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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"The Siren" by Kiera Cass (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

FORMAT: The Siren is a standalone YA fantasy romance that stands at 327 pages. It was previously self-published in 2009. HarperTeen picked it up for a rewrite/rerelease. It was published by HarperTeen on January 26, 2016.

ANALYSIS: The Siren is one of those books that I feel conflicted about when it comes time to review. There were good things about the book – fast pace, an interesting concept, and a fairly interesting character (The Ocean) – but there were so many things that just didn't work for me – insta-love, lack of character development, mopey teenagers – that I walked away feeling disappointed. This book could have been so much more than what it was.

In the acknowledgements of the book, Kiera Cass makes a pretty bold statement that 90% of her readership is teenage females. It is very clear that The Siren was written to cater in every way, shape and form to this audience. The characters for the most part are surprisingly one dimensional, the plot is pushed to the back in place of longing/pining for a man the girl hardly met/interacted with, and there feels as if there isn't really any substance to the book.

That is with the exception of The Ocean (a character in the book with feelings and a personality). The Ocean was the best part of the novel by far.

The way it is written isn't a bad thing, if that is the type of book you are looking for, but I feel as if the majority of the readers – even those that are within the 90% teenage female group – will want a little bit more.

I will start with the insta-love. The novel is a standalone that comes in at 327 pages. So, I understand that readers aren't going to have a whole lot of time to see the romance blossom and bloom, but that doesn't mean a romance has to instantly happen and the characters become soulmates forever.

Kahlen meets Akinli in a school library. They have a very brief interaction that totals maybe 5 minutes. This is followed by another short encounter in the school quad a few days later and a date that lasted maximum of an hour. After all this, Kahlen is madly in love with Akinli. This might work if the two characters interacted more with each other afterwards, but they don't for almost the entire half of the book.

After their first date, Kahlen runs away from Akinli and moves to another part of the country because their romance cannot happen. The chapters after this are filled with Kahlen wondering 'what if', 'why this', and creating this entire fantasy in her head until she is convinced she would have married Akinli and rode off into the sunset. It just wasn't believable, especially when Kahlen is an 18-year old siren who has lived for 80 years.

The instant attraction between the two mixed with their lack of any interactions – there is another date later in the book before the ending made it extremely difficult for me to buy into this romance. I can suspend reality a little bit, but this just seemed too unbelievable for me. Unfortunately, as a result the novel felt flat and the plot/romance felt forced. I felt no emotions for the couple which made the ending difficult to believe.

Another aspect of the novel which didn't really work for me was the character development. All of the characters, which the exception of The Ocean, felt one dimensional. Kahlen was this sulky, sullen character who didn't like to hang out, didn't like to do anything. Pretty much, she sat around moping about her situation in life and then playing a fantasy in her head about a guy.

And her friends were no better. Her friends lacked empathy for anyone but themselves. Forced people to engage in activities they were uncomfortable with and looked down on anyone who was different or didn't do things (casual one night stands, underage drinking) that they would consider normal.

There is one thing that nagged at the back of my mind while reading the book. Where did the girls get the money they used to move around? They moved around and lived in vacation homes on the beach (with convenient beach access). One of the characters sold paintings, but that didn't account for how they could just toss cash around and move to Italy, Miami, and other beachfront areas.

There is one redeeming quality to the book – The Ocean. I loved this aspect of the novel. The Ocean at first was a little confusing. I wasn't sure what to make of her, as she had her own thoughts and feelings and personality. As the story unfolded, I really came to like The Ocean even though she wasn't a very likeable character. She was possessive and mean at times. If it hadn't been for The Ocean, I would have abandoned the book. It really gives it a nice twist and makes the story somewhat bearable.  

Do you walk away feeling satisfied at the end of the novel? Yes and no. Everything is wrapped up nicely and complete, but there is an overwhelming sense of emptiness and disappointment. It is almost like you wanted more, but didn't get it.

I, personally, feel The Siren felt like it had potential, but the need to make it standalone was its downfall. There were so many things that could have happened or aspects that could have developed, but weren't.

The Siren is a mix of The Little Mermaid and some mega teen drama complete with insta-love galore and major pouting/sulking. For the right reader – one who can overlook major plot issues and who doesn't really want a whole lot of depth to their story – this is a good book. Unfortunately, for the average reader this may leave them feeling a bit disappointed.


Unknown said...

Another wonderful book. Kiera Cass takes us by the hand and leads us through an amazing story.

Cindy said...

Glad you enjoyed it. It was by far not her strongest book, which made it extremely disappointing.

Unknown said...

I liked the book, but the only reason why it was believable for was because I kept telling myself they were soul mates after basically rereading it.


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