Waterfall (Teardrop #2) by Lauren Kate
When we left Eureka, she had finally cried the tear that will drown the world. We discovered that her Thunderstone could project a bubble of air big enough to hold Eureka, her dad, Ander, Cat, and the twins. Also, the Thunderstone bubble is pretty much impervious to anyone who tries to get through it, except for Eureka's sister Claire. So, Eureka and her family have left Louisiana in the Thunderstone bubble and are heading for Turkey to find a rogue Seedbearer named Solon.
I bought this book for myself for Christmas. In the past, most of the books I have bought myself have been sort of lackluster, but I have higher hopes for this one, since I liked last year's book, "Teardrop" pretty well.
Note to self: Maybe you should stick with buying books that you have read before, but don't own copies of, for yourself for Christmas in the future. Buying books that contain surprises tends not to work out very well.
I really wanted to love this book. I would have settled for liking it. The premise of a girl who has just destroyed the world having to fix what she's done is a great one, but this totally fell apart in the execution and left me wondering if my boss at my sideline job would think too poorly of me for throwing it against the wall while she sat right there in the same room.
I want to warn you that everything from here on will be spoilers. I'm not going to put my spoilers in a spoiler capsule like I usually do, because in order to show you why I didn't like this book, I will have to show you why I didn't like this book.
It doesn't take terribly long for the characters to cross the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean and end up off the coast of Turkey. For some reason, they have to anchor themselves to a rock, rather than just washing up on shore. I'm not sure why. Perhaps this is just to introduce the concept of orichalcum, a metal from Atlantis, which figures prominently in a couple of more places in the book. The tales of Atlantis truly do have a metal called orichalcum, which is described by Plato as being red (historians think it was a kind of bronze), but here, inexplicably, it is a whitish silver. Claire, as the only person who can pierce the Thunderstone shield, is chosen to attach an orichalcum anchor to a rock near the shore, and then they climb onto the rock. Fortunately the rock is actually a small peninsula jutting out into the water, and not just a rock, so they can walk inland from the rock, after a nifty bit of partner abuse on the part of Ander (but he feels sorry for it afterwards, so apparently it's okay).
As the characters have been traveling unusually quickly across thousands of miles of ocean (we are told that the trip took "a day," but they never ran out of oxygen, so I think it must have been a very short day), everyone in every coastal area everywhere has drowned in Eureka's tears because people in this book aren't smart enough to run to higher ground when things flood. The salt water in the tears is damaging the crops, as well, leading to worldwide famine. The book focuses so much on Eureka and her quest, though, that aside from one dead body and some roofs, we don't really see much of the devastation in the world around them. In fact, Solon lives in a cave, so Eureka and, by extension, the reader, is separated from the effects of her tears by layers of stone.
Then there's the famine. This is the closest we get to seeing the cost of Eureka's tears. There is a community of people who are also living in Solon's caves and they are dying of starvation, even though it has only been, at most, a few weeks since the tears started to fall. I say that it has been at most a few weeks because Solon tells Eureka that she has "until the full moon" to prepare to face Atlas and save the world. Even if Eureka cried on the night of a full moon, that means that the span of time involved is only around 27 days. I'm not even sure if there is enough salt in tears to cause that much damage to plants (believe it or not, I've actually tried to research this question) in that short of a time. Did these people traditionally just pick their food and eat it immediately? Did they have no food stores? No preserved anything to tide them over? What about livestock? One would assume that, since these people were aware of the prophecy, they would have seen the writing on the wall when the salty rain started to fall and harvested anything that could be harvested and slaughtered their animals while they were healthy and then preserved the food in some way.
There's a whole sideline thing in which we discover that Seedbearers are not allowed to fall in love, because falling in love ages them. Losing their loves, however, youthens them again. Solon aged to the point where he was a cataract-ridden senile old man before he killed his love, the Tearline girl Byblos, with his own hands. Killing Byblos knocked him all the way back to looking like he was 15. We are told that love is the only thing that can age a Seedbearer and so they are forbidden to love. It seems to me that the Seedbearers should be a community of teenagers, if this were true, but I seem to recall that some of the Seedbearers in "Teardrop" were adults. I went back and reread the scene at the police department and the Seedbearers who made Eureka clam up and leave were described as "older." I guess you could interpret that as "older teenagers" if you squint, but it looks like a plot hole to me. When she finds out that falling in love ages a Seedbearer, Eureka sets out to push Ander away. And since Ander is totally obsessed, you can guess how well that works.
Then there's the point that made me want to throw the book against the wall. In "Waterfall" we find out that people are all born with slight magical abilities, which are called "quirks" in this book. In most cultures, we never discover our quirks, and even those cultures where the quirks are discovered, only one is discovered per person, but it is believed that babies are born with more than one. Claire is unusual in that she found a way to discover and use one of hers, which is her ability to pierce magical barriers, at a relatively advanced age. Exposure to orichalcum causes the revelation of the quirks of a couple of other characters as well. Before she leaves the caves to raise Atlantis and save the world, Solon kills himself, knowing that it will take all of the other Seedbearers out of Eureka's way, yet Ander survives. You see, it turns out that he's not a Seedbearer. Yep. He's a normal human male who just happens to have been born with the entire range of Seedbearer powers as quirks. I have no words. Well I do, but it's mostly Internet slang like "WTF?" and "I can't even."
I'm back. I took a break to play a computer game on my phone in a whole different room while I calmed down.
There's another whole plot point involving "ghost robots," which are orichalcum robots that are supposed to house numerous souls. There are nine of them (I think -- Eureka finds one "dead" one and Delphine makes a new one to replace it, if I recall. Or maybe the replacement was for one that has defected and is now the repository for all of the souls of the Seedbearers, in which case there are only eight, maybe). These nine (or eight) robots are supposed to hold all of the souls of those who died, which number in the hundreds of millions (or possibly the billions, depending on the definition of "souls (that) are still alive"). Upon being filled with souls, these robots are supposed to do all of the work that Atlas, king of Atlantis, has in mind, including drying the land out and rebuilding the world in the image of Atlantis. How fewer than ten robots, no matter now many souls they are housing, are supposed to do all of that work is beyond me.
Eureka raises Atlantis and meets Delphine. Apparently, the entire population of Atlantis has been in some kind of suspended animation, except conscious, for the last several thousand years. Well, except for the gossipwitches (and there were definitely some facepalm-worthy moments regarding them, as well) who escaped and Atlas, whose soul has somehow been wandering the surface world this whole time while his original body lay empty but still viable under the water. But anyway. Once Atlantis arises, everything is exactly like it was when Leander and Selene took off. The rest of the book has some head-scratching moments, most notably the final battle, which takes place among four different characters, all possessing the original body of Atlas.
The final four paragraphs or so, however, are actually pretty good. I get the distinct feeling that Kate wrote the ending of the book first and then had to make it match up somehow. Maybe she should have sat on this one for a while until she came up with something a little less baffling.