Knowing who you are and believing in yourself are what most believe create that inner feeling of completeness and possibly, even happiness. For those who do not know of their familial background, a quest for information almost always begins.
In The Mers by Ami Blackwelder, the author takes us into such a situation, one our heroine, Mira, can only guess at. Living among the Mers, a people that have evolved after the Great Deluge, she understands she is not like them. They have gills and webbed appendages, while she is not comfortable in the water and is not equipped with the standard gills or webs. Her hair is another standout, bright cherry red and unlike that of any of her friends. Nonetheless, she knows she is loved and she loves her friends and family with abandon. She just feels a little like an outcast because she is not like anyone else she knows. She thinks she may be more like the humans, but they are bad and she does not want to think about them. They are dangerous and want nothing more than to destroy the Mers.
After the flood, necessity caused many changes and when adaptions such as the Mers possessed came to light it created fear and distrust. War ensued and after peace was brokered, the Mers were allowed to live their lives on Liberty Shore, the former Ellis Island, away from the humans. The Humans kept New Jersey and life became more peaceful. The treaty worked for many years, but things were beginning to change. Strange water waves and dangerous sea creatures were now in evidence and threatening the lives and existence of the Mers. While lives were lost among the Mers, it was the disappearances that were the most disturbing. Life was becoming unbearable. Pirates were raiding their shores looking for bounty but kidnapping Mers as well. What was behind this new and sinister danger?
As the danger creeps even closer, Mira learns about a small piece of her past. She is a foundling, and her adopted parents believe she is human. They want only what is best for her and fear for her safety. Mira decides to break the rules, and she and her best friend Nerin cross the border that separates these two entities in an effort to find the answers she is searching for.
Is she really prepared for the answers? What they discover is both shocking and horrifying; they must find a way to warn the Mers, but how? They have been captured, but there is something very strange happening to Mira–she seems to be gaining the ability to perform small bits of mind control. When they are helped by the King’s own son to escape, they find themselves in a fight for their lives to save their family and friends. Even as this evil is raging on, Mira learns part of the truth of her past. Can she live with what she learns of who she is?
Blackwelder has given us a dystopian world and created a society of different people that have become survivors. As with all societies she has built in the pettishness, and jealousy, as well as the fear of those who are different. Through it all she has weaved a gentle twist of romance and hope, and a love of family.
Her characters create feelings in the reader. The mostly gentle ways of the Mer draw you to them, yet their strength makes you understand their capabilities. The Humans have their own foibles and while most are caring and loving, the class system that is in place separates them too much. The distinctions are too extreme, causing a feudal system with a King that has proclaimed his power. Blackwelder has given us a wicked Monarch that is easy to dislike, one who also has something to hide. Not because he is ashamed but because he plans to win at all costs.
If you enjoy end of the world scenarios, as well as mystery, romance, and danger you will enjoy The Mers. There is beauty and abundance littered with hope. But betrayal raises the stakes and the adventure keeps you reading to find out how the Mers can survive, or even if they will.