Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Release date: July 4, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?
Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.

A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.

Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again? 

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.
I don't really know how to write this review... It's almost unheard of for a book to affect me in the way that Lost Voices did, but not in a good way. As I sat in my calm, peaceful dorm room and read this I got more and more angry. If the girls in this book had been real, something bad would have gone down. Luce was the only consistently non-infuriating character, but she couldn't make up for the others.

I first have to point out that the imagery in this book is lovely. Sarah Porter paints some very lovely settings for her mermaids. The shining tails that complement each mermaid perfectly and the hidden coves are certainly nice to think about, but there has to be more than nice writing to make a good book.

The whole idea behind how mermaids come about is a fascinating idea, and connects really well to why mermaids/sirens would lure ships to their doom. At the same time, the mermaids hate of humans makes them vindictive and angry all the time. They feel the lure of the song and killing and that's all they want to do. It's hard to connect with characters that are moody and angry and just want to kill all the time. And once Anais comes into the picture they're vain and materialistic and downright hateful. They embrace all of the detestable qualities of humans without taking on any of our good qualities. They don't feel love or a sense of family; they simply bond over their hate of others.

And while Luce is the only good character in the bunch, she doesn't have much of a backbone. Yes, she's the most human of the group, because she feels remorse and sympathy for the innocent, but she can't seem to stand up for herself or what's right. She just hides in her cave until it's absolutely necessary that she does something. I do not know how she could put up with the crap she's put through... There'd be some dead mermaids if it were me. :)

I also found the plot to be lacking. For most of the novel, everybody is just hanging around being mermaids. There's a lot of Luce sitting about worrying, but not doing much of anything. What happened in the book was interesting, but I thought there was a lot of filler.

After I've slightly ranted about this, I will be reading the sequel. This is because (A) Sarah Porter's writing and idea have a lot of potential and I'm hoping there will be improvement in character development and plot, and (B) the sequel, Waking Storms, looks downright intriguing.

So, should you risk a paper cut? If you have a strong tolerance for mean girls, you'll find the mermaid mythology and events interesting. Just be prepared for your reaction to reach for a knife and cut someone at certain parts. (Or, hey! Use the book!)

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