legend is not terribly exciting. Without spoiling things too much, I’ll say that it involves Eureka’s inability to cry – her tears would cause something terrible to happen, something that has to do with the lost city. I think there might be a metaphor hidden in here about teenage girls’ emotions and how they inspire fear in people, but if it’s there, it’s muddled. Mostly I just thought it was a little ridiculous; it was hard for me to suspend my disbelief.
Erin Spencer’s narration is good; it neither enhances nor detracts from the book. I had a hard time determining if Eureka’s best girl friend was named Cat or Pat – it sounded like one or the other on different occasions (it’s Cat). She voices Eureka in a slow, deliberate way, which is normal for audiobooks (don’t want the listener to miss something!) but also works well for Eureka’s character, who is grief-stricken and depressed. The other characters are only partially voiced.
This would be a good pick for fans of light fantasy who don’t mind a slow-moving story. It’s the kind of book that focuses a lot on its non-fantasy elements: high school friendships and romances, parties, grief over a dead parent, tensions within blended families. The fantasy portions seem almost an afterthought at times. Waterfall, the sequel, publishes this October, and hopefully it includes a little extra meat to the re-imagined Atlantis legend and less plodding to the story, but I’m not sure I’ll read it to find out.
Audiobook received from the publisher. Teardrop is available now.