Laura's Reviews > The Siren

The Siren by Kiera Cass
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's review
Feb 17, 10

bookshelves: sf-f, ya, bookclub
Read in February, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This book was a struggle to get through. I liked the set up and the world. I liked the old, universal idea that sacrifice is needed for life to flourish, in this case the ocean had to devour humans in order to sustain life. Thus sirens were needed to cause sailing accidents with their singing. These sirens are not winged creatures or mermaids, but young ladies who the ocean spared from drowning and gave immortal bodies for 100 years. Once their 100 years was over, they'd lose their memory of being a siren and be released to have a second chance as a mortal.

The ocean is in fact the thing that kept me reading. I'll probably not be able to get myself to read the last 20 pages because the ocean won't be in it and I know everything will end happily ever after.

This is a YA romance, which means it's not my cup of tea to begin with. The main character is a beautiful Mary Sue who everyone loves and she gets threatened with rape so her true love can save her. Pretty standard fare there. She, of course, falls in love with a mortal while she's a siren, which is strictly FORBIDDEN. The reason is that if any mortal hears her voice, they will suddenly want to drown themselves. She can't talk, laugh, cry, yelp in surprise, or vocalize anything while around humans. That makes for some interesting obstacles on the way to true love, but they're overcome rather easily.

The Mary Sue main character isn't the worst of the book. She's actually not the worst Canon Sue I've read and can be proactive and take initiative. But like most Mary Sues, this thing is written in the first person, which detracts greatly from the book. It's not written as a memoir, Mary Sue has nothing worth saying and no interesting outlook on anything. We're treated to pages and pages of her internal workings and nothing interesting comes from it because she's just not interesting.

When something is written in first person, you're reading it because the character at some point sat down and wrote it out for you to read. That's why first person books are best written as memoirs like 'Odd Thomas' by Dean Koontz, chronicles of exploits like the Jeeves and Wooster stories by PG Wodehouse or Monk series of books by Lee Golberg, or as a series of letters or journals like 'Dracula' by Stoker or 'The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' by Shaffer and Barrows.

So since the character is writing the book, they can't talk about anything they don't know, didn't care enough about to notice, or FORGOT. This book did a pretty good job with those rules until the end, when Mary Sue forgot the whole damn book. Then the first person POV changed to her true love for the last 20 pages, which is distracting, poorly executed, and the reader misses out on the only time it might be interesting to be in the Mary Sue's head.

I really hate and am disturbed by how much I see YA romances talking of suicide. I haven't read many, but are they all like that? I know the suicidal Twilight book was Smeyer paying homage to the great romance 'Romeo and Juliet,' which isn't a romance at all. It's warning that young people shouldn't go around thinking they're in love because they're too stupid and inexperienced to know what love is and will do some damn fool thing like off themselves (or more realistically, get knocked up, drop out of school, and spend the rest of their lives in poverty). I hope the talk of suicide in this book is the result of some temporary depression or something. I still find it disturbing.

There is one fantasy romance in a YA series that I like. It's Lena and Patton in the Fablehaven series. They're not the focus of the series but a side plot for the first couple of books. Patton convinced Lena to give up her immortality to marry him, but she ended up aging much more slowly than him so only a little bit of her long life was spent with him. She traveled after he died and experienced things and lived. Her best years were spent with her husband, but she still found things to live for. She hated aging and feeling her body die around her, but she didn't regret her sacrifice in order to have been married to the man she loved. That's what love is. You sacrifice for your lover, but they aren't the whole of your existence.

A good thing about The Siren is the obligatory bitch who hates the Mary Sue ends up being an important and somewhat rounded character. I liked her.

And I didn't use any names in this write up because I don't know where the book is and the names are too unusual to remember/spell. Another Mary Sue symptom.
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Sara Yes! You nailed exactly what I felt. I totally forgot about the pointless attempted rape. It was so out of place and shocking for a book for such an immature target audience. I read for the Ocean too… other than that, I felt that the book suffered from Twilight syndrome.

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