Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: The Siren

Title: The Siren
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 26, 2016

From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

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.

The Siren by Kiera Cass is a book that I've wanted to read for years now; I just never got around to purchasing it. Then when I finally decided to buy it, HarperTeen announced that they bought the rights and that a newly edited version would soon hit shelves. Fast forward a few years, and I finally got my hands on a copy of this highly anticipated book.

My Review

The Siren by Kiera Cass is a unique take on the myth of sirens and the ocean. The novel itself is a fairly quick read that teens (and adults) of all ages will enjoy because it's full of the many things that Cass is known for - beautiful ball gowns, romances and very relatable passages that will be quoted for years to come.

In The Siren, a nineteen-year-old named Kahlen, (who has been nineteen for eighty years) is in service to the Ocean. Her job? A siren. So what exactly do these sirens do? Kahlen and her "sisters" must take all orders from the Ocean, and that means singing to kill innocent ship passengers so that the Ocean can survive. It's a deadly job, but it's one that they must do in order to remain in her favor and to earn their mortal life at the end of their service.

The sirens - Kahlen, Aisling, Miaka, Elizabeth, and eventually Padma all live to serve the Ocean. Even though the girls can't be injured or die, they can feel emotions, and Kahlen is very emotional. She becomes depressed after falling in love with Akinli, a boy that she can't be with, and things go south quickly for all of the girls.

There is a lot of emotion in this book, and I mean a lot of emotion. First, there are Kahlen's ever-changing feelings. She's up and giddy when she's with Akinli. She's very down and depressed when she's not with him. She's also very withdrawn, and doesn't really interact with her sisters, and that made me really sad because I liked the girls. I just wanted her to spend time with them and really be in the moment with them. There's more emotion when Aisling's hundred years end and she becomes human again. Then there's even more emotion when their newest sister, Padma, joins them. There's just a lot of feelings in this book.

I really liked the diversity of the sirens. There are girls from all different walks of life, different cultures, and different time periods serving the Ocean. What I didn't like is that Cass didn't fully explore their cultures or heritages. Yes, they are supposed to forget most everything from their first life, but I feel like a little more about these girls would have made the book extremely special, especially with some of them remembering bits and pieces.

The personification of the Ocean was probably my favorite part of the book because it got me thinking about a lot of different things. Now I realize that the Ocean doesn't really need to feed on human souls, but what would She say to us if she could really talk? It was fun to see how She treated the sirens, but it was emotional to watch Her make the girls do horrific things. I also liked seeing how motherly she was to the girls, especially Kahlen. 

I really liked the contemporary feel of The Siren. At first, I thought that the book might read too much like a fantasy, and I'll admit that I was a bit hesitant to start reading it. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that it was set in modern times and had a light feel to it. There are some supernatural elements to the novel, but it's not too much for a reader who might tend to stay away from fantasy or paranormal books. It's the right balance of fantasy and contemporary, and it's reminiscent of how The Selection books are a sweet balance of dystopia and contemporary. 

The narration of The Siren could have been a lot better. For the most part, it's kind of dull and sad. I think Ms. Cass was trying to add a new layer to the book so that readers could really feel everything that Kahlen is going through, but it drags the short book out a bit. Yes, it's still a quick read, but it's one that I had to tackle in chunks, instead of all at once, just because I couldn't take Kahlen at certain times.

The romance in The Siren was cute, but I was expecting so much more after reading America and Maxon's love story in The Selection books. There are times in the book, especially at the beginning of the novel, when I really felt the spark between Akinli and Kahlen, but then things felt kind of shaky. I think the twists and turns had a lot to do with it, but I really wanted these two to figure things out. However, I was a huge fan of that perfect ending, and it brought a smile to my face to see how Kiera ended the novel.

All in all, The Siren isn't a bad book, but it is one that I expected a lot more from. I so desperately wanted to love this book and really enjoy it, but it's just one of those so-so books for me. I enjoyed the plot, and I really enjoyed reading something different from Kiera Cass, but I think this book could have used just a bit more polishing before it was rereleased so that it could really shine like a gem. 

Kiera Cass is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series. She is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with her family. Kiera spent the first nineteen years of her life by the ocean. It never tried to eat her.

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