by Allana Luta
When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.
Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.
Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)
Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)
Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes) Get a copy: Amazon (ebook) / Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
The one thing that really stayed with me long after I finished reading Ocean Eyes was Six’s writing, specifically her description of the crowd dancing along to Rhys’s set. Rhys is a DJ (most of the time) whose superpower is willing people’s bodies to move to her music even without their express permission. The way Six described her music was just gorgeous.
“Lines of neon colors slither through the air in frenzied swirls. Currents of energy interconnected by blood, sweat, and tears bringing to life a single collective entity, a superorganism made of flailing limbs and intertwining sweat-slick bodies hive-minded by the beats and the sounds. Magenta flows in, delivering malice urgency, and lust; cyan flows out, collecting regret, melancholy, and pain; and yellow sparks in between, triggering feelings previously unknown. To the rhythm of its throbbing, all parts of this superorganism flares up and writhes. Midnight is fast ending—the night is just about to begin.”
And that was only at the beginning of her set.
Rhys herself is an interesting character. She’s unapologetic, stubborn to a fault, and definitely imperfect. She might have been a genius when it came to music production, but she was still insecure in other aspects of her life, particularly in her we’re-together-but-not “thing” with Ryan, her boyfriend, if she could call him that. And I thought the parallelism between Arabella’s uncertainties towards their worth and Rhys’ doubts on her own relationship with Ryan was a nice touch.
I also loved that Rhys was somewhat of a tsundere, ice cold on the outside but actually warm and caring on the inside. Franklin, Arabella’s guitarist, was on to something when he guessed that she was fluffy on the inside at the very beginning of the story. I don’t think “fluffy” is the right word to describe Rhys, though; passionate, maybe, or sympathetic, especially when she felt like she could relate to Arabella’s situation personally.
“She doesn’t have to. It isn’t her job. But no one else was paying attention to Adrian and Michael Brian, and god help her, she felt sorry for the world if the rest of humanity were never to hear these guys and their music.”
“She sees in them the shadow of her younger self, clamoring for attention and validation. If all they want is to be heard, then Rhys will provide the amplifiers.”
I mean, just look at this tsundere.
(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) Also Isaiah, Rhys’ love interest in Ocean Eyes, I feel like was the second male lead in the drama that is Rhys’ love life for so long that even though I had no idea what they had gone through prior to the events in Ocean Eyes, I still felt relieved that Rhys finally gave in and admitted that she liked him back and she was willing to sacrifice a lot for them to work. I have second male lead syndrome, so this was really satisfying to read.
And lastly, Franklin. Franklin is adorable.
Since Ocean Eyes is just a short story based on an existing universe with its own novel, I felt like there was an overload of characters that weren’t introduced well enough to a first time reader of Six’s work. Whenever someone was added to the story, I kind of just glazed over them because they weren’t integral to Rhys and Isaiah’s unfolding relationship. They were just names that distracted from the main plot. But I do realize that for long time readers and fans, they were all probably well-planted Easter eggs that made for good fan service.
Though short and a little confusing for first time readers, Ocean Eyes left enough information out of the plot to be intriguing and entice readers to explore the history of Rhys’ relationships with Isaiah and Ryan. Those well-acquainted with Rhys and Isaiah and the gang, on the other hand, will find this more than entertaining. But with Six de los Reyes’ exquisite writing, everyone is going to want to know what’ll happen next. ☁