This is not the first Lauren Kate novel I’ve picked up. I vaguely remember reading the first book in her Fallen series during one of my summer read-a-thons and I think I liked it, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember. Teardrop tells the story of Eureka Boudreaux, a girl who cannot cry for fear of destroying the world. It’s certainly a very unusual premise for a book. Eureka comes from a line of women who possess the Tearline of Selene, women whose tears have the pour to bring storms. She knows nothing of this heritage until she inherits an ancient book in a foreign language and a Thunderstone. Through the translation of the book, Eureka discovers that she may be reliving the tale of romance and heartbreak in its pages. I viewed both the book and the Thunderstone as quick plot devices and a way of telling the reader how special Eureka is supposed to be.
The first problem I had with Teardrop was the protagonist’s name. There’s no gentle way of putting it: I hate her name. Eureka. Every time her name came up, I had to decide how it should be pronounced, because I never could be happy with my decision. Is it “Eu-reeka,” like the Eureka! of men who have found gold, or people who have figured out the answer to a difficult question? Or is it pronounced the way it would be in Japanese, “Eh-oo-reck-a,” making it sound like an actual name instead of an exclamation? Even with a nickname of “Reka” it’s a horrible name. Imagine the mean things kids would have come up with for a name like Eureka. It has the word “reek” in it. I would have been fine with her name had she been a more interesting character, but she alternated between being bland, to being in insta-love, to being horrible to her friends and family. Possessing a power was not interesting enough to make me forget how boring Eureka is, especially when her powers really only come into play at the end of the novel. There was hardly any character development until the end of the novel, and when it comes it’s a bit sloppy. We’re told rather than shown this development.
I can appreciate that the author tried to take very serious things and put them in Teardrop to attempt more character development. After Eureka’s mother died, she just didn’t want to be anymore. She attempted suicide and had to spend quite a bit of time in a ward for her protection. When the novel starts, Eureka is no longer in the ward, but she has to go to a therapist. She clashes with her therapist because she doesn’t want to talk about what drove her to suicide. All the attempts of her therapist are met with resistance and rather rude behavior. She doesn’t want to tell her therapist that the same mentality that she was in then is occasionally coming back because she’s afraid of going back to the ward. A therapist is paid to help you. They want to make sure you’re okay. It disappointed me that there wasn’t more development beyond this for Eureka concerning her grief about her mother and the relation to not wanting to exist anymore. A suicide attempt is a big deal and a real issue in the world. So to introduce a character who is recovering from an attempted suicide but then sweep it under the rug when a boy comes into play? That’s an issue for me.
So, the boys. Of course, there’s a love triangle because I don’t know if it’s possible for a young adult novel to not have a love triangle anymore. Love triangles can be fine if they make sense (I’m also guilty of putting them into my unpublished work when they fit with the story). However, Teardrop‘s triangle just annoyed me. It was obvious to me right away that Brooks has had feelings for her for ages. Her oldest friend, he’s the one that she confides in and the one who looks out for her in her grief. Then there’s Ander, a boy whose destiny is to stop the Tearline of Selene. He’s been groomed his whole life to know everything about her, and he’s done this by stalking her. As a Seedbearer (huge cringe), Ander has the ability to cast a sort of glamour on himself; people can only remember him when he wants them to remember him. So he knows every intimate detail about her. At first, it’s for reconnaissance. But then he falls in love with her, until one day he can’t stand that she doesn’t know who he is and he inserts himself into her life. It is incredibly creepy. I don’t find it romantic at all, so I could not suspend my disbelief when their “relationship” progressed, especially when Brooks is in the picture. Unfortunately, he’s not quite himself. If he had been, he would have told Eureka how stupid she was being.
The girls and women in Teardrop did not fare much better when they were being developed as characters. There wasn’t much there. There was a mystic, who could have been a really cool character. I love birds, so I’d love to know how Madame Blavatsky did it. There was a pushy and mean step-mom who only seemed to care for Eureka’s two younger half-siblings. There was Cat, the best friend who’s painted as someone who only thinks about sex. Eureka’s aunt. Her therapist. A rival girl at her school. All of these women are not multi-faceted. There is one reason for them to exist, and that is to be one sided (and often for Eureka to judge in some way). I know, speaking from experience, that girls can be very catty toward each other. But that does not mean that there are not other sides to relationships between girls. Lauren Kate had the opportunity to really develop Eureka and Cat’s relationship; instead, she–along with the other characters of the novel–got pushed away as it became apparent that the novel was only going to be Eureka and Ander.
I’m disappointed that this book ended up focusing more on the romance aspect of the story when other parts would have been far more interesting. The setting in the bayou of Louisiana was really well-written and visual. I was able to relate to it a lot because it sounded similar to where I’m living now, so it wasn’t a far stretch to imagine it. Teardrop is said to be a story with mythology, but it didn’t have enough. I love the story of Atlantis, so I was really excited that Teardrop was supposed to pull from that legend and connect it to the modern world. Most of the book was set in the mundane world, but it seems like more of the mythology aspect is going to be explored in the second book. I am going to continue the series because I’m interested in Lauren Kate’s take on Atlantis. Although I don’t care about the romance in the story, I am interested in seeing what happens to the supporting characters. I hope they’ll be developed a bit more in the next novel.