The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I ended up DNFing this book at about 82%, so I feel like I know what it was that I did not like about this book and I feel confident in my rating.
The synopsis of this book says that it is “reimagined through a searing feminist lens” and I do not agree with that at all. To me when a book says that it is a feminist retelling, I think that it is going to have female characters that stand up for themselves and fight for equality, but in the 254 pages that I read of this book, not once did our main character stand up for anything. Sure, the inequality that women in this society is mentioned and observed, but for me that was just not enough.
Some things that I absolutely hated about this book:
-Wow your so pretty I can’t stand it, let me just constantly talk about and mention how beautiful the MC is
-MC knows another character wants to sexually assault another character, and lets it happen. That is NOT feminist to me.
-MC’s father says she is so pretty he should’ve taken her as his own. HER FATHER WANTS HER.
-MC was super judgemental (the first time she sees a fat woman, she says “I did not know such a body was even allowed to exist”
-She thinks it is completely out of the question/impossible that one of her sisters is not straight
-Lots of girl hate, especially between the sisters.
-Did I mention how pretty she is?
-All men are sexual predators and misogynistic, felt like it was just trying to push the feminist agenda. Not all men are sexual predators or stupid.
-Sea Witch was far more interesting than the MC, actually stood up for herself
-One dimensional characters, very little character development
-MC is abused every night by her betrothed and then it is never fully addressed
-And seriously, the MC is sooooo pretty no one can believe that she is real!
I have no idea if the ending gets any better, but from what I read I really didn’t like how the book just pointed out issues instead of actually addressing them or anyone trying to make a difference. The world building is also really lacking, when we get to land it mentions a civil war on the islands, but we have no clue what country we are in and what the islands are. It wasn’t until I went and read the Goodreads synopsis that I realized it’s supposed to be set in Ireland, which definitely does NOT come through in any of the settings or characters.
The writing in this was also a really big problem for me, it felt like the publisher didn’t realize that the author was only submitting a first draft and decided to publish it right away. There were paragraphs where there would be a scene with the Sea King, and then the very next paragraph would be something completely different with nothing to tell you what is going on and how you got from there to here.
I get that this was trying to be a feminist commentary on the world, but it didn’t quite accomplish that. It never tried to offer solutions or even give any sort of analysis on why this world is the way it is. It almost read like the main message was that men are all evil, misogynistic, abusive monsters and women need to stay away from them.
I could honestly go on and on about the things that I disliked about this book, but since I don’t want to write a book length review, I’m going to stop it here. This book was really disappointing for me and I honestly do not recommend this book.
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