Book Review: Underneath (Under Book 1) by M.N. Arzu

When Chris is found injured on the beach in mer-form and taken to a hospital, the existence of merfolk is discovered, and the medical community, the US military, the UN, the media, and the public all want answers. Meanwhile, Chris is just trying to survive, and his family must decide whether rescuing him is worth the risks.

Book Review: Underneath (Under Book 1) by M.N. Arzu | reading, books, book reviews, paranormal/urban fantasy, mermaids/mermen
Title: Underneath
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 326
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


To put it simply, this was a great book. It was unlike any merfolk book I’ve read, not because the merfolk themselves were so unique, but because of the premise: What would happen if an injured man were brought to a hospital and it was discovered he was an actual merman?

I loved this realistic take on merfolk being discovered by humans and felt like the author did a great job at considering the way different parts of society would react (the doctors and scientists were interested for one reason, the military was interested for another reason, the reporters thought it a hoax and were trying to figure out the real story). The way the humans all had theories, the things they speculated on, the incorrect things they assumed, that added a lot to the realism. Even the way the merfolk reacted was believable, how they had to consider the risks of rescuing him.

The touching family relationships were my other favorite thing about this book. At the core of this story was a father and his three adopted sons, one of whom was the captured merman, Chris. They may have been adopted, but that didn’t make their love any less strong. Julian was in a hard position, trying to figure out what was best, but I could very much feel his emotions and how much he cared for all of his kids.It was also really sweet how Matt would sit in his car near the place where Chris was being kept just to chat and even play music for Chris to listen to through their telepathic connection. And since poor Alex couldn’t do the long-range telepathy, he sat on his computer nearly 24/7 to watch video feeds of Chris that he hacked into. There was such a strong, loving family dynamic.

There were some surprisingly emotional moments. Not just touching ones about family who loved each other, but also moments that made me feel angry at the doctors and military personnel and sympathy for the merfolk they’d captured.

Another great thing was that all the characters were three-dimensional and believable and felt like real people. And let me tell you, there were a lot of characters. I especially liked all the Brooks family members, but I think my favorite was Chris (the captured merman). The way he was portrayed through the other characters’ eyes, the way his family felt about him, made him seem like a really amazing, kind, compassionate, understanding guy who brought light into everyone’s life.

The one and only issue I had with this book was that it had too many POVs. Having so many POVs and so many characters made things harder to keep track of and slowed the story way down. I understand the reasoning behind the decision—the author wanted to show a variety of perspectives that included doctors, the military, the UN, and Chris’s family—but I think the book could’ve had more of an emotional punch had it focused on fewer. That being said, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I still managed to connect with the characters and sink into the story, which is usually the issue I have with too many POVs.

Overall, I really liked these characters, their touching family dynamic, this take on merfolk, the premise, and the whole story, and I would definitely like to continue this series and spend more time with the Brooks family!


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    1. Kristen Burns

      I completely agree. In fact, I have a discussion post about too many POVs written up but not posted yet lol. But I was at least impressed with how unique each character was and how I was still able to feel an emotional connection to some of them!

  1. Irena BookDustMagic

    Ohh, when there’s too many POVs, it confuses me. However, I think this book should be interesting. I love the idea how we get to see even merfolk’s POV, and everyone else’s speculations…

    1. Kristen Burns

      It can confuse me too, but I still enjoyed this one! The further I got, the easier it was to remember all the characters, and it was interesting seeing some of the different theories and speculations!

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    What a fantastic premise. I like that it focuses on merfolk in such a different way. I’m sure the humans all did have different ideas and thoughts – which makes it intriguing for sure. Chris sounds like a wonderful character, as does his family. I don’t read a lot of books with TONS of pov’s, but sometimes it works out okay.


    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s such a great idea for a book, right? I loved how different humans had different theories and they didn’t all just miraculously seem to guess everything correctly. The family was so cute <3

  3. Lola

    That does sound like a great premise for a mermaid book. I did read a series where the mermaid dind’t want to go to the hospital for that reason and actually got discovered by a few people. But I don’t think I’ve read any where mermen become common knowledge, it does seem more common with other paranormal creatures. It sounds like this book does a good job of showing the different perspectives and how everyone reacts pretty realistically.

    That family dynamic sounds great! And the captured merman sounds like a great character too. Too bad about the too many pov’s. Although I can see how it would be interesting to see the different point of views in a situation like this, it can quickly become too many pov’s. Glad to hear it was still enjoyable even with the many pov’s.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was a premise I’d never seen before! And you’re right, there are a lot of books with other supes being common knowledge, but you never see it with merfolk.

      The family dynamic was so cute, and I think it’d be impossible to not adore Chris. Thanks, I’m also glad it still turned out well despite a few too many POVs 🙂

  4. Olivia Roach

    You’ve been reading quite a few books where there are a lot of POVs lately! I am always all for merfolk books though, and I can’t get enough of them. I need to read them more actually, because you wouldn’t be able to tell how much I love them from the lack of them on my reading list. Oops. Also, I really like this author considers all the different ways different societies and communities would react to the discovery. I like that he doesn’t just limit it to the human discovery but the sub-communities within as well ^.^

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, I did happen to read both of these recently, and it was so weird they both had more POVs than any other books I’ve ever read lol. I’m the same! I love merfolk but have hardly read about them! The diff reactions of the humans was really cool!

  5. Daniela Ark

    now that I’ve been writing so much I have a new appreciation for characterization! It is SO SUPER hard to make characters sound to real people. Ask me to plot a story and yes! I can do that! I think that’s my strength is plotting. But wow people are hard to write LOL. I thought I didn’t like many POVs either but I’ve been enjoying some book with multiple POVs lately 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      It does seem like a super hard thing to do! That’s why I was impressed. Like, maybe I didn’t get to know every character super well, but they still felt real. Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying multiple POVs 🙂

  6. Tessa

    I went through a HUGE mermaid phase a couple of years ago and it looks like this book is going to revive it. There aren’t many realistic takes on merfolk (probably because they are literally people with tails who can magically breathe underwater). I love fantasy and magic, but I also love when reality and magic cross paths. I can’t imagine what would happen if people actually found mermaids, so I guess I have to read Underneath to find out! Thanks for the great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah it seems like most mer books take place under the sea or in fantasy worlds or something. You don’t see nearly as many that put merfolk into the real world like this! And if you like those two things crossing paths, I think you might like this one 🙂 At least I hope you do!

  7. Greg

    Nice! Merfolk obviously for the win, but a book that can juggle a lot of POV’s and still work- that’s pretty impressive. Plus yeah the premise- that is super fascinating, to imagine what would happen if a REAL merperson was found.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I really need to read more books about merfolk! I was surprised at how much I was still able to enjoy the story and connect to the characters, even with so many POVs. And I love the premise!

  8. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Hmm, this one sounds interesting. Very character driven though, right? Which isn’t my strong point as a reader… I do love that it’s so realistic though and the characters do sound great. I also love a great family rep… Too many POVs can be an issue… Overall though I’m intrigued!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ummm, maybe 50/50 characters and plot? Idk, stop asking me hard questions 😂 Not action-packed though. But yeah, I loved the realism and the adorable family!

  9. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Not another with too many pov! What is even happening here? But it does sound like a really good and original read and one I want to get ahold of because who knew there could be a new take on mer-people? I think we’ve all seen the ‘My Little Mermaid’ type book which is boring. I’ve seen the deadly siren type. But somehow there is still something different to read and it sounds lovely.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I DON’T KNOW. I read these right around the same time and was also wondering what was going on with all the POVs lol. But right? I feel like most mer books I’ve come across are either a retelling, something that takes place under the sea, or about man-eating mermaids. Ok so I actually remembered the other day that I did once read a book in which a guy discovered a mer and I think it ended up at some aquatic research place? Idk, I don’t really remember the story, so that tells you how good the book was. This one was great though!

  10. Bookworm Brandee

    This does sound like a good story, Kristen. I like the familial bonds and the emotion the story seems to have evoked in you. And I especially like the realism. You have me cuirous, not only about these mer-people but also how the government and medical field, as well as humanity in general, would treat mer-people were they to be found. I’m getting the feeling that part was very realistic. 🙂 Great review!

  11. Dani Eide

    Wow, an intriguing premise. ❤️ Love that we see the MC through others eyes. I think if we knew others’ thoughts about ourselves, we would have a more well rounded view of who we are. Multiple POV can be tricky, I will take it as positive since you were still have to connect with the characters. Excellent review Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I imagine the way we see ourselves and the way other people see us probably does differ for most people. But that’s one of the good things about having multiple POVs in a book, getting to see characters through other characters! Thanks 🙂