ARC Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh | Teen Ink

ARC Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

January 13, 2022
By Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
81 articles 25 photos 79 comments

Favorite Quote:
Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.
-Walt Whitman

“Don’t chase fate, Mina. Let fate chase you.”

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, by Axie Oh is a feminist retelling of the Korean fairytale of Sim Cheong. Mina, our main character, sacrifices herself to the fabled Sea God to save her brother’s wife from being thrown into the sea like dozens of girls before her. All sent to appease the Sea God and stop the storms from ravaging their homeland. Finding herself in a strange land, Mina is confronted with the task of fixing the Sea God, who has caused deadly storms amongst her town for years. With the help of a former god, Shin, and a wily group of spirits, Mina races against time to save her people and, possibly, herself.

Set against a vibrant background of spirits, gods, and dragons, this story gave me hope that I had found the first ever best book of 2022. Honestly, it started out that way. I loved Mina and found myself intrigued by the three mysterious spirits whom she first met. The whole thing seemed perfect; romance, folklore, and a group of spirits that seemed fun and fresh.

But the excitement started to wane when I got close to halfway through.

The biggest downfall was how short the book was. Because of that, events were too close together. It almost seemed like Oh got tired of the story herself,and shortened it to finish much quicker. Every other chapter we saw confrontation, and all I wanted was some time to really get to know the characters. To kind of connect with and fall in love with them.

Sadly, the only character we ever really get to know is Mina. I liked her, but she seemed like a strong feminist character at first. Then she became a damsel. Not once did she save herself, even though she had a dagger through the whole book! Sure, she shoved Shin out of the way of a crossbow bolt, but we never saw her really fight. It was a huge disappointment, especially since the word “feminist” was thrown out in the book description.

The other characters really fell flat for me. I wanted to love Shin, Kirin, and Namgi, but I only ever liked them. Cute side characters were all they were to me. We never saw Kirin and Namgi really bond, and Shin became nice way too easily. The other characters, Mask and Dai, were a bit better. I loved that they were Mina’s ancestors, but could smell that plotline from a mile away. First of all, we find out very early that Mina’s sister-in-law lost a baby girl, and Dai, Mina’s grandfather, carries a baby on his back. It was super obvious, but really sweet, too. They were probably the only side characters that I felt a connection with.

The storyline wasn’t bad, but I got really confused really early on. Mina is supposed to be finding a cure to wake the Sea God, but when she finds that out and gets Shin’s help, she just… stops. It’s like Oh forgot where the story was going and then remembered halfway through the book. Also, the thing with Shin being the real Sea God and the Sea God being an emperor was very confusing. The storyline could have done with a lot of refining.

Even with the confusion, though, I did like reading it mainly for the lushness of the spirit realm. Oh described it beautifully, and I felt like I was really there seeing the spirits float by in the river. She is amazing at immersing a reader into her world; I witnessed this in another one of her books, XOXO. The building she does for the setting is something to admire.

Though this book fell a bit flat, I still enjoyed reading it. For that reason, I gave it a generous four stars on Goodreads. Maybe this will totally be the best book of 2022 for someone else, but for me, it was just a nice read. Nothing more nothing less.

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