April 27th, 2013
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
I haven't read many mermaid or sea creature books, but I've been desperately trying to get into more. Since I was a kid, I've always loved Disney's "The Little Mermaid", and while I know the movie is greatly exaggerated from the literature it spanned from, I can never recall a time I haven't been a fan of mermaids. This isn't my first mermaid book(actually it's my second) but this one was much different from one I've read in the past. It features mermaids that are a bit more like "sirens", or beautiful creatures who generally lead sailors to their deaths by song. If I'm not mistaken, quite a few sea creatures are more like this, in comparison their the "Disney" version, so it was my first look into mermaids as antagonists.
There were a few things I liked in this book, but there were also a few things I wasn't crazy about or were confused about. It was a short read, and a great attempt at showcasing something other than vampires, werewolves and angels/demons, which our young adult audience has become so accustom to.
Things I liked:
THE DIVERSITY. The diversity, diversity, diversity. I went into this book automatically assuming because it's from a white author, her main character was going to be without a question, white. I'm ok with that. I wouldn't have read it if I didn't think I'd like it, so my basis for reading it had nothing to do with race. I just wanted to see mermaids.I'd read that the main character Lucette, or Luce, recently moved to Alaska. I assumed that aside from maybe a girl of Inuit descent, I would see next to no other forms of multiculturalism. Little did I know, that by the time the main character Luce, would become a mermaid, she'd not only encounter a girl whom is Inuit in her tribe, her tribe's queen was originally from Russia, and in the midst of the growing tribe, they'd gain two biracial twins. Even a few boys they killed weren't all just white.
The twins were orphans, and their mother was from India, and their father was African American, so they were described as dark skinned. This may mean nothing to the average reader, but I'm not only a twin, Im a multicultural person. Im also darker toned, so I literally could imagine myself in this book, and unfortunately this is rare for me. Im sure to some people, my issues with creating biracial characters may make me seem hypocritical, but this is why it didn't bother me that they were mixed race. BECAUSE THEY SHOWCASED A DIFFERENT SIDE OF BEING MIXED RACE.
People always assume that with being mixed race or multicultural, that you receive what's known as "A Beautiful Color." It makes me assume that anything that is much darker or much paler, does not fall into this category. Sure, a lot of biracial people or multicultural people are in-between complexions, but the media does little to showcase the people how are not in-between complexions. Not everyone mixed race is golden, or tan, or bronze, or caramel. If I had to give this author a thumbs up, it'd mostly be on the diversity.
While I found this annoying, a lot of the mermaids had a bunch of the same mannerisms they would have had human. There is a reason why I place this in the good as opposed to the bad. A bunch of novels portray girls who were born human, then change into something not human or find out they weren't born human, and their whole mannerisms change. As much as I hate to say it, girls are competitive, and if anything more so than our male counterpart. It would seem unrealistic to me, to make every single girl so mature, especially when they're most likely trapped inside their young bodies forever. It made for annoying conflict, but it was still interesting enough conflict.
I also liked that mermaids created communities. They were brought to the water by traumatic events, and had to cope to get past their horrible pasts. Take away the mermaid aspect, and this could have still been a book about a girl fitting into a new niche at school. They had a culture, their own laws, and their own figures of authority(Queens. Typically the best singers).I will even say that despite hating that they enjoyed singing sailors to their deaths, I rather enjoyed characters who were more antagonistic. They had their own reasons for hating humans, and I constantly hated them for wanting to kill people, but always rooted for them to come out unscathed if they ever were to put themselves in harm's way. I really did feel sorry for them(some of the time =D)
The things I didn't like:
Now for the bad. It had pacing issues. Even though something appeared to always be going on, it seemed like unnecessary events to otherwise create conflict where there was none. Often events that seemed important, were often written of and were not explained. It kind of made me wonder why some events were even written or brought up.
Too many characters. While I enjoyed the diversity, it seemed as though after the first 100 pages, a new set of characters were introduced every chapter. I mean literally EVERY chapter, or every other chapter. It made it difficult to connect with every single one, and hard to remember ones who didn't speak much, but had dialogue. I dealt with Luce being turned. I dealt with 14 other girls getting tunred after her. Then there were about 3 more introduced by the last 100 pages, and it just seemed like too much information crammed into the last few chapters. I don't like new information, as I'd prefer to gain a detail in the beginning I didn't at the time understand, and let it tie to the end. But having too many characters ruined that for me.
The singing aspect. It was a bit confusing, and I won't go into detail, but since the mermaids sang certain emotions, and moments of their own pain, it was unique but rather confusing.
The Queen Catarina and Anais. These were two characters that were difficult to read. The Queen I give a pass to. She is originally from Russia, so it could easily be her mannerism to be so hard to read to someone born to the United States. But Anais, was antagonistic, but I just didn't know what her deal was. She was introduced far too late for me to care about her, and wasn't the least bit redeeming.
The ending was a little boring. Makes it hard to assume a trilogy will come from it.
To be honest, a character that was introduced toward the end could've been a game changer, but the author just didn't capitalize on it.
Overall I enjoyed the book. I would give it a 3.5, and the concept was interesting enough for me to want to continue on to the next book, despite the ending.
My dreamcasting was a little biased! Black twins? Dana and Jenna I totally pictured me and Libby!
Who else you ask? Ksenia Solo was my Luce.
Actress Ashley Bell was my Katerina. And Anais for some reason looked like Blake Lively in my head.