Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost VoicesLost Voices by Sarah Porter

Release Date:
July 4, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley - ARC from publisher
Interest: Debut Author
Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?
Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost 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 drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.
Luce’s own talent at singing 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 find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?
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. (from Goodreads)
I really wasn't sure what to expect when reading this book, but it quickly proved to be very dark as quite a lot of horrible things have happened to the girls and much of it is just unspeakable. No wonder the poor things let the darkness overtake them and bring them to this place. I found it interesting that you could only learn what happened to a girl in her human life by catching glimpses of it when you looked at her a certain way and that it was rude to just ask what happened. Instead of dying these girls give in to the pain and despair and somehow magically turn into stunning sirens with opalescent tails, super strength, gorgeous faces and absolutely angelic voices. I keep picturing Luce as looking a lot like Alice Cullen (from Twilight), but with a pretty, sparkly tail and she kills with her voice instead of pointy fangs.

The interesting thing is that these girls are destructive to humans - they use their voices to take down ships because they cannot stand humans any longer - all because of what their loved ones did to them when they once were human too. They take their revenge on innocent people and get a high from the singing that causes the humans to want to die. The sing so beautifully that people seriously throw themselves overboard to get closer to the music and the angelic girls that hold these voices. 

Luce, however, is different. She thinks it's horrific to murder, even if the signing brings her the most amazing feelings. She doesn't want to kill and she doesn't want to forget the humans who did love her and treated her well. She wants to fit in and have friends, but doesn't want to have to use her voice for evil to achieve that goal. Luce tries to figure out a way to use her voice for something other than murder, but seems to be losing friends along the way. 

There is a scene that upset me incredibly - with the larvae - baby mermaids that are so small they cannot swim well or defend themselves. The mermaid code of conduct pretty much stops the girls from killing the little baby mermaids (even though they find them utterly annoying), but the girls just pay no attention to the little ones. Luce doesn't understand why they don't help them and she makes an attempt to save one when some Orcas come hunting for food. It saddened me to see that there are no further attempts to deal with the little larvae other than to mock them later on. I think this issue could have been dealt with differently. It was sad to realize that yes even little babies and toddlers are treated so cruelly that they would rather give in to the despair and silently cease to exist in the human world.

Events unfold that lead to a newcomer pushing the boundaries of the mermaid code. All she leaves in her wake is jealousy, anger, resentment and frustration. She reminds me a bit of a bitchy, snobby version of Ariel (The Little Mermaid) because she wants to keep trinkets and clothes from the ships they take down - which lead the girls to get possessive and jealous of each other. Bullying seems to be the top theme for a few of the mermaids - which may just be because they are jealous of what others have (like angelic voices). Luce desperately attempts to change things, but seems to be a little too late to fix what is happening in the group dynamic.

The story just seems to end and I didn't feel like it resolved anything. I am unsure if this was left this way for there to be another book or for us to imagine what we think happened in the end, but I really felt like there should have been a bit more of a conclusion. It's just kind of hanging there. 

I loved the concept of the book and how the girls became mermaids. I loved Luce's fear of being a murderer and that she really wanted to find a better way to use her voice. I just didn't feel like the ending did the book justice. The cover is also stunning and it is what really drew me to it in the first place, so maybe I was expecting something lighter?

I would suggest that this book be left to the older ages of the YA group due to the subject matter.


  1. hi! new GFC follower! love the blog and i'm excited to read more of it! =] love this book cover and can't wait to read the book!

    follow me?!

  2. I was lucky enough to read this a few months ago and I still think that it’s one of the better 2011 debuts that I’ve read this year thus far. There’s just something about this that’s so different even though there are thousands of mermaid stories out there.
    I have to agree with you, though, that this isn’t fit for a younger YA audience. I know that even at times I found myself cringing and I’m in my twenties.
    Great review and happy reading.


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