I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

coral by sara ella - ARC Review:  Coral by Sara EllaCoral by Sara Ella
Published by Thomas Nelson on November 12, 2019
ISBN: 9780785224464
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Adaptations, Mermaids, Social Themes, Mental Illness, Romance, Clean & Wholesome
Pages: 384
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Inspired by “The Little Mermaid,” Coral explores what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.
Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. She fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease said to be carried by humans: emotions. Her sister had the Disease, and Red Tide took her away. Will it come for Coral next?
Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at a new group-therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?
Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?
When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?
Praise for Coral:
“This heart-wrenching tale will pull you under its spell.” —ANNIE SULLIVAN, author of A Touch of Gold and Tiger Queen
“A beautiful reimagining.” —LAUREN MANSY, author of The Memory Thief
“A breathless, powerful journey of the heart and mind.” —LINDSAY A. FRANKLIN, award-winning author of The Story Peddler

A stand-alone, full-length Young Adult novel
Trigger warning: suicide and depression

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts are my own. 

Oh, how I wanted to enjoy this book.  I had been saving this one for a while, waiting until the right mood took me, waiting until I was ready to fully immerse myself in the world of a very special retelling…essentially A Little Mermaid retelling.  I love a retelling, but this just fell flat for me and I can’t tell you just how disappointed I am that this was the case.  I was grateful that the author/publisher inserted a trigger warning at the front of the book, but I didn’t fully appreciate just how apt inserting that proviso was going to be. 

Before I try to wade through this review, I will give credit where credit is due.  Sara Ellis had a monumental task of giving representation to sufferers of mental health.  It is a beomoth of a topic.  It varies so much from person to person and there isn’t enough representation in Young Adult fiction.  Ellis chose the most complex of topics to write about and for that she needs to be commended.  This book is just so sad though.  It does wrench emotions from you and depending on whether that impacts upon you negatively or positively it could be a good or bad thing.  I have a history of mental health problems, mainly PND after the birth of my babies so this did resonate with me.  I deal with social anxiety and in that regard,  I use books as an escape, a way for me to just forget about real life for a couple of hours.  Life is seriously tough and yes that’s what you expect and deal with, but this book just didn’t even give me a glimmer of hope that things were going to get better and I just NEED that.  The end result of finishing this book was that I was just damned confused way too much. 

The multiple POVs were extremely difficult for me to follow and I did find myself flicking back and forth to try and make sense of what was happening with each character.  At points it felt like I was reading three different stories rather than it flowing as one.  The writing style was awkward also and it read in a jittery fashion.

The Story complexity just didn’t fit the characters.  The internal voices of each character just left me feeling meh.  I didn’t particularly care much for any of them and it really shouldn’t have been that way.  Corals voice just faded away into the nothingness for me and I got quite confused with sections of dialogue because she wasn’t memorable for me and I wasted time going back to read certain pages again.  She should have been the strongest character but instead nothing warmed me to her.  I think the storytelling between modern day humans and the life underwater with the merfolk just didn’t gel well for me.  It had incredible potential but it’s a no from me. 

The thing that has knocked the rating down to 2 stars from me is the fact that the theme of mental health was far bigger than the story.  The characters seem to have been written so that the mental health seemed to define who they were, and that FUCKING pissed me off.  Mental health doesn’t define me and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t for others either.  You didn’t really get to find out more about their personalities, what makes them tick,  what they loved, what they hated outside of being a mental health sufferer.  There were no complexities to their characters just mental health. 

The plot was pretty much dead in the water.  Sorry for the pun.  It was slow as all hell.  Every chapter I got through, I found myself wondering just when would I work out what the plot was?  You would think by 50% that I would have worked that out, but no, it was not obvious at all.  The three characters didn’t come together until quite far on at the expense of a perceived big twist that really wasn’t all that twisty and ruined the experience that could have been woven intricately by this point.  I do like what the author tried to do but it just didn’t work for me.