26 January 2011
Review: Lost Voices
Lucette is fourteen, stuck in a remote Alaskan town with her uncle after her mother's death and her father's disappearance off a fishing vessel, slowly falling into despair and isolation. When she is attacked by her uncle and tumbles off the cliffs to meet death, Luce instead becomes a mermaid and is brought into a tribe of other lost girls-turned-mermaids like her. Finding beauty, long life and friendships within her new tribe, Luce soon discovers that she possesses the power - and the desire - to sing humans to their deaths. As Luce's singing talent makes her both a boon to her tribe - and a burden to her new friend and queen, Caterina - new mermaids join and cause all to question their rules and feelings. Torn between her new life and friends and her struggle to retain some hold on humanity, will Luce have to choose between being true to herself, or to her tribe?
Sarah Porter brings mermaids out of fairytale and folklore and melds it with cold Alaskan seas and hard topics. I actually started this book almost two months ago, as soon as I acquired it, because it sounded hauntingly beautiful. However, I struggled with the first couple of chapters and I didn't resume until after the New Year. The books starts slow and sad, and even as the plot picks up speed, the depressive overtones remain with no real signs of a happy ending.
The sadness that comes from Luce through the entire book is charged with loss and isolation. She was an outcast at school, an orphan, and living with an uncle who was abusive in so many ways. While becoming a mermaid seemed to be a joyous escape from a life of pain, Luce realizes that it comes with a cost. With her tribe, humanity is to be scorned, and none deserve to live.
There is a lot of "typical teen storyline" in here: Luce is determined to make her tribe the family and friends she didn't have before, especially with Caterina, the queen. Her struggle to stay part of the group causes Luce to be untrue to her own views about not wanting to kill, to not be honest about what some of the other mermaids do, and hide her own emotions about still caring for her father and not leaving her whole human past behind. There are definite mean girls and followers; Luce flips in between her desire to have friends and her "human" conscience. Of course, as she continues to isolate herself in pursuit of control over her voice, Luce fails to see threats to the tribe from within until it is almost too late.
Porter's debut novel is full of beautiful imagery and dark ideas. She is able to convey teen issues of bullying, friendship and abuse in compelling and unique way. While there are definite questions left at the end of the book, Lost Voices is the first of a planned trilogy that will no doubt provide answers.
Title: Lost Voices (Lost Voices, #1)
Author: Sarah Porter
Date: July 2011
Read: NetGalley eBook