Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ARC Review: LOST VOICES

The Book: LOST VOICES
The Author: Sarah Porter
The Publisher: Harcourt Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Release Date: July 4, 2011

Summary:
Fourteen year old Luce has not had an easy time since her father's death a year ago.  Having no family to lean on other than a drunk uncle who enjoys slapping her around, Luce lives in the shadows with the hope that she won't draw unwanted attention from anyone, but especially her uncle.  But the night comes when her uncle's attention is drawn, and this assault is far worse than any beating she could ever imagine. 

Afterward, he leaves her lying along the path near the cliffs, cold and alone, and Luce is finally at her breaking point.  Instead of dragging herself home, she jumps to the rocks below, craving the sweet release that only death could possibly bring her.

But death is not in the cards for Luce.  Upon waking, she is caught in the thrall of the most beautiful song she'd ever heard.  Surrounded by a sea of people are swimming deeper and deeper to the bottom of the ocean, it takes her more than a minute to realize that she is no longer human...and that the melody--an enchanting tune that is propelling people to drown themselves--she hears is coming from her.

Now a mermaid, Luce makes her home with a tribe of the sirens--girls who were once lost and broken, just like her.  At first, she is overjoyed at finally having a place, a family, to belong, but soon, Luce learns that this happiness and freedom come at a terrible price.  Being a mermaid, she is ruled by the overwhelming need to sing...a song that means death to any human that should hear it.  Luce doesn't want to kill anyone, but the pressure to fit in with the other mermaids--her new family--is enormous...and means murder.

My Take:
This is not a story for the faint of heart.  Anyone expecting a story about a girl who finds family, friendship, hope, and unconditional love will be a little thrown.  That said, LOST VOICES is a haunting story about one girl's journey after turning her back on humanity to become a mermaid, only to find that she never lost her compassion in the first place.

Luce's human life is a tragedy in itself.  Her mother died when she was very young; her father made his living as thief until just a year before the story begins.  In an attempt to finally give his daughter a normal life, he moves them to live with his brother and he takes a job on a fishing boat...that perishes, never to be seen or heard from again and leaving Luce with an uncle who is lower than scum. 

But, mermaid life is not without its pitfalls.  The hierarchy within the tribe and the laws that govern the mermaids soon leads to trouble, especially as more and more mermaids are brought into the fold.  And soon, it becomes apparent to everyone, including the tribe's reigning leader, that Luce is destined to sit at the top: as queen of the tribe.  Through all this, Luce continues to struggle with the fact that she does not want to kill anyone, a human flaw that is frowned upon by the tribe.

The first book in a trilogy, LOST VOICES is a quiet, but haunting introduction into the dark world of sea sirens and the songs they sing that ultimately lure sailors to their deaths.