ARC Book Review: Captivate by Vanessa Garden


Title: Captivate
 Vanessa Garden
Release Date:  1st January 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Gothic
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 304
Source: Publisher

3 of 5 hearts

Miranda Sun had been taken against her will to the underwater city of Marin where she is expected to marry the king and bear his children to help boost the barren population. But Miranda is desperate to get home and make up with her sister after the tragic death of her parents. Meanwhile the king’s brother, the exiled firstborn, is a threat to the city. Will Miranda succumb to the lure of the underwater Marin or will she find her freedom?

I liked Miranda as a character. She had all the angst and over-dramatic tendencies of my favourite Disney princesses. She spent an awful lot of time weeping and sorry for herself but wasn’t afraid to try to take matters into her own hands and made many good attempts to escape. She was in an awful situation, kidnapped and dragged to the bottom of the ocean, and she spent an awful lot of time locked away by herself or being forced against her will to participate, forced to work for this horrible place with the threat of execution over her head. Her one redemption was Marko, the young king of Marin, and I was glad she found a sort of happiness there.

I also liked how Miranda was supposed to be chubby or fat (a far cry for your typical ‘thin and clumsy’ YA heroine), although it was a bit hard to accept this when she referred to her own sister as a Barbie and her sister envied her ‘curves’, and said the only parts of her borrowed clothes that would be stretched out were the boobs and bum. I figured that meant Miranda had curves, but Miranda saw herself as fat and unattractive, which fair nearly broke my heart when someone actually did find her beautiful and she couldn’t believe them.

I really liked how the plot dove right in and within the first chapter we were in Marin with Miranda, trying to figure out how she could possibly escape an escapeless fortress. I felt so sorry for her as the entire population thought she was there willingly to save them and all placed their hopes in her. Miranda wasn’t even seventeen and an absolute prude, so I often felt her own embarrassment when people referred to her having the king’s babies. There was so much pressure on her to do her part to help a kingdom she wasn’t a part of and didn’t want to be a part of. It wasn’t even fair, because Miranda was chosen accidentally and also at random. I feel like Marko, who often visited the surface to trade, could have developed an on-land romance with a girl and convinced her to come underwater and marry him and make lots of babies instead of kidnapping a frightened innocent girl against her will. After all, Marin is going to have to convince a hell of a lot more human girls to procreate to keep the population going, as everyone is barren and Miranda can hardly be expected to boost the entire population.

I felt that the romance was well developed. I personally didn’t like Marko very much, and although I love romances where the heroine and love interest don’t like each other to begin with, I felt that there could have been more redemption from Marko to draw me to like him more. I could admire from afar the beginning of their tenderness, but I always felt that there was supposed to be something going on with Robbie as well. It wasn’t a love triangle, but I felt like it was supposed to be, or at least it was supposed to feel like one, and I didn’t feel it. Miranda was inexperienced and falling for the wrong boy and she never really thought about falling in love with the person who kidnapped her. I also felt that because we were constantly reminded of Marin’s pull and allure that in the end when Miranda did admit her feelings that it was more Stockholm Syndrome, or at least not authentic. I think I would have preferred the romance if it was clearer that she wanted to stay in Marin because of her own feelings and not because of the allure that affected everyone.

I also feel a little disappointed because Marko was your typical foul-tempered, physical, drop-dead gorgeous love interest. It’s really not hard to feel attraction to someone who’s insanely attractive. I felt that Captivate was following the lines of Beauty and the Beast with a young girl needing to fall in love with the royal leader to save the people, but there was no beast! Marko had a foul temper but he was a hunk and a half and I didn’t feel much of a struggle or conflict from Miranda when it came to finding him attractive and leading to her wanting to sleep with him. Sure, he was holding her against her will, but I seriously doubt many teen girls would be able to resist the charms of a doting hottie patottie for long. I think I would have liked this better if Marko wasn’t gorgeous, if Miranda had to see past his unattractive outside to the beauty within. Imagine if Belle had been held at the castle with a handsome prince: I hardly think the last petal would have fallen from the rose if she had been! There was no conflict – it felt assured Miranda would fall for Marko. There was no ‘would she, wouldn’t she?’

There was something about Miranda’s voice and narration that led me to really feel her own helplessness and frustration at her situation. She was both treasured and disposable, locked away for her own safety yet threatened with execution. It would be enough to drive one mad! It also smacked of Gothicness, with the young innocent female being held captive by the older (not by much, though!) male, and I do love Gothic novels. Overall I feel that this was a decent introduction into what will hopefully develop into a next book, and I would rather like to see more of Marko and find out what happens in the future.

Thanks to HarlequinTeen for providing this advanced reader copy for an honest review.

View all my reviews


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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