I went into this book expecting something rather different than what I encountered. It could be a good thing or a bad thing. Or it could be both. It was bad in this case but not because it wasn’t what I expected, but because it was not pull well together to make me believe Sirena’s, our protagonist, world. Even though this book was not what I expected it could have been great and I could have put down the book and sighed… well that was odd, but so good. That was not the case.
Sirena is a young girl in the midst of a bad break up between her parents. She had a lot on her plate and this was a perfect opportunity for Blumenthal to write a very compelling character for readers. Sirena was not compelling entirely. She was at the beginning. She was drowning in her own grievances about her parent’s break up – understandably so – and it didn’t come off as whiney. As soon as Pilot enters the picture, she becomes the girl I hate. The girl I wish would just die. The girl who makes me wish every damn girl in the world would just burn and die in agony a few hundred times over, who I wish for a fate worst than Hell. A girl who basically makes/reminds me of a certain “B” lettered girl (in both sense if you get my drift) in a certain glittery supernatural world. Sirena wallows in her self pity. She drowns herself – literally she tries to though the author makes it seems like she’s just challenging herself – to escape the pains of a guy not liking her and how crappy her life is. I’m sorry. I know countless young girls (and young men) who experienced and gone through bitter divorced parents and they are amazing. Their resolve is amazing. Their outlook for hope is astonishing. Sirena was not one of these kids. Yes, I know there are kids who are devastated by their parents’ divorce who turn to “bad” things and I wouldn’t mind that in this book. In fact, I didn’t mind the craziness in this book. I tolerated her angst because I sympathized with Sirena. I did up to the point until she decides to steal a picture from a gallery because of her unhealthy obsession. Until she began to make up excuses for herself for the theft to be okay. I was willing to put aside that bias but Sirena never redeems herself. There was not a moment of self realization… of, “I am better than this. I can get through this. I can do this. I am worth more than this.” Never. Not even once. Why should I feel sorry for her? Okay maybe she doesn’t want my pity, but why should I like her? I don’t and I won’t. Sure she went to the artist and confessed but the artist laughed it off. Convenient for Sirena. Almost believable on the artist’s part, which was a good thing I guess.
Throughout the book Sirena almost never attempts to do something worthwhile for herself of her own accord. She does things that she was directed to do by others (her aunt and by the author). I wanted to see the carefree Sirena at the beginning of the book who danced on the beach with her eyes closed throughout the book. I wanted to see glimpses of that version of her. I never did. Once the love interest,Pilot (yes that is his name), comes in she becomes an obessessed love-smitten idiot who only hates herself more because she doesn’t have the guy of her dream who can make her happy in the aftermath of an orgasm, who she can’t offer up her innocence in a tent (I didn’t make this up. Sirena does says this insane crap…. and it wouldn’t be so insane if she was likable or shattered by her parent’s divorce, but nope she’s was insane because suddenly a guy appears and never having said a word and only seeing him, she wants all these things).
There was one part of the novel that was likable, in the crap part of the story (after the first twenty or so pages – all parts after the first twenty pages are the toilet paper part of the story), was Sirena’s need to be near Cody, a child at the hospital her aunt made her volunteer at. Though the moments weren’t ever human enough to be touching, it was an attempt.
Another thing that bothered me about the book was its lack of details. I never get a good look at anyone in the book. The only person of any worth or value of description was … yes, Pilot. Boy do we get the dish load of details about him. He was the only person I could picture well. Everyone else were just blobs and blurs with no faces. I can hear them talk but not see them. The Aunt, Antonio, even Sirena herself. It seems Blumenthal forget that this story was about other people too and with Sirena’s obsession we only get a clear image of Pilot.
Setting details were okay. They were great but not bad. They did border on very good in instances, but Blumenthal relies on generics. Sirena goes to the beach. Everyone knows what a beach is, no need to describe it. Only it’s not true. There are different kinds of beaches. This beach was on Rhode Island whose average summer temperatures are in the low 70s. Yet, Sirena seems to be sweltering in heat on some days, which were over 90 degrees, but alas, I was willing to toss the detail off as it being a crazy summer of temperatures (barely able to).
Then there’s the paranormal. It comes out and punches you in the face, screaming, “You didn’t see that one coming!” There was no foreshadowing of the supernatural. It’s a hard thing to master: foreshadowing. Either your hints aren’t strong enough or they’re too strong. In this book’s case, not strong enough. There are mentions of ghosts, new age-like spiritualism, healers, to shamanism. All introduced much later in the story with no hints. When we do approach the subject, it’s done in passing conversation. The types of conversation you don’t take seriously, like small talk. Only later, as a reader you realize, “Oh, so that was real/serious?” The paranormal aspect was poorly incorporated.
Overall, if you like girls who mopes after a guy, who whines and demands attention but lack any self-confidence or will to fix her own outlook on life, who thinks she’s strong because she is saved by others and not by herself, who think the world revolves around her, this book is for you. In all seriousness, if this was solely a contemporary book, I think it would have been excellent. Or I would imagine it being so. I would have liked to see Sirena’s self discovery through her hard ships. It would have been an interesting read. But that was not how this book was written. We get a book that goes into too many directions, seemingly not knowing where to go and randomly striding places to fill pages to get to an end. The two aspects of Sirena’s life and the paranormal didn’t mesh well together.
Verdict: Skip. You want a book with a touch of magic and romance I got another recommendation.
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