Sink or Swim (Whatever After #3) Review
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Unabridged Digital Audiobook
Runtime: 3 hours, 19 minutes
Read by Emily Eiden

In each book in her Whatever After series, author Sarah Mlynowski changes up classic fairy tales, using twists and turns to teach young readers (or listeners) valuable lessons about finding their own happily ever after. And in the audio edition of the third installment, Sink or Swim, the books’ dimension-hopping siblings find themselves in an adventure under the sea.

The story finds 10-year-old Abby and her brave little brother, Jonah, traveling back through the magic mirror in their basement and into the watery world of the Little Mermaid. They arrive in the kingdom of Mustard just as the mermaid, Lana, rescues handsome Prince Mortimer from drowning. Abby remembers that the mermaid’s story is particularly unpleasant—so, even though she promised that she’d never ruin a fairy tale again, she sets out to change the story and save the lovesick young mermaid. But, as it turns out, the Little Mermaid doesn’t really want to be saved.

Once again, Abby and Jonah find themselves messing with one of their favorite fairy tales—and, in the process, Abby learns some important lessons that she can apply to her life back in Smithville. This time, however, the lesson feels a bit forced. From Lana’s stubbornness and defiance (which could very well get her killed), young readers are supposed to learn that they should follow their heart when something is really important to them—even when they’re told otherwise. Admittedly, the way in which this translates into Abby’s own life is pretty harmless—but, as the mother of an already headstrong little girl, I’m not entirely sure how far I want her to take the book’s recommendation.

Meanwhile, though Abby and Jonah are as lovable as ever this time around, the other characters aren’t nearly as charming as you might like them to be. Lana’s audacity seems rather foolhardy here—especially after Abby tells her how her story will most likely end. And Prince Mortimer is far from the ideal. He’s vain and superficial—only interested in Lana for her pretty face. And while that adds to the story’s important lessons (i.e., get to know your handsome prince before you give up everything to be with him), it does tarnish the beloved story just a bit.

Still, despite its imperfections, Sink or Swim is another imaginative adventure. This third twisted fairy tale in the series offers a clever and eye-opening take on a well-known fairy tale—and the adorable young characters once again bring their own unique perspectives to their latest predicament.

Sink or Swim isn’t the best installment in the Whatever After series, but it’s still a fun-filled trip through fairy tale land. Open-minded fans of all things princessy will enjoy the story and look forward to seeing where Abby and Jonah end up on their next trip through the mirror.

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