When Oceans Rise by Robin Alvarez - Book review

Published 06 Jun 2023
by Anca Antoci

Title: When Oceans Rise
Author: Robin Alvarez
Released: 23.05.2023
Buy from Amazon
4.56 (read)
Our review:
4.50 (read)

"When Oceans Rise" is an enthralling YA fantasy by Robin Alvarez, exploring the story of 17-year-old Filipino-American character, Malaya.. Immersed in the turbulent whirlwind of an abusive relationship, Malaya’s personal connections with friends and family crumble under the weight of her distress, leaving her with a solitary lifeline—a sea witch, one of the enchanting mythological creatures from Filipino folklore.

Alvarez shows an elegant prowess in capturing the authentic struggles of real-life experiences within the framework of a fantastical narrative. The protagonist’s endeavors resonate with readers as they navigate the intricate paths of life and endeavor to heal from trauma. Throughout the narrative, the author expertly interweaves insights into Filipino culture, customs, and familial dynamics, providing readers with an enriching opportunity to broaden their understanding of this vibrant heritage. Alvarez's inventive use of Filipino folklore in "The Little Mermaid" adds a unique layer to a classic story.

The book fearlessly tackles weighty subjects such as physical and emotional abuse, emphasizing the protagonist’s overwhelming desire to escape her harrowing circumstances and embark on a journey of self-liberation. The author's dedication to showing the intricacies of the healing process is remarkable. Particularly enthralling is the parallel universe that serves as the primary backdrop for most of the story. Malaya forms powerful bonds while fighting extraordinary creatures. The notion of these monsters being visible solely to those who believe in the supernatural is a clever and imaginative concept that evokes a sense of wonder and affection for this realm. Moreover, it underscores the boundless potential for incorporating diverse mythological creatures from various cultures into the realm of fantasy literature.

Readers should prepare themselves for a deeply emotional narrative punctuated by moments of magic, meticulous world-building, and dashes of humor. While the ending may catch readers off guard, leaving some with a sense of understatement, it appears to serve as a prelude to an expected sequel, which holds promise for further exploration and development of the story’s universe.

"When Oceans Rise" offers a stimulating and culturally rich experience. Alvarez’s masterful storytelling and skillful exploration of delicate themes make this book a compelling read for young adult audiences and beyond.


Our final verdict: