By: Sarah Porter
Published by: Harcourt Children's Books
Page Count: 304
Page Count: 304
Release Date: July 2011
Source: Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult
Lost Voices is perhaps one of the darkest YA novels that I have read in some time. This shocked me for two major reasons. One, I don't typically think of mermaid stories as being dark and disturbing. I suppose I have been tainted in my thinking by Disney's version of the beauties with fins. Second, the main character, Luce, is only fourteen. While I realize that tragic circumstances befall people of all ages and do not take youth into consideration when doling out injustices, in YA literature I typically see older teens the ones that are experiencing dark circumstances. Lost Voices takes the time to consider to what happens to those children and teens who are unloved, unwanted, neglected, and abused. Their pain will ultimately drive them to turn their back on humanity and embrace a menace that lurks deep within their souls. However, some of them question this fate and strive to fight against the evil urges.
Overall, I think this book was incredibly creative. I found the route to becoming a finned one was inventive and something new. However, it did throw me that some of the myths about sirens were mashed into mermaid myths for this one. Again, I don't think authors have to stay true to old myths - what would the fun in that be? I just wasn't expecting that little twist. These mermaids enjoy luring ships to crash upon the rocks as they sing the passengers to their deaths. Fun, heartwarming stuff, right? You may have guessed by this point that Lost Voices is not exactly an uplifting kind of read.
I also only gave this book 3 birdies because I honestly didn't like many of the characters very much and the plot was somewhat predictable - mermaids decide which boat to sink, singing occurs, boat crashes, people die, girl drama, rinse and repeat. I kept reading hoping that something different would happen and I was rewarded, but only towards the end where some major plot twists rise to the surface; the author was no doubt planting seeds for the sequel. I would read the next one to find out what happens with those loose ends and because I do feel like this series has some potential.
I also loved the setting of this one - even though we don't get to see much of it because 90% of the book happens in the water or sea caves - Alaska. I honestly can't think of any other YA books that I have read that have been set there. Denali is briefly mentioned throughout the Twilight Saga, but it is not a main focus. Alaska is so wild and beautiful that I can imagine lots of supernatural beings living their in perfect contentment. I also liked the parallel of the chilly climate with the chill that takes over the body before the change occurs.
Interestingly enough, Lost Voices does break a trend that has been happening in the paranormal YA world at the moment. There was zero romance in the novel. There were a few moments of watching handsome human boys on boats, but nothing serious. I thought this would be a nice change of pace for me, but I have to admit I kind of miss that aspect. Again, this may have occurred because the main character was only fourteen and just becoming a mermaid was sure to keep her mind pretty occupied.
This book is like Peter Pan and a mermaid mesh up. Just like the Lost Boys, these mermaids band together in a tribe to survive against the ocean and its dangers. I have seen many reviewers draw this parallel, but it is an intriguing allusion to consider. A word of caution though, dear readers, be prepared to read about some pretty rough back stories for some of these girls; their pain and neglect is rough and gritty. The beginning of this book is not for the feint of heart as it deals with some pretty serious abuse issues. I would recommend reading this book if you are a fan of mermaid stories or YA lit, however, it is not one that I would say needs to be read right this second - save it for a rainy day. However, I might just have to pack some ear plugs for a cruise I am taking in the near future - just in case the tribe is lingering around those warm waters.
One Last Gripe: I was not okay with the way the larvae are treated. It broke my heart.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The interesting spin on mermaid lore
First Sentences: "Lucette? Did you hear the question?"
Favorite Character: I didn't have a favorite, but I suppose I liked Luce the best
Least Favorite Character: Anais - ugh
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.