Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com
It seems to Marina like it should be a dream: six weeks on a luxurious ship, experiencing ocean life face to face as she's never been able to before, and the chance to further her goal of becoming a marine biologist. But she can't help worrying that she'll miss her long-time boyfriend, Damon, so much that the trip will become a nightmare. That's the basic premise of GIRL OVERBOARD, a fun, fast read that's easy to enjoy, especially if you share Marina's fascination with the ocean.
Marina is a likable main character, with insecurities and doubts anyone can relate to as she struggles to figure out what she wants out of life. Her heart's in the right place, but she can't help taking a few missteps along the way, which just makes her all the more sympathetic. The other major characters -- flirtatious Link, bubbly Jeanette, thoughtful Ryan -- are colorful and distinctive. They also all prove to have more to them than Marina (and the reader) first suspects.
The novel is most involving when dealing with Marina's oceanic studies. The author bio reveals that Ferris has spent many years in the Caribbean, and her experience shows in the vivid descriptions of the landscapes, animals, and island life, as well as the detailed procedures Marina participates in to try to preserve that environment. The reader feels right there with Marina, whether it's feeding a dolphin for the first time or diving with an enormous whale shark. It's clear why Marina loves this work so much, and anyone can understand why she's considering leaving everything she cares about back home to pursue her dream career.
Where the novel falters a little is in Marina's romantic conflicts. Her realization of the differences between herself and her boyfriend develops gradually and realistically, and her attraction to Link, who shares many of her interests and values, seems only natural. Unfortunately, the problems that arise with both Damon and Link are resolved so easily there is hardly any tension at all -- Marina simply speaks her mind, and everything works out. While it's wonderful to portray honesty as a solution to problems, a few more complications would have made this part of the story more exciting and interesting.
Nevertheless, the focus of the novel is more on the ocean and Marina's adoration for it than on the boys in her life. There, the novel succeeds completely. Whether as a beach read or a read for those who only wish they were down by the sea, it won't fail to entertain.
This is a fast, fun summer read - something you can finish very quickly. The storyline is great also!