Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Lost Voices

Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: July 4, 2011
Pages: 304
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: What happens to the girls nobody hears when they cry for help? Luce is one of those girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she 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. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to lure ships into the rocks.

Luce's own remarkable singing talent captures the attention of the tribe's queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce's struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina's leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce fins the challenge to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original take about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

LC's Take: 

OK, so.... This was one of those books that I had a difficult time reviewing, because there were things I both liked and disliked about it. Lost Voices was definitely a creative and captivating story with beautiful underwater worlds, but at the same time I became so incredibly annoyed and frustrated with the characters that it was slightly painful at times to get through.

I did like Luce, the main character. She was really sweet and someone who you could immediately sympathize with from the very beginning. I was so happy when she became a mermaid and was finally able to escape from her hellish life that consisted of being friendless and humiliated at school, and then abused and terrified at home with her alcoholic uncle. I really felt for this shy, scared, vulnerable girl, and felt almost triumphant when she transformed into a strong, new, beautiful being...

But then there were the other mermaids. I didn't like them at all. First there was Catarina, the queen of the mermaid tribe. At first I liked her because there was an air of mystery surrounding her-- she was complex, contradicting and definitely creepy all at the same time. But as the story progressed, I just started to get annoyed with her. First, she was the biggest hypocrite, and second, she was a complete failure as a leader-- all because of her blinding pride and vanity. I can understand that that was all part of her character and how her past life as a human had damaged her so badly, but how was she queen for so long when she was so easy to manipulate? Why did she just let the other mermaids go and do whatever they wanted, endangering their very existence? Just because of her petty jealousy of Luce?

And then there were the 14 mermaids that Luce saved. When they were still human, I liked them and felt sorry for them. But after they turned into mermaids, they became so incredibly dumb, vindictive and selfish that it was a wonder the tribe lasted for as long as it did. Everyone was just so gullible, blinded, stubborn and back-stabbing that at times it was hard to keep reading without wanting to knock some sense into them!  I seriously couldn't even believe how dense everyone was-- yes, it forwarded the plot and created conflict, but it also made me want to bang my head against the wall in total frustration. At times I even got annoyed with Luce for not having more backbone to stand up for herself and tell everyone off before things got completely out of control. During the scene where Luce saves all of them, I just wanted her to shout at Jenna and Dana, "Stop being so slow! You're mermaids!! Now get your arses back to safety before you become tasty whale snacks!" Jenna managed to become even more exasperatingly dumb, and then turned extremely mean and condescending to Luce after Luce had saved her life. Could not stand Jenna.

And speaking of characters I couldn't stand, let's talk about Anais for a moment. Seriously, I just wanted to fin-slap this girl into next week, she was that horrible and annoying. She wouldn't stop bragging about her designer jeans or her birthday parties or her Manolo freaking Blahniks-- which she humorously wore on her head because she didn't have feet anymore once she turned into a mermaid! Then she pretty much single-handedly turned every TSTL (To Stupid To Live) mermaid against Luce with lies and empty arguments and got away with murder-- literally. Seriously, if it was this easy for one bratty mermaid to poison the whole tribe, why hadn't it happened long before? And why did Luce think she was the one who had ruined everything when it was obviously not her fault?? Argh!! Somebody help me out here!

I get that these mermaids were the products of human cruelty-- that they became mermaids at the very darkest moment of their lives, after being abandoned, abused or otherwise forgotten. Therefore, the way they think and behave is a reflection of all the painful memories and emotions stored inside them. I guess I just wish that their characters were portrayed with a little more optimism, instead of coming across as so dismal and hopeless. Honestly, I wanted to like Catarina, and I wanted to find something redeeming in Anias-- but in the end, they were both disappointingly one-sided.

The ending was also extremely abrupt-- it was one of those endings where you're on the second to last page and wondering how on earth the whole thing is going to wrap up in a couple paragraphs. I had thought that this was a stand-alone book-- but lo-and-behold-- Lost Voices is the first in a trilogy! The next book is Waking Storms, and it is set to be released in July 2012. The third book will be called The Twice Lost, and is still in the process of being written. I will be looking out for both of these, in the hopes that the characters will mature somewhat-- which I know is asking a lot considering that Luce is only 14, but I do hope she learns to become more confident, assertive, and strong-minded.

*** One last thing: I do think that the cover for this book is beautiful, but I wish, wish, wish that the mermaid shown wasn't so stereotypical with her long, wavy, blond hair and pale skin-- this is not Luce! In the book, Luce has a dark, short pixie-cut and olive-toned skin-- even as a mermaid. I thought that this was so refreshingly original, to have her be different! Why didn't the cover portray this individuality?? I really wish it did!

All in all, I would recommend this book because the story was original and the characters were memorable, even if they did get on my nerves. There was, in the end, a reason behind their actions and the plot made sense. Also, Sarah Porter is truly an amazing storyteller, able to put you right in the middle of the action and paint watery worlds with lyrical descriptions. Even though there was no cheerful, optimistic ending with strings neatly tied, this book does set you up for the rest of Luce's story, and leaves you wondering what will happen next!

LC's Rating:
I liked this book for the most part, and Luce the main character was easy to love and sympathize with. However, the other characters were so aggravating that it was difficult to really care about what happened to them after awhile. The ending definitely left me wondering what's going to happen in the next book, and I will be on the look-out for the continuation of Luce's story...



  1. Insanely awesome review, Lea! You never disappoint me! It seems that your reviews are getting longer and better! How do you do this, girl?! I'm so impressed!
    This book sounded so good when i read the synopsis but after reading your review I am not so sure anymore if i will pick up a copy anytime soon. Way too many gorgeous books I have to read first :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. This is one of those books that you'll either love or hate. I totally see your point with the characters. Catarina and Anais were rotten, and some of the other mermaids reminded me of groupies. When the one mermaid died, I couldn't help but think of Piggy! I still adored this book. I think the second book will be better.

  3. Evie~ Awww thanks girl, you're making me blush! ;) It's not that it was bad necessarily, I just personally didn't like most of the characters. Luce was great though :)

    Flashlight Reader~ You know, I was totally thinking about your LOTF comment as I was reading this, and I definitely saw the connections! Can't wait to read the second one and see if Luce gets back at Anais!!


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