Review: Lost Voices

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Lost VoicesLost Voices by Sarah Porter
Series: Lost Voices #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on July 4, 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 291
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
two-stars

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead 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. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

The first book in a trilogy, 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.

Lost Voices reminds me a bit of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, only with a crazy paranormal bent and less focus. The story never really seemed quite to resolve into a plot. I suspect this may mean there is a sequel in the works, which would explain why so many things were brought up and then dropped by the seaside.

Porter’s explanation of how mermaids come about and why they sink ships was certainly an intriguing one. Abused girls turn into mermaids and then punish the humans who did such awful things to them. To do this, they are gifted with otherworldly voices and beauty, which lure the humans to their deaths.

If this book had been a bit different, I think I might have liked it. The writing was pretty good and, even though I was not particularly into the story, it still moves along at a nice pace. However, the story focused primarily on the weird mermaid society, on their codes and how all of them secretly break them. Basically, it showed how terrifying a sisterhood is and how much fun it is to sing. I would have preferred a Speak-like focus on issues of child abuse or a fantasy romance that considered the possibility of the existence of mermen or an ethical tale that really evaluated their life choices. Lost Voices touches on all of these, but does not really go into any sort of satisfying detail.

The book is odd too, in that it would seem to attract a younger crowd, given the age of the heroine and the almost complete lack of romance. Yet, the issues and the tone of desolation would seem to suggest it is for older readers. Lost Voices is about as happy and sweet as the killer unicorn books by Diana Peterfreund, only not, for me, as good.

To sum up, I didn’t hate this, nor did I like it particularly. It raises some interesting issues and I certainly recommend it to those who like YA paranormal, but are sick of the romances.

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