Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

It doesn’t happen often, but this is one of those times where I just don’t have clear cut opinions about a book.

Before I go any further it’s incredibly important to point out the serious topics this book contains. Please practice caution when reading this story and make yourself aware of the content warnings before beginning it. Sara Ella dives deep into the topic of mental health and gives some very graphic descriptions of suicide attempts.

There are some really honest depictions of mental health in this story and that is always something I am thankful to see. It’s nice to know that it hasn’t been sugar-coated and is instead presented in an honest way. I haven’t heard that this is own voices, but with how honest so much of it was I wouldn’t be surprised.

Though we saw great mental health representation, in the end, it felt like the story wanted us to believe that love is the cure. This rubbed me completely the wrong way. The book does depict positive therapy experiences and shows that there is no shame in taking medication, so it’s possible I misinterpreted the ending. But that’s how it felt to me.

We get three POVs that mostly alternate each chapter – Coral, Brooke, and Merrick. They start off as drastically different storylines and it was a little hard to keep everything straight. The transitions between them oftentimes felt abrupt and there would be weird time jumps. I was able to tell how they would connect in the end and once they finally started to things got a bit better.

The overall plot was a bit muddy and hard to distinguish. I wasn’t sure for the majority of the book what the main goal was that the characters were working towards which was frustrating. Even at the end when everything was resolved it seemed like a few things that started out as major issues were wrapped up quickly and almost brushed under the rug because they had been forgotten about.

As I was reading there were several lines that stuck out to me as being…not great.

- “He didn’t have to be a prodigy to figure out she was prone to becoming an emotional wreck due to the simple fact she was growing a human inside her.”

- “Though he wasn’t in the mood to deal with whacky woman hormones…”

- “Bastion got choked up and Merrick found his own emotions wavering…This in Merrick’s opinion, was the most manly thing he had ever witnessed.”

These lines seem to be tearing girls down for having emotions while simultaneously praising men for having them. Also, unless I missed something, the only characters in the story that had mental illnesses were girls. I just wasn’t a fan of the connotation all of this seemed to carry.

Coral by Sara Ella had some great things about it that I enjoyed but also several things that made me cringe. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t buy a copy for myself, but I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody else from reading it.
Was this review helpful?
I had so many high hopes for Coral by Sara Ella and I feel like I need to say that before I continue with my review. I did end up finishing this book but it was a constant struggle to do so. This is a definitely a book you have to read from start to finish to get the full story. For me the ending did redeem itself slightly after discovering the MAJOR plot twist but I still think the whole story just fell flat. I was expecting a dark and twisty take on The Little Mermaid like the tale Hans Christian Andersen built and although I saw the connections Ella drew on, it just didn’t have the same feel to it. This was a contemporary novel masquerading as a fairy tale and I just don’t think it worked.

I am glad that I was able to read this book and I want to thank Netgalley and the publishers at Thomas Nelson for giving me this opportunity to read an early copy. 

The writing was excellent and the amount of planning that must have gone into this book is impressive. It was a complex story but unfortunately for me I couldn’t appreciate it fully. The very structure confused me to the point where I couldn’t enjoy the story because I was too busy worrying I didn’t know who was who or what was going on. It took a little too much thinking for me to understand it and I like my reads to be a little more straight forward than this one was. 

I also didn’t like all the suicide talk and how much it played into the story. It’s heavily incorporated into the theme of the novel and it is very emotionally charged. There will be times where Ella describes the acts and consequences of suicide so just be mindful of those triggers before digging into Coral. I also think the use of the term ‘Red Tide’ was strange and the whole phrasing just seemed off. I also disliked the use of ‘disease’ when they talked about having emotions and how that makes a person weak. The idea that only women could be affected by that was an off putting idea that was hard to wrap my head around. I know it went with the story but for me I just thought it was weird phrasing that is too easily misconstrued.  

I do think she did an amazing job on the romance between her main character (MC) and Merrick. I especially loved Merrick and he definitely was a Prince in my opinion. I also like her clever use of colour symbolism to create moods, tones and description. I found it a poetically different way to describe and evoke emotions and she executed it with perfection. The associations and connections she made were brilliant and reasonably justified. 

In all I can only give this book 3 stars because despite the romance and the writing, this plot just didn’t hit the mark in terms of readability and concept. It was too hard to follow and I think it strayed too far from its inspiration of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an ARC of this book! Release date - November 12, 2019

I think this was a beautiful book. It’s pretty unusual to find a YA book that solely focuses on mental illness and suicide despite the fact that it’s more and more common in the world today. I think Sara Ella came up with a truly clever and unique storyline. I absolutely LOVED the concept. While the beginning is a bit disjointed, with the three perspectives that didn’t seem to have anything to do with each other, once I realized what was really going on I had to just stop and marvel at the beautiful cleverness of it. 

However I found it hard to rate this one. I loved the concept and storyline enough to pretty much give this 5 stars. But I don’t know if it was because I had an ARC or if the writing style really wasn’t up to par, but I found it very YA and choppy. I’m actually interested enough to check out a finished version, because if it’s just because I had an early version or not-finished-editing ARC, I’d definitely up my rating to 4 stars. 

Truly a sad and beautiful concept. Definitely glad I gave this book a shot.
Was this review helpful?
Let me say that without the author's trigger warning for this novel, I would have been taken off guard even more. I have been on a mermaid binge trying to find at least one book that I actually like and can follow. Coral was not an exception. I really thought this novel was being sold as a mermaid piece, but that light quickly dies after the first few chapters. Note to anyone wanting to read: this novel is a great read for those who enjoy more realistic fiction instead of fantasy. While this fact did factor into my review, the main reason for my low starred review was the writing itself. I was hoping for more setting and world-building but instead was left with trivial dialogue just for the sake of dialogue. For example, on one page a character checks out another character's body then admonishes himself for sounding a sexist. This was unnecessary and seemed more like a ploy for the reader to like the character rather than any character building. That being said, this novel does develop a good conversation about mental health and mental health stigmas. Even though the whole changing POVs (especially with characters that are not even real) is confusing, parts of this text would be great to use in a classroom when discussing mental health.
Was this review helpful?
Who doesn't love the Mermaid Universe? I went into this knowing nothing more than that. This book tackles a lot: suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and consent issues.
This book isn't the Ariel retelling that I thought it would be. At least, I was happy to see most of these topics handled very well. The portrayal of mental illness treatment centers, for example, was completely accurate.
For Coral (a merperson), her society treats all emotions as diseases, and she and her sister struggle against those beliefs. Merrick's sister attempts suicide/his mother leaves home, and while he is searching for his Mom, he finds Coral. Brooke is a human with depression that is in therapy. The chapters alternate somewhat, and the original Little Mermaid story is loosely included in the plot as well.
This is a heavy book, as all the characters are brought together by one mental illness or another. I think the plot is executed well, but it won't be a re-read for me.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC for me to review.  All opinions are my own in this review
I want to start off by thanking the author and publisher for a clear trigger warning page before this story begins. The trigger warning is for suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and unwanted advances. 
With that trigger warning in place, I was able to pace myself with this story, and take my time ensuring that my mental health was still in check throughout the read.  This book obviously deals with some heavy topics, and can lead the reader to feel some discomfort whilst reading it. 
But all in all, I thought this book was wonderful. I think it is important, and will save lives. It's not perfect.  There are some things within the plot that could have been ironed out a bit more. These characters did genuinely feel real to me. I felt their pain and heartache as I read. If you were hoping for a fluffy read, this is far from it. 
The journey these characters go on I found to be relatable in a way that was accessible. I felt part of their story, and I think that was the important part to me. 
I'm trying so hard not to spoil things, because I think the less you know about the plot, the more you can enjoy.  Yes, please pay attention to those triggers. If you can handle it, please give this book a try.
Was this review helpful?
This book is so beautiful and haunting. It's told from three different perspectives: Merrick, a rich boy trying to do what's best for his baby sister; Brooke, a girl who feels she has nothing at all to live for; and Coral, a mermaid with synesthesia who becomes human to exact revenge on the human who broke her sister's heart.

I applaud Ella on her use of trigger warnings, as the book openly discusses anxiety, depression, treatment centers, and suicide. But it's never for shock value. It all serves a purpose in the story. I especially adored the parts that paid homage to The Little Mermaid, both the original version and the Disney one.

I highly recommend this story!
Was this review helpful?
I received a complimentary copy of Coral by Sara Ella from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Coral will be released tomorrow on November 12th.

First, I'd like to make it clear that this book is much more about mental illness than it is about mermaids. Coral deals heavily with the subjects of depression and suicide. This could be triggering for some people, so I wanted to specify that first in case anyone just looks at the cover and thinks it's a fun mermaid adventure. It's not.
This book follows three characters: Brooke, a girl who has just entered a care facility for those suffering from mental illness, Merrick, the son of a wealthy businessman with a complicated family, and Coral, a mermaid princess who fears she has the same "disease" as her older sister.
In Coral, Sara Ella uses the story of The Little Mermaid to address topics surrounding suicide and depression. I love fairytale retellings and I admire the idea of using one to address mental illness, but I found Coral difficult to read. The three characters and their stories are all connected, but the timelines don't match up throughout the story, which made the story feel stilted and confusing to piece together. Ella leaves a lot of things vague in order to keep the reader guessing and allow for "surprise twists" later in the book, but rather than making me want to read more to unravel the story, the vagueness just left me frustrated. The characters often felt one-dimensional to me and it was hard to relate to them or grow to like them. I loved the idea of this book, but I was left feeling disappointed. I found the second half more enjoyable and straightforward than the first, but this book still didn't sing for me.
Was this review helpful?
Trigger warnings for suicide, attempted suicide, death, abandonment, anxiety, and depression. 
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the EARC. 

I expected this to be more of a little mermaid story set in modern day and that is so not what this was. This follows 3 characters all experiencing suicide and depression in different ways. We have Coral, a mermaid princess, who’s sister is struggling with emotions, her people believe that emotions are only for humans and not for merpeople they see emotions as a disease. Coral is very close to her older sister and seems to also be suffering from emotions as well. We also have Brooke who lives in the human world and is suffering from depression and enters into therapy. And we have Merrick and he comes from a rich family. His sister suffers from depression and has attempted suicide and as this happens his mother vanishes and as Merrick goes searching for her he comes across Coral. 

I have to say that this felt very rushed and the time jumps did not help. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters I tried I really did and I almost could with coral but towards the middle I just couldn’t care at all. I really felt very confused towards the middle because I thought this was going to be a fantasy retelling of the little mermaid but then realized in the middle towards the end what the author was doing and by that point it was to late and I wasn’t enjoying it. I feel really bad because I do really appreciate what the author was doing but this just didn’t do it for me.
Was this review helpful?
Review contains spoilers for the book.

Coral by Sara Ella was a book that did well to convey the seriousness of themes including mental health, anxiety, depression, and suicide, but it wasn’t a book that I thought did well with its characters, plot, and pacing.

Going by the description given for the book, it sounded like Coral would be a modern retelling of the famous fairy tale of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, whose quotes are littered throughout this book in a thoughtful way, but the description didn’t stress enough just how dark this book really was. 

I’m someone who actually enjoys reading books that are darker and loaded with angst, but even this was too much for me at times, especially past the halfway point of the book. As a retelling, Coral didn’t do enough to be one. It’s very brief, and I just expected more out of this book with The Little Mermaid than what I actually got.

Coral is told through the POVs of three different characters: Coral, Brooke and Merrick. I had no trouble distinguishing one from the other, but when all three POVs came together, several times I was confused and unable to tell what was going on. It didn’t help either that the pacing of this book was faster than I would’ve wanted. There were chapters that moved at a very slow pace, then chapters that moved at a very fast pace. 

The pacing just wasn’t balanced enough, and because of it a lot of important events were skipped out on. We didn’t get to see things, such as Coral adapting to not living as a mermaid anymore and being out of the palace and how the relationships between Coral and Merrick and Brooke and Hope developed more. Having this development would’ve slowed down the pacing and would’ve made me feel more for these characters than I did.

There wasn’t much to Coral, Brooke, or Merrick either aside from what they were each going through in their lives. Their personalities were never given a real chance to be shown. When it was revealed that all three of these characters were important to each other and the plot, it didn’t have as much of an impact on me as author Sara Ella probably wanted. It’s like everything came together but without giving the reader enough time to understand it all.

Overall I’d still recommend Coral, but I’d be very careful about who I’d recommend it to. It’s such a heavy book that for anyone wanting to read it, I’d say that they should be aware of what they’re going into first.
Was this review helpful?
I felt like every character in this book had something mentally wrong with them and I am sorry but that makes this story unbelievable. I couldn't relate to any of the characters because it felt like every one had something wrong. I give the author props for trying to bring attention to anxiety and depression.
Was this review helpful?
I was expecting this book was a fantasy retelling but it was much more than that. It took me a week to read this because the story was raw, heartbreaking and full of emotions. But it was written beautifully. I really loved it and author's note was amazing too.
Was this review helpful?
All I can say about this book it is that I didn't expect it coming. I thought would be a cute retelling of The little mermaid or just another fantasy. I never was so wrong! The story is not a fantasy, it is the cruel reality. 
The main key of the book is mental health. The author is trying to show the world what means to have a mental health problem by calling it a disease. Because this is the truth. By reading this book you would understand that having a mental illness is not something minor, it is not something that can disappear because you say so.
I really enjoyed the book even if at the beginning I was a little confused why there were 3 stories and why 2 of them were written in the 3rd person. But you will understand why in the middle of the book.
Coral is a heartbreaking book. I cried, I smile and again I cried. Maybe this book is not the book I want to read. But it is the book you need to read. 
Thank you JustRead and NetGalley for this eArc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I didn't like this at all. It was boring and I couldn't keep my concentration. It was very different than I expected. The mental health rep was very well done but I didn't like the story
Was this review helpful?
This one's writing and ending were REALLY confusing. I really liked Coral and her story but the other two MCs were MEH. I ate this arc up like Halloween candy but it's ultimately forgettable.
Was this review helpful?
I believe the mental health descriptions are accurate and believable, but I'd definitely not push this book on everyone due to the content.
I expected it to be more a little mermaid re-telling than what it was.
I didn't get the changes between the character's viewpoints and this part was poorly executed.
It felt too long and drawn out for me, but kudos again to the author for tackling such a topic.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC. All opinions about this book are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! This book was much deeper than I expected. I came into this only knowing that’s it a YA retelling of The Little Mermaid. Sign. Me. Up. What I didn’t know is how in depth it would be, and how mental illness would be the main subject, weaved into all of the character’s lives. This book is extremely triggering at points, with self-harm and suicide being events at the forefront. But reading how the characters respond, hurt and heal was very realistic and I think this book would be really helpful to those who maybe don’t understand mental health issues. The overlying messages of you are not nothing and you are not alone are also extremely important.
Was this review helpful?
I'm not sure how to feel about this book, to be honest. On one hand I love the idea of tackling mental health with a Little Mermaid retelling. It's something that hasn't been done. On the other hand, the Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney story so I guess I'm a little picky. 

The story was generally good - I love how the mental health stigma was portrayed in this world.

Unfortunately the bad outweighed the good for me. Brook is the only POV told in first person and that drives me absolutely bonkers. There's also a thing about how only the women can have the disease, insinuating depression doesn't affect men. A lot of times throughout the story, I even found myself wondering what was going on. 

Unfortunately I had to DNF this one about 60% in. Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read it.
Was this review helpful?
honestly didn't expect this book to be about mental illness or how well it showed it and it was pleasant surprise to see the theme in the book. I like how it shows mental illness in a different way compared to other books and it explains it really well for those who haven't experienced it. I like how it was 3 stories intertwined with each other and while it was confusing to start with once you got into the book things became clearer. I loved the character of Brooke and how she struggled with finding her place above the water. It was a great reimagined tale of The Little Mermaid and it's definitely not your typical fairy tale.
Was this review helpful?
Sara Ella's Coral is a novel that deals heavily with mental health, and all of her characters are touched by it in some way, shape, or form. Ella's descriptions of depression, anxiety, and suicide are brutal, and so she's placed a trigger warning at the beginning of the novel, one I didn't note when I was eagerly flipping through to the start of the story, and I regretted it. So, since Ella has published her trigger warning note on Goodreads as well as in the beginning of her novel, I'm also posting it below, because it's powerful, and you need to know about it before you start this novel:

"Trigger Warning & A Note to My Readers: For my friends who have experienced trauma, a warning—this story may be triggering. I have done my best to approach the mental health topics addressed in this book in the most sensitive and caring way possible. But even all the research and sensitivity readers in the world would never make it so I could approach every aspect of mental health from every perspective. Your experience is unique to you.

Potential triggers include suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.

With that said, while some of what I have written comes from research and some from the caring eyes of sensitivity readers who have lived through many of these experiences, other pieces come from my own personal experience with emotional trauma. If you have lost a loved one, I’m with you. If you face depression or anxiety, my heart aches with you in a truly personal way. If you have ever felt misunderstood for these things or simply wanted to escape altogether—I understand.

For the girl who is not okay. For the boy who wonders if it will ever get better. This story is for you.

My hope is that Coral’s tale may be a small pinprick of light in your darkness—a reminder that you are seen. You are loved. You are not alone. You are not nothing, my friend. And neither am I.


Sara Ella"

I think if I'd read that trigger warning before starting this novel, I would have approached it in an entirely different light, and that is on me, and also why I need all potential readers to be ready for it. This is not a lighthearted tale, even though it deals with mermaids, and readers might think it's going to be specifically a retelling of "The Little Mermaid." It's not. It's not really a mermaid story at all, but rather an in-depth gritty look at characters who are emotionally broken, who are truly hurting for a multitude of reasons. I've read a number of books that tout that they deal with tragedy and mental health, but then find that the author sugar coats it all to create a happy ending. But this is not that story, and Ella does not sugarcoat anything.

I also think that had I read the trigger warning, I would have understood what was happening within the novel much quicker than I did, though the foreshadowing and hints are woven throughout.

What I mean is, Ella does not clearly connect the stories and points of view together for a very long time, which she is doing on purpose, but it is also frustrating for the reader, especially because she continually mentions happenings and starts down a pathway for the story and then just leaves the loose ends hanging for a majority of the novel… so long, in fact, that I nearly put this novel on my “did not finish” pile a number of times, because even at the halfway mark, I was still wondering what the purpose of the story was, and when the exposition would end and the rising action would begin.

The novel starts by introducing us to Coral, “the littlest mermaid” as she readies to turn 16 and take her place within her family. However, the Red Tide is coming for her oldest sister, and it’s bad… and that’s about all we initially know. Throughout the whole novel, we’re given many tidbits of information, but nothing concrete enough to really know what’s going on or what has happened in the past to these characters for us to make much sense of it all, or to begin making the connections needed. And while I think this was done in order to drive suspense, I think for me, it did the opposite, and confused me more than anything else. We jump from Coral to Brooke without much connection, then to Merrick, and round it goes, until suddenly, the mermaid world is no longer discussed and everything takes place on land. It’s here that I began to suspect what Ella was attempting to do with the story, yet the information we’re given is so halted that I felt like I always had more questions than answers as I read. It’s not until near the end that Ella confirmed my suspicions about who these characters are and how they’re all connected, and while I think it was a great plot twist idea, the execution of it fell a bit flat as it took so long and there was so much confusion prior, that it almost just fizzled out for me.

And yet, it works. While I did spend a majority of this novel thinking, “what is happening” and feeling like too much was glossed over and not fleshed out enough, when the plot twist was finally revealed, I felt validated—and this is when the real emotion of the novel hit me. That, and then another part towards the end, which I’m sorry to post about, as it’s a tiny spoiler, but one I feel potential readers need to know about because it is beyond tragic: a child commits suicide. That broke me. I was hanging on pretty well up until that point, but that is something that I did not expect and it really triggered me based on my own personal life, and I just… well, like I said, Ella does not sugarcoat, and she shouldn’t if she’s going to do a book on mental illness that hits home.

And this brings me to my conclusion—all this to say that this is a good book, although confusing and perpetually dark. Three stars.

I recieved an ARC of this novel, which releases today, from Thomas Nelson Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review..

**My review will go live on Nov. 11**
Was this review helpful?