Monday, August 22, 2011

Lost Voices

Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 2011)

When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

Let me say right away, I did not finish this book. I have no idea how it ends nor do I really care to. But, I feel that I listened to enough of it to form an opinion and therefore give a partial review. I have read a lot of reviews on this book and most people seemed to like it. I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.

What I liked: The writing style and the concept. I thought the author's writing style was great and beautifully descriptive. It just wasn't enough to sustain the story for me. I also liked the concept of lost souls turning into mermaids. I just didn't like the kind of mermaids they turn into. I have always thought of them as "Ariel" types who help lost sailors find their way home. In Lost Voices, mermaids are more like sirens luring sailors to their death using their voices.

Why I stopped reading: Luce is a 14YO who has no parents, no friends, and is abused by her uncle. After he almost rapes her, she falls off a cliff and decides death is better. She is then turned into a mermaid. It turns out that this is how mermaids come into being. Abused girls who die turn into mermaids. OK, I can stretch my imagination to believe that works. What I found disturbing is the mermaids range in age from 5-17. I could not make myself believe that 5 year old abused child would become a vicious, revenge-seeking mermaid who lures people, even children, to their deaths. That just seemed wrong to me and was something I couldn't get past.

There were also too many contradictions in the story. For example, the mermaids live by a code that says they cannot physically harm another mermaid and that they must help one in distress. However, this apparently does not extend to what they call "larvae". Larvae are apparently toddlers who have turned into mermaids, but aren't fully developed. Instead of helping them and taking care of them, they allow them to flounder and die in the ocean. (There is one gross scene where they are eaten by an orca.) Also, they have no sympathy to any children who may drown on one of the downed ships because they will only turn into adults who abuse. I finally had to turn it off after the other mermaids keep being mean to Luce when she makes a mistake, yet they don't take the time to explain everything being a mermaid entails. She says she has found a home, but they are all so mean to her that I can't see why she would want to live with them at all. It seems she has traded one lonely abusive life for another.

I could go on with other things that didn't appeal to me, but I think I have presented enough to show you why I couldn't finish it. This is supposed to be a YA novel and I would recommend that parents limit it to older YAs. Personally, I thought the content was a bit mature and violent for under 16. But, I always say, ' To each his own!" Read it and judge for yourself.


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