25 junho 2011

Review: Lost Voices

Publisher:  Harcourt Children's Books (2011)
Format:  Hardcover | 291 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Description (Goodreads): "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."
WARNING: Contains some Spoilers!
Mermaids are not natural beings. They are made when girls are mistreated or abused; these same girls are reborn as mermaids with powerful tails and otherworldly voices. With their new power and full of resentment and anger towards the humans who made them miserable, the mermaids lure ships to their destruction and the passengers to their deaths.

After almost being abused by her drunk uncle, Luce, a 14-year-old girl living in Alaska feels herself slip away and when she wakes up, she is changed. Will Luce adapt to her new life as a mermaid? Will she finally have the good life she always craved?

Here's another book about which I have mixed feelings. I liked the concept a lot. The portrayal of mermaids as cruel, vindictive beings born from the cruelty of humans appealed to me. They were given enough power to exact revenge and were even compelled to use it, but in the end it was their choice. These mermaids felt 'real' to me. Like the vain, unfeeling and capricious creatures they are supposed to be (according to some mythology). I think the author really researched mermaids and used bits and pieces of folklore to construct her world. I loved that, her world-building.

The rest... not so much. First the age of most mermaids, especially the protagonist bothered me. Not that it bothers me to read about teenagers or anything; but the author created this obscure world and these terrible but beautiful creatures (lol) and then they are all tweens. So basically they just snipe at each other and are mean and... that's about as 'dark' as they get. If the mermaids were a little older it would have been more interesting as their actions would still be teen-ish but a bit more mature.

Then there was the story. I guess the author intended it to be a sort-of self-discovery journey for Luce, the main character but it just wasn't developed properly. Most of the book is just about how the mermaids treat each other, as if we're reading about some teen school drama. Luce's thoughts and actions very seldom make sense and I didn't feel like she grew that much during the book (I mean she didn't learn any valuable lesson or had a deep soul-search or anything. She ended up the same way she started). For a book that opened with such serious themes as child abuse it got shallow pretty quickly. I thought the author could have done much more with the plot.

As for the characters... well, like I said, I thought them too young. And most of them lacked any personality whatsoever and weren't that interesting. Anais, the element of discord introduced halfway through the book was probably one of the more intriguing; we really want to know why she became a mermaid, but it's never explained properly.

Overall: "Lost Voices" is an impressive book in terms of world building and it presents a different (and interesting) view on mermaids, but it lacks focus. It could have been a great novel with some real impact if the author pursued the themes introduced at the beginning of the book and developed her characters. As it was, the plot was shallow and was more about girls being their mean teen selfs (imagine "Mean Girls" with tails and fins) than anything else.

5 comentários:

p7 disse...

It looks like one of those books where one loves the worldbuilding, but the character development sucks. The premise is quite interesting, though - I don't care much for mermaids, but I might read this one. ;)

jen7waters disse...

Mean Mermaids!

slayra disse...

p7: the premise is great! If only the author had done more with it. I hope you like it, if you decide to read it. ^__^

Jen: Yep, definitely not your fluffy, Ariel-type mermaids. :D

Ana C. Nunes disse...

O livro parece medianamente bom, embora estranhamente não me tenha chamado a atenção até ler a tua opinião.
Gosto do conceito, especialmente se for interessante como dizes, mas realmente tenho pouca paciência para dramas juvenis.
Mmmh ... não sei bem se será o tipo de leitura que gostarei, embora adore o tema das sereias.

Laura disse...

O conceito parece interessante, mas esse... "imagine 'Mean Girls with tails and fins" fez-me pensar logo num título dum filme tipo "Mean Mermaides: The Underwater Remake" ou algo do género. LOL não sei se me atrevo.