Thursday, August 16, 2012

Submerged, Dani Pettrey

For those of you that are new to my blog, welcome! This particular book review post is part of a book review program with Bethany House. The Bethany House book review program is simple: I request a book from the links they send via email, then I read the book they send and write a review on this blog and a retailer’s site (such as Amazon). If this sounds like something that interests you, you can get more information and/or sign up here:

Submerged is a story of mystery and suspense, with a little bit of romance thrown into the mix. Bailey, the main character, returns to her hometown in Alaska after her aunt's tragic plane crash for her funeral. But Bailey's past - and her past actions - hurt more than she dares show the small town of Yancey, Alaska. Running into an old love and discovering that her aunt's plane crash was no accident definitely spice up the intriguing tale Pettrey unveils. But when Bailey's expertise in Russian history and artifacts forces her to stay and help solve a theft/murder scheme, will she crack under the pressure, or will things finally turn out right?
I don’t normally read mysteries/thrillers, so this was a different experience for me. I do have to say that, while I didn’t really buy into a lot of the romance aspect of the novel (which is more familiar to me), the plot was very thrilling. Not, by any means, and edge-of-your-seat thriller, but a pleasantly mild, interest-inducing, twistedly delicious road that kept me reading just so I could find out who the mystery person at the end really was.
There were several aspects that I felt could have been worked on to make the storyline more believable/appealing. Let’s stick with believable, though, since novelists generally don’t write just to appeal to every single reader.
Aspects that could have been more believable:
Relationships – not just romantic, but generally speaking. The depth that we see doesn’t go very far, which isn’t always necessary in a novel, but in this case I feel it could have been a bit deeper – or at the very least could have involved a little more conflict than loosely one-sided from bailey's perspective. Relationships are messy – not all the time, but for the most part there is more tension running through even casual relationships (which Pettrey covers with the main character, but for the most part leaves that tension only at her doorstep and discludes others).
Romantic involvement – it was very shallow. While most romances are characterized by heavy, heavy, dirty, sweaty, etc., etc., not all of them have to be to be good, so put that out of your mind right now that that’s what I 'm trying to say. What I mean is that while most relationships may be very chaste-looking on the outside, there is more on the inside that is important to portray/mention. The romantic involvement of the two main characters in Submerged scrapes by on the shallow side, not allowing the reader to see the real attraction (attraction is more than just physical: characteristics and traits they admire, small things they do for each other, etc., all count as attraction). The author tries and makes a valiant effort, but unfortunately I’m not sure she actually got it right.
Since most of the unbelievable elements of the story (for me, at least) hinged on those two elements, I’ll leave off with that part and move on to the better stuff:
Mystery – I never would have guessed at the direction the novel took in the end, never would have guessed who the killer was. (I won’t ruin it for those who might be interested in reading this, don’t worry.) It was intriguing and absoluetly-can’t-put-it-down good. Point for Pettrey.
Plot – Complicated, a little twisted, and ultimately great! I loved trying to keep up with the plot as it went on, and it kept me off-balance enough that I didn't get bored with it. While I can generally know where the story will go near the end of any book I read, I have to say that there were definitely elements that surprised me. Point 2 for Pettrey.

A compelling story and voice – Pettrey's voice is fresh and new. Her perspective is focused and she's amazingly detailed. Despite a few things I may have overanalyzed, I couldn't put the book down and couldn't wait to pick it back up when I was absolutely forced to put it aside for a few hours.

Overall, I would recommend this book and anything else Pettrey writes. She's fresh, distinctive, and has some major talent that I can't wait to see develop even more. If you want a good read, this is definitely the book for you.

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