A few months back, I was perusing the Young Adult shelves in Barnes and Noble and I came across a book with an intriguing plot. The back cover drew me into a world of mermaids that were under fire by the government. One mermaid in particular found herself between two worlds, pressured to lead the mermaids to safety and empathy for the human world.
While I didn’t have enough in my pocket to get it at the time, I kept it in the back of my mind. Recently, I came across it while I was browsing Oyster (the online book borrowing site that costs around 10$ a month). Upon further inspection I discovered that there were two more books that came before that one. I was brimming with excitement and eagerly began the first book of the installment.
I’m only about halfway through the book and I already have a few qualms.
Lost Voices and the two following books, Waking Storms and The Twice Lost, are written by Sarah Porter. The protagonist is a fourteen year old girl, Lucette, who has led an unusual life that led her to live with her uncle in Alaska. Her voice fails her as a girl, especially during an attack by someone she should have trusted.
They violence of the betrayal leads to her magical transformation. Luce can hardly believe in mermaids let alone that she is one, but she seems to be a natural at it. Despite her gift, she feels the heavy weight of guilt over the tragedies that her fellow mermaids create by bringing down wayward ships.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the premise of this story. What is really bothering me is the amount of skill actually applied to the writing itself. The way that she strings words together has a lot of potential, but beyond that there wasn’t a lot of effort put into this.
Characters are vaguely defined so that their relationships amongst one another seem one dimensional and almost cheesy. At first is the uncle’s resentment towards Luce due to her mother’s infidelity. We don’t know anything of her mother’s relationship to this man or even about her mother to care, but it becomes a big reason behind an important plot point.
I can totally understand Luce’s immediate infatuation with her fellow mermaids as she found a loving community. But each mermaid has less character development than a Disney princess. Their dialog between each other is nothing like people would speak to each other. It feels fake and takes away from the actual growth that we as readers are supposed to be feeling.
This keeps going on as more and more characters are introduced. It almost keeps me from having any emotional investment in the supporting cast. I don’t know if this is because the writer was aiming towards a certain age range for her audience, but her vocabulary and syntax don’t leave a lot of room for that argument. Young adult learn by reading and if plot mechanics are dummied down for age then it is taking away from the learning process.
I plan on finishing this book and starting the others, but I’m really glad that I didn’t pay for it. I have hopes that the writer’s skill and revision process improves as the books continue because the plot itself is beyond amazing.
Check her out here and tell me what you think: http://www.sarahporterbooks.com/index.html