{ARC Review} Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Title: Captivate
Series: Submerged Sun #1
Author: Vanessa Garden
Published: 1st January 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Source: Paperback provided by Harlequin Teen Australia for fair & honest review
Rating: 4/5

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

A Creative And Unique World But Some Inconsistencies

The story:
Firstly I must say this story is not what I was excepting. Call me crazy, but when I read 'underwater world' and saw the cover I naturally assumed this was a mermaid story. Well I'm disappointed to say, from early on we learn that's not the case. Instead, we are taken into a world under a crystal dome in the depths of the ocean, where Humans live. Although there are no mermaids, I did love the creativity of the story. Marin is a city, with it's own population, laws and a King - Marko. The live down there happily, occasionally surfacing to trade in the normal world. However after three generations, the women of Marin can no longer have children, (possibly because of lack of moonlight and time spent under the ocean) and it's up to Marko to save the city and dwindling population.

Marko's sister, Syliva, pressures him to find a human girl from the land above and bring her back to repopulate Marin. So Marko's bodyguard and best friend Robbie, does just that - essentially kidnapping the poor innocent Miranda and taking her back to live in Marin. She's held captive until it's time for her to marry King Marko, and have his children (artificially - no actually baby making activities will be forced on her thankfully)

The characters:
I liked Miranda a lot. She's different from the average YA heroine, she's a little chubby and has a relatable personality. Her character was developed well, with a strong background about her guilt over her parents death, and a strained relationship with her sister. It gave her depth and substance, as well as a darker side.

I struggled to connect with Marko at first. He's not exactly the warmest of characters when we meet him, and I felt he showed very little kindness to Miranda at first. However of the course of the story, we get to know him and he grew on me. He has a lot of pressure on him to save the city and being so young, he's struggling to deal with it all. He tries to connect with Miranda and show her kindness.

Robbie was a sweet character, and I actually preferred his character over Marko. He had remorse over the fact that he was the one that kidnapped Miranda, and he showed great care towards her. He wanted to help her escape so badly, but fear and loyalty to his best friend Marko prevented him from doing it.

The romance:
For me the romance was something I struggled with. The fact that the 'hero' and love interest, Marko, kidnaped Miranda, didn't work for me. Even though it's suggested he's not happy about it, he still did it and keeps her there against her wishes. And when Miranda starts to have feelings towards Marko, I couldn't help but feel she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, which just prevented me from truly accepting their relationship. Marko did grow on me, and I think in the 2nd book I might be more accepting of their relationship, but the way it started just felt wrong.

The Writing:
I really enjoyed Garden's descriptions of the underwater world. I could see it all in my mind, and that was probably my favourite part of this book. But while this was a fun and creative story, there where a few inconstancies that I couldn't ignore.

For example the whole point of Marko kidnapping Miranda was because she's able to have children, while the all the third generation women in Marin can't. But it's pointed out that two girls, Poh & Henrietta, (and many others) are 'Drowners', meaning they almost drowned in the ocean and were rescued and brought back to Marin to live. Therefore, since they where born and lived up on land, shouldn't they be able to have children still - why do they have to kidnap some innocent girl?

Also how is one girl going to save the entire population of Marin, is she supposed to pop out an entire generation of children? If so, then what happens? They'll all be related, so they can't reproduce with each other. Do they continue kidnapping women to make more babies?

While I did struggle with the romance and some inconstancies, I still enjoyed the story and I do plan on reading the sequel. The idea is quite unique and I look forward to seeing where Vanessa Garden takes the story next!

Sexuality: medium / some kissing and suggestive conversations about sex
Violence: medium / punishment is death by shark - descriptions of person killed
Language: mild
Drugs & alcohol: mild-medium / Miranda is drugged when kidnapped, main characters drink wine


  1. Consistency is difficult in an underwater book but is a must have. I'm not sure I would like this one so I will skip it (especially with the romance) but I am glad you found things you liked about it!

  2. oh an underwater city? Okay that's kind of different. I am almost kind of glad it is not a mermaid book, I have only had misses with those :( the underwater city does sound very appealing and fun thought

  3. I was expecting a mermaid story too! Every time I mentioned this before reading it, I classified it as a mermaid book. Oops haha. I have to agree with everything you said! I liked it but it wasn't the best. Awesome review Amy!


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