It’s an unsettled summer for Sirena. Back in Texas, her family’s splitting apart, but here in Rhode Island, at the cottage of her free-spirited aunt, it’s a different world. There are long days at the beach and intriguing encounters with him. Pilot. He’s the lifeguard with shamanic skills. He both saves her and makes her feel lost at sea. Sirena explores her obsession with Pilot and discovers his mysterious–almost magical–gifts.
The Lifeguard is the kind of book you want to take on a long vacation. I almost regret I didn’t save this one for summer because there isn’t a big chance I’ll be rereading it anytime soon.
When I picked up The Lifeguard, I expected something along the lines of a fun summer read with boys and beaches. There were a boy and plenty of beach time, just not the way I might have imagined.
Silly little me skipped over the genres Goodreads labeled it under and didn’t realize it was actually a paranormal romance in disguise as a contemporary novel.
I’m personally a huge fan of paranormal romance and all the works, reading more of it than I usually do contemporary, but it’s a whole other thing when I see these two genres paired together. The concept is different, though, and could probably work if approached in the right direction. It just wasn’t.
The majority of The Lifeguard is taken up by Sirena focusing on her artwork and trying to distract herself from her parents’ divorce while spending her summer over at her aunt’s beach house. That, let alone, could have sustained the novel, but the author chose to insert various paranormal elements that never seemed to fit.
Turns out Sirena’s aunt’s house is haunted by a ghost, and while this plays such a minor role in the novel you could miss it in the skip of a page, it took away from any potential The Lifeguard had.
Pilot, the summer town’s personal lifeguard, is the only character who made the novel worthwhile for me. He manages to save Sirena from sudden death multiple times and between his motorcycle and put-offish behavior, is the poster child for all the mysterious, brooding men you find in paranormal romances. His role, while pivotal, was at times stressed too much and leaned upon too heavily. Think a carbon copy Raymond from Aquamarine with the powers to feel/hear heartbeats from unreasonable lengths and the ability to bring drowning swimmers to life, and you’ve got our Mr. Lifeguard. What bugged me most about Pilot’s supernatural capabilities was the fact that there was no hint to any of it up until the book was coming to an end. It almost felt like halfway through writing The Lifeguard, Blumenthal decided she wanted a supernatural romantic interest and just went with it from then on. The other paranormal elements were inserted into the script just as abruptly and ill-fitting.
To make matters worse, The Lifeguard wasn’t all too long of a book, and the situation felt rushed enough as it was.
Part of the problem with the contemporary to paranormal switch was that it left no room for Sirena’s character to grow emotionally and overcome her parents’ divorce, instead leaving her to focus all her attention on her lifeguard lover boy.
Sirena and Pilot are instantly drawn to each other, and as expected, Pilot keeps his distance from Sirena for reasons unknown to the reader, only showing up when Sirena happens to be near killing herself, and it’s all too coincidental to be believable. I understand that P.R’s aren’t supposed to be particularly realistic, but again, The Lifeguard‘s story line was so rough and tangled that none of it added up.
I was able to get through the novel in one sitting, and thankfully so because I couldn’t wait to finish. It was filled with dull haunts and sudden romance, no room for development and little outcome. I wish the author could have taken more time to lengthen the novel and give more explanation to specific matters, but the possibility of a sequel doesn’t seem to be ruled out, so maybe that’s where she’s heading.
Anyone interested in a quick summer read with a paranormal contemporary mash-up, The Lifeguard might just be your cup of tea.