The Sea Became Restless by Megan Gaudino

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SKU 978-0-3695-0510-1
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Sixteen-year-old Nixie sucks at being the daughter of a cult-leader. Forbidden to leave the beached boat where her father, his three wives, and their twenty followers pretend to have created Utopia, Nixie stares at the distant shoreline with a hunger deeper than the ocean itself. A hunger for a normal life—high school, college, and beyond.

When Crew nearly drowns during a party on their beach, Nixie plunges into the ocean—and fierce rebellion against her father—to save him. As the two explore the strangeness of each other’s worlds in stolen moments on dry land, they’re caught up in a whirlwind of intensifying feelings.

Rebellion’s easy when you focus on what you hope to gain. It’s a million times harder when you realize what you stand to lose.

14+ due to adult situations and sexuality

 

Excerpt:

A voice crackled over a megaphone. “All hail, Crew, the king of Mystic High.”

Crew. The boy in the boat. The king of high school, whatever that meant. What a perfect name for someone like him. I tested the word out on my lips over and over. If I said it slowly enough it was like a kiss.

“Yeah, yeah…” He waved at the speedboat, then the beach, like his arm weighed a ton. Everyone cheered and clapped. Maybe he was some kind of king. They seemed so amused by something so simple.

“Is it dark enough yet?” a voice near the bonfire yelled.

“I believe so,” Crew answered. “Let the celebration begin.”

The beach went quiet, even the waves stilled, while my heart hammered in my chest. I was going to get to see a celebration.

A ribbon of screaming light whistled up from the beach. It corkscrewed higher and higher into the night air then burst into a glittering shower of crimson. A firework. Of course I’d seen them before, they went off every Fourth of July without fail, but never so close.

“Ooo.”

Aaa.”

Then another went up, and another. They raced to the sky and burst open in the most beautiful display of magic I’d ever seen. Reds, greens, purples, and golds. They had the kind that crackled in the air like Pop Rocks and even the kind that fanned out like palm trees. Guilt tugged at my chest. I should’ve told the others, or at least Juliana, but I couldn’t rip my eyes from the sky.

The night swirled around like a dream—the lights, the smoke, the voices. I existed in another place and time where anything was possible and everything was beautiful. Did the people on the beach even know how lucky they were to be experiencing such a night? Probably not. 

“Shit. Fuck. Shit,” someone yelled from the beach.

“Run,” someone else screamed.

The whistling went off in rapid, screeching succession. Trails of light burst out of the bonfire like spider’s legs in every direction. Screams erupted from the beach as everyone turned into blurs of movement in the flashing light. One firework hit Atlantica with a loud ping, some plunged into the water, hissing all the way down, while others shot into the sky. I swayed as I held the railing, the noise and flashing light tilting all my senses into a funnel and mixing them up.

The sulfur smell grew stronger and twisted my stomach as a firework raced right for me. I threw myself to the deck and pressed my face to the floor. It lost steam as it approached, arching right for Crew. With a shriek and a pop the firework torpedoed his rowboat.  

I pressed up from the deck and hung over the railing like if I stretched far enough I could reach him. Crew coughed and sputtered.

My fingers tapped out SOS on the railing. /…/---/…/

“Bran,” he yelled between coughs. “Bran, I need a fire extinguisher.”

No one answered to identify himself as Bran, but I sent him a silent plea to help. Crew’s boat was almost completely engulfed in flames. He’d moved to the bow and unbuttoned his shirt, whipping it off, trying to vanquish the fire.

“Not the boat,” he howled. “Come on.”

Flames licked up the side of the boat, it was a goner. He would be too if he didn’t jump ship and swim to shore. There was a pocket of silence from the blasts, an eerie calm for a few fleeting seconds, but still no one seemed to notice Crew. He flung his shirt over the flames in a vain attempt to put them out but the smoke formed around him like a seal. Just when I was sure his skin would melt off in globs, he plunged into the water. I let out a breath as I craned my neck waiting for him to surface in the firelight.

I scanned the water like a predator looking for prey but Crew never surfaced. The waves crested, the fire blazed, and Crew stayed under. My chest burned with flames and fear and my fingers dug into the railing. I couldn’t lose him. I scaled the rail, raised my arms above my head, and dove into the pitch-black night sea. The water enclosed around me, but instead of weighing me down and dragging me under it formed a protective barrier.

I found him in no time, an intrinsic link pulling me to him in the murky water. I hooked my arms under his armpits just like Papa taught me and kicked with all my might until we broke through the surface. Adrenaline coursed through me, pumping my heart and legs, keeping us afloat.

When I inhaled, the heavy smoke coated my throat, and my eyes burned from the salt and fumes. I coughed and coughed as I pulled Crew to the beach and when he started coughing too, my sense of dread washed away like our drag marks in the sand.

He was going to be okay.

“Are you a mermaid?” he asked. His breath on my ear warmed my entire body.

“No.” I laughed.

Crew helped push himself up out of the water. The wet sand formed around us, pushing us closer together, filling in all the available space. Crew on his back, me on my side, his arm still wrapped around my waist like I was his personal life preserver. I supposed I was. My arms stuck under his back, his heartbeat thrumming into my own veins. His chest glistened with saltwater and sweat. With dark hair plastered to his forehead he kept his eyes closed.

“Am I okay?” he asked.

“I think so. You’re breathing, talking.”

“Are you okay, Mermaid?”

Product Reviews

Score: 4 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings)
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5/5
5 stars
Written by Tessa Slager on 18th Apr 2022

I wasn't prepared to love this book as much as I did. It's a beautifully written young adult retelling of The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid connections are there and so well written without being thrown in your face as a retelling. Gaudino took the main themes and ideas and re wrote them in an amazing way. Get ready for an amazing story with characters you'll be rooting for!

4/5
Part of your world
Written by Candice on 6th Apr 2022

I am a huge Disney fan and always have been. If you ask my mother which Disney movie was my favorite growing up she will tell you The Little Mermaid. Where this lovely Ya contemporary retelling doesn’t have Mermaids, it has all the other sprinkles from the Disney movie. The male even calls her a mermaid. Nixie (which by the way is my cats name and I couldn’t help but find funny in many situations) and Crew’s love story starts pretty much how the Disney movie does. She saves the boy from drowning. And from that moment becomes obsessed with exploring and discovering his world and him. She has always wanted to leave her boat and be a part of his world and their story blossomed wonderfully as such. It was a very interesting take on the Disney story and the fact that it revolves around her father and a cult was definitely new. Overall I really enjoyed this story and loved their love story and gave me all The Little Mermaid feels. Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy to read.

4/5
Really good!
Written by old.enough.for.fairytales on 6th Apr 2022

This book was such an interesting reading experience! I loved that it was a modern day contemporary little mermaid retelling. I went into it without having read the synopsis and I’m really glad I did. I felt like I was discovering things right alongside Nixie and really enjoyed that journey. It was my first experience reading a book about a cult (I discovered it was a cult after a few chapters, but this info is in the synopsis) and it was honestly fascinating…and maybe a little creepy to see how easily brainwashed people can be. The only reason this isn’t a 5 star read for me is because I was dissatisfied with how Nixie’s relationship with her father ended…but I guess it fits with the brainwashing, I just was frustrated by it. I’m trying to be vague here because I don’t want to give spoilers, but you’ll understand what I mean when you read the book.

4/5
A Good Story
Written by Tammy A on 6th Apr 2022

I really liked this book. Nexie has lived her life on a boat with other members of her father's cult. She yearns to go to land and see what's it's like. She has been forbidden and told that "drylanders" are bad people. Until the night she saves one of them (Crew) from drowning. I liked Nexie and I wanted her to succeed in her dreams of living off the boat and getting to go to college, I didn't always agree with the choices she made, but kept reminding myself she is a sheltered teenager, so of course she didn't always do what I wanted her to do. Crew seemed almost too good to be true, especially for a teenage boy, but I liked him as well. This story has some twists at the end that I had started to suspect but was still surprised at. I won't give it away, just read this YA story for yourself.

4/5
4 stars
Written by Nichole Taggart on 6th Apr 2022

This was a wonderful story. Nixie has lived on a beached boat since she was 5 years old. Her father has 3 wives, and there are others on the boat as well that Nixie would call her family. One day some teens are partying on the water when something goes horribly wrong and one boy falls into the ocean. Nixie saves this boy named Crew and he calls her a mermaid. This story is definitely well written YA, but I think that adults may like it as well, I know I did! But adults should go into it knowing you’re not going to get an almost NA book it’s definitely YA all the way. Nix starts sneaking away with Crew and experiencing “dry land”, finding out secrets along the way. It’s a captivating story that sucked me in from the start. It wrapped up perfectly.

4/5
Really good
Written by old.enough.for.fairytales on 30th Mar 2022

This book was such an interesting reading experience! I loved that it was a modern day contemporary little mermaid retelling. I went into it without having read the synopsis and I’m really glad I did. I felt like I was discovering things right alongside Nixie and really enjoyed that journey. It was my first experience reading a book about a cult (I discovered it was a cult after a few chapters, but this info is in the synopsis) and it was honestly fascinating…and maybe a little creepy to see how easily brainwashed people can be. The only reason this isn’t a 5 star read for me is because I was dissatisfied with how Nixie’s relationship with her father ended…but I guess it fits with the brainwashing, I just was frustrated by it. I’m trying to be vague here because I don’t want to give spoilers, but you’ll understand what I mean when you read the book.

4/5
A Good Story
Written by Tammy on 30th Mar 2022

I really liked this book. Nexie has lived her life on a boat with other members of her father's cult. She yearns to go to land and see what's it's like. She has been forbidden and told that "drylanders" are bad people. Until the night she saves one of them (Crew) from drowning. I liked Nexie and I wanted her to succeed in her dreams of living off the boat and getting to go to college, I didn't always agree with the choices she made, but kept reminding myself she is a sheltered teenager, so of course she didn't always do what I wanted her to do. Crew seemed almost too good to be true, especially for a teenage boy, but I liked him as well. This story has some twists at the end that I had started to suspect but was still surprised at. I won't give it away, just read this YA story for yourself.

5/5
Magical story
Written by Dianna on 28th Feb 2022

This was a beautiful story. Nixie has lived on a beached boat since she was 5 years old. Her father has 3 wives and there are other people on the boat as well that she considers her family. One day some teens are partying on the water until something goes wrong. Nixie saves a boy named Crew and he calls her a mermaid. This story is considered YA, but I think that adults can enjoy it as well, I sure did! Nix starts sneaking off with Crew and experiencing “dry land” and finding out secrets. It’s a captivating story that sucked me in from the start. It wrapped up beautifully! 5 stars!

4/5
A reimagined story of the Little Mermaid you didn’t know you needed!!
Written by Angela Reed on 28th Feb 2022

This book gave me all the little mermaid feels!! Nixie lives on a beached boat called Atlantica and her father is the leader of this so called utopia with his 3 wives, and 20 of his followers. They have strict rules like anyone under the age 18 are not allowed on the top deck or allowed to leave the boat. ⁣ ⁣ Nixie wants to be where the people are, or what they call drylanders. And one night she sees a bunch of teens partying on the beach and catches her eye on a cute teen boy named Crew. Things go awry when the teen’s fireworks catches Crew’s boat on fire. She ends up saving him and brings him back to shore where he asks her, “Are you a mermaid?” (Literally dying