‘Waterfall’ by Lauren Kate Book Review

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If you haven’t read ‘Teardrop‘ the first book in this series by Lauren Kate, you may want to read that first, and stop reading this review, because there will be spoilers; it was a long novel so I’m going to summarise the main plot points in preparation for the sequel.

Ready to continue? Okay. So, in the rather dramatic conclusion to ‘Teardrop’, we discovered that our heroine Eureka’s ancestors were part of the ‘Tearline’; this means that Eureka has the power to raise the lost city of Atlantis, by flooding the earth with her tears. Eureka was obviously astounded by this revelation (who wouldn’t be) and also a bit sceptical. At the same time, it kind of made sense to Eureka, her mother Diana had always forbidden Eureka to cry. Even after the death of her mother, Eureka locked her emotions inside and didn’t break down. A psychic called Madame Blavatsky managed to translate some of the ‘Book of Love’ (the weird old tome in an unknown language Eureka’s mother left to Eureka in her will) before her untimely, and shockingly violent, death, and it seemed to be the story of one of Eureka’s ancestors, Selene, who lived in the island of Atlantis before it sank into the ocean. Selene was betrothed to Atlas, the king of Atlantis, but didn’t love him and ran away with his younger brother Leander the night before her wedding. Leander had previously had a relationship with Delphine,a powerful sorceress, whom he said had bewitched him and had not taken the breakup well. When Selene & Leander had been about to leave the gossipwitches started to say something about a curse, so Leander went to smooth things over with Delphine, the gossipwitches then started cackling about ‘fearing the heartbreak in maiden tears’ and how it could bring oceans crashing into the earth. Selene’s narrative then made some ominous references to an apocalypse on the horizon, and the translation for that section ended.

Eureka’s ‘will-they-won’t-they’ friend Brooks meanwhile had been mood swinging from being kind, sweet & caring and making moves on Eureka, to acting like a complete arse. Eureka went for a little day trip with Brooks and her twin half-siblings on Brooks’ family sloop, and they got into a situation; the twins went overboard, Brooks went after them and Eureka followed, forgetting to drop the anchor beforehand. Eureka discovered that the ‘Thunderstone’ her mother left her (her mother was an archeologist, so it’s okay that she left her daughter really weird stuff) had some sort of magical power, and creates a shield around Eureka whenever she is under water. Eureka managed to save Claire & William, but not Brooks, and then ‘swam’ (not sure how that works in the shield) them all back to shore, called her dad and told him that Brooks was gone.

Ander, the mysterious stalker/ hot guy, snuck into Eureka’s room and told her that he has been watching her all her life (but in a non-creepy way), and is in love with her; he found Madame Blavatsky’s notes and had a missing piece to the puzzle: Leander & Selene were separated after a shipwreck, their leaving set into motion a series of events, leading to the flooding of Atlantis, and there was a prophecy that a girl would come into being who would meet the conditions to bring forth ‘the Rising Time’, when the lost city of Atlantis would return:

  • She must be born on a day that doesn’t exist (i.e. 29th February on a leap year- Eureka’s birthday).
  • She must be a childless mother and a motherless child (Eureka lost her mum and she acts more like a parent than a sister towards the twins, plus step-monster Rhoda will die in the next chapter).
  • She has to feel grief beyond what a mortal being can bear.

Ander is a Seedbearer, a race of people from Atlantis who seem to live forever (except Ander who is around Eureka’s age), can harness the power of the wind, blend into the background at will and have made it their purpose to prevent Atlantis from rising by killing any girl with the Tearline.  The seedbearers were also responsible for killing Eureka’s mother. In addition, King Atlas is still alive but sleeping in Atlantis, and uses a mental projection power to possess people close to the Tearline girl, and manipulate them into crying. So Brooks wasn’t just being hormonal teenage boy, he was possessed – but he’s not dead because he has gills like Ander and can breathe underwater now (did I mention Ander has gills?).

Ander is convinced Eureka is in danger, and let’s face it his family are trying to kill her, so one would assume he is correct. A hurricane is en route and the neighbours are evacuating, Eureka’s friend Cat drops by to say goodbye, and the next thing it turns out that the twins have been kidnapped, and tied to the swing set by the seedbearers. Rhoda tries to get her kids and is killed by one of the seedbearers, who manipulates the storm and makes her get struck by lightning. Eureka has had enough by this point, and starts crying; the area starts to flood, Eureka grabs the twins, her dad, Cat and Ander into her bubble shield and they plan to find a Seedbearer who may have more answers.

Do you understand why I had to re-read Teardrop before starting on Waterfall?

This next section is purely about ‘Waterfall’:

The first chapter visits the Seedbearers, who are keeping track of the damage caused by Eureka’s tears, discussing Ander’s defection, and what the plan is now that their original plan to prevent the flood was a bit of a disaster.  They decide that Ander has probably tried to reach out to another Seedbearer, Solon, who had defected 75 years ago, and is believed to be in Turkey, and plan to track Ander down before he reaches Solon.

We then rejoin Eureka and co. as they swim across the ocean to Turkey in the Thunderstone shield (still not sure how they can swim inside the shield, since the Thunderstone apparently repels water?!?!). When they reach the right coastline Eureka is confronted by a problem she has previously faced, in that once she is inside the shield people can’t permeate it; in ‘Teardrop’  Eureka’s half sister Claire managed to break through the shield, it wasn’t explained at the time, but I assumed that this was because Eureka loved and wanted to protect her sister, to whom she has always been more of a mother than a sister. In ‘Waterfall’ it transpires that the reason Claire can break through the shield is because of a ‘quirk’ a natural magical power that she possesses; all children are born with these gifts, but most lose them as they become adults.

Eureka manages to find Solon, who has been living in a cave system in Turkey, and with help from the local people, the ‘Celans’, and the gossipwitches (who are still alive centuries after the fall of Atlantis), he has managed to stay hidden from the seedbearers and prepare for Eureka’s arrival. Together they must try to save the world, and undo the damage from Eureka’s tears. Eureka’s interactions with the Celan people make her understand the devastation and loss she has caused; she fears that the ‘wasted’ world she has created is a reflection of the darkeness in her soul, and that she is beyond salvation. The Celan people have been preparing for the flood for centuries by building arcs; in their dreams, the millions of people killed by the flood speak to them of the Tearline girl who doomed humanity to a fate worse than death.

The Book of Love was interpreted by the Tearline girls, and the legend of their ancestor Selene was passed from generation to generation, however the final pages are missing; so what if the story had been misinterpreted? The missing pages will lead Eureka to the truth, and everything can change at the last word.

I hated this book.

When a fantasy story is set in the modern world there is a fine line to tread on how far you can go with the fantastical elements of the story; in my opinion ‘Waterfall’ went too far. I could accept that there was a girl who could cry an ocean, and raise an ancient city; I could even believe that there was an ancient King trapped inside the lost city, who had the power to possess minds in ‘the waking world’, but when every character was suddenly bestowed with a previously unsuspected superpower, the whole thing just became ridiculous.

There were parts of the story that I liked, particularly when Eureka begins to question whether she is the heroine or villain of the tale, and they way that author didn’t try to tone down and violence, but there were just too many elements that I found implausible: quirks, gossipwitches who could levitate and had swarms of bees surrounding their heads, seedbearers all being wiped out if one of them is killed (how did their race survive this long?), and the Seedbearer aging rules, to name a few. After the first few chapters, reading this book became hard work because it was no longer enjoyable. It feels like Lauren Kate had some really good ideas, and took lots of inspiration from Greek mythology, but tried to put all her ideas into one story; in my opinion it was a bit overloaded with supernatural elements.

If this novel had been set in a different universe I would, perhaps unfairly, have found this story more believable. I have seen this book referred to as the second book in the Teardrop Trilogy; with the way that this novel ends I don’t see how there could plausibly be a third book, and, I mean this in the nicest possible way, I really hope that there isn’t another book in this series.

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