October 28, 2016
Goodreads Synopsis: Aileen Foster, a shy, 22 year old student from LA, thinks she has landed a dream job as an interpreter for some actors making a film in Japan. She gets a shock when she arrives in Tokyo and finds out that they are UK Crush, the hottest boyband around. She has been orphaned for most of her life, and it’s a shock for her to enter their world of frank physicality. The boys come to love her, and Aileen is forced to look at her life and choices, and decide if she’s ready to be brave and start living.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
If you’ve been following my reviews, you know that I will read anything to do with music, even if that music is a boyband! So I was drawn to this interesting story about sheltered and naive Aileen thrown into the frenzy that is the lifestyle of a boyband. For the first half of the novel I was charmed by the setting and the unique characters of Aileen and UK Crush (Theo, Gethin, Ronan and Matthew) all of whom seem so much younger than their years. There was something extremely innocent (if unbelievable) about the boys open physical affection and then how Aileen falls easily into it, especially given her self-identified asexuality up to that point.
Living in the Shallows also indirectly introduced me to the term: reverse harem, which is probably self-explanatory, but suffice to say that it’s a woman who has a group of guys fall in love with her. So all of the boys fall in love with Aileen and she in turn loves them.
There are many sweet moments of playfulness and lots of affection and she learns about the boys, thrives in their boy world, and they, in turn, slowly learn about Aileen who they discover is a classical pianist who cries over everything. Somehow with all of this crying, Aileen stops holding her own tissues and instead the boys take care of by holding the tissues and telling her to “blow.”
The reader is taken on a nice journey around Japan, made aware of some of its seemier sides, and given a taste of its culture and cuisine.
Much of the first 70% of the novel is cotton candy fluffy, just as sweet, but that’s okay. I frequently read for escapism and found this to be somewhat satisfying if sometimes cheesy and unbelievable; I enjoyed the atmosphere of the boy band and it just seemed fun. Also, the first 70% is definitely YA in nature.
Now the last 30% is another story, almost literally and it was this bit that dropped my rating of Living in the Shallows as Aileen’s focus is just on one of the boys and certain incidents, mostly physical in nature, tested credibility. (Minor rant: In this section, for some reason Aileen tells someone she is not a “musician” because she doesn’t “create” and that kind of annoyed me as a musician is literally a person who plays a musical instrument and the last time I checked the piano was one. It just seemed so out-of-character for someone who was supposed to be intelligent to not understand this. Rant over.) It was in this portion that the novel became a New Adult novel and explored Aileen’s sexuality, which I’m not certain needed to be done as it drastically changed the tenor of the novel, not to mention the fact that several of these scenes just struck me as weird.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
rating: (3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5)
Buy Link: Amazon
Check out sample chapters of the sequel, Diving Deep, on Wattpad!
About the Author
My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51 year old substitute teacher. I’m from central California and am a recent transplant to New York City. The most important things to know about me are that I’m punctual, I love grammar and sushi, and I’m very intolerant of intolerance. The least important things to know about me are that I like to knit and I couldn’t spell “acoustic” for 40 years. I’ve wanted to write since I was ten, and I finally did it. If you want to write, don’t wait as long as I did, it’s pointless, and very frustrating!
5 copies of Living in the Shallows (ebook or paperback – winner’s choice)