In Just for Fins, Lily is finally Princess of Thalassinia, and her boyfriend Quince finally has the ability to breathe underwater. Things should be perfect, but of course they're not. First, there's that mer-bond (in name only) and promise Lily's made to her friend Tellin, whose kingdom is being destroyed by changing ocean temperatures. And it's not just Tellin's kingdom at risk, all over the globe mer people are suffering, and Lily knows she'll have to bring them together if she has any hope of making things right. Then, if that wasn't enough, it turns out there's actually some ancient law that might keep Lily and Quince apart after all! It will take everything Lily has, along with help from all of her friends– and maybe a few new ones– in order to make things work but Lily has no intention of going down without a fight.
I really, really loved Quince when he was first introduced. But for some reason, he just didn't really capture my heart in this novel. I think it may have been his minimal page time, because when he was there he was mostly just confessing his love for Lily or making out with her. And the whole future together forever after only dating for a few weeks seemed really rushed, especially without much of a reminder of what they love about each other in the first place. Mostly though, Quince just didn't have the snark of the first book, and that was what I loved about him so much. In Just for Fins, the romance is mostly an afterthought, and it seems like every hurdle possible was being thrown at Quince and Lily. I get that the series isn't over and it's not time for them to swim off into the sunset yet, but I wanted a conflict that was more internal and had more to do with Quince and Lily themselves and less to to do with yet another unheard of ancient law. What I did appreciate was that there was even a joke in the novel about how this keeps happening; and I can only hope that means that it won't again if there's a book four.
In addition to Quince, I just didn't feel so strongly about the supporting characters in Just for Fins either. They felt pretty flat to me, and those that did change from previous books seemed to do so too easily. There were a few instances of bad characters becoming good, which is great, but their change didn't feel realistic, it just seemed sudden. And even though they were suddenly helping Lily instead of working against her, didn't give them extra depth or layers which is what I wanted. Another minor complaint was the way Lily treated college, like of course she didn't need it because she was going to be a mer princess and they didn't teach mer politics. But obviously the marine biology she was originally interested in would still have been helpful to know about. Also, when it came to Quince she said he already had a job lined up in construction. Which is great, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have gone to trade school or gotten an apprenticeship or something. For such a big life changing decision, it really felt brushed off.
Surprising to me was the fact that the major storyline, about Lily trying to get the mer kingdoms to work together, was definitely the component I enjoyed most in Just for Fins, because going into the novel all I wanted to read about was Quince. But I liked the sweet message of harmony behind Lily's quest, and I thought it would be really wonderful for younger readers especially. It also gave Lily a chance to be a strong leader, but at the same time it showed how much she needed support in order to accomplish her mission. I loved that she couldn't have accomplished what she did on her own, because even though this is a book about mermaids, it made it feel true-to-life. It also showed how much Lily has grown up, even though this series takes place over a matter of weeks.
This Fins series by Tera Lynn Childs are definitely my favourite cute mermaid books, but I admit that some of the charm is starting to wear off and I'm afraid that additional novels will only decrease the sparkle for me. That said, I really love Lily, and I absolutely adore Childs' writing (especially the puns), so that I have a hard time claiming I wouldn't pick up another book. I probably would. I enjoyed the main storyline of Just for Fins and thought it showed a lot of growth for the character and the series, but the book just didn't awe me in the same way the first one did, and even though it ends on a good note it definitely leaves the possibility open for further novels– I'm just conflicted over if I want any more. I think I'll be picking up a different Childs' series next instead.