Khanh the Killjoy

Silent Echo: A Siren's Tale

Silent Echo: A Siren's Tale - Elisa Freilich Recommended for:1. People whose knowledge of sirens is limited to those things in police cars that go "whoo whoo."2. People who loved the poetry that their 7th grade crush wrote for them.3. People who have eaten dinner beforehand and not susceptible to sugary metaphors.4. Fans of AppleĀ®."I am blessed organologicalMy powers are roboticalI am your diametricalYou're no longer magistical!We started antiphonical,You thought your words demonical,But my verse exorcistical---The real Portia is mystical!"This book is based on the Greek myths of the sirens. Let me preface by saying that the word "Greek mythology" is my personal siren song. I am always, always, irresistibly drawn to types of books based on Greek mythology. I am a myth geek. This is the girl who read Bullfinch's Mythology cover to cover in middle school, so there's not much that can get past me in that sense. Don't get me wrong, I make room for suspension of disbelief. I know that sometimes a myth has to be bent somewhat to fit into some context of the story. However, I do not appreciate it when a myth is rewritten, when it is twisted and tortured beyond recognition, when it is bent to fit the story, instead of the other way around. It is disrespectful to the original, beloved myths, and it insults my intelligence as a reader. It is the equivalent of making the Gautama Buddha into a Bollywood star, of making Jesus into a weed-smoking hippie, it is the equivalent of making Sir Lancelot into his Monty Python equivalent: it is acceptable only within a parody.This book is not a parody, but it reads as such. There is a difference between a "unique spin" on things, and then there is completely FUBARing it. For me, this book is an example of the latter.The misuse and alteration of Greek mythology is a small grievance for me, in this book's context, because I felt there are so many bigger problems with it. I do not give a low rating without cause, and here are my list of problems for this book.1. The writing:The attempts at poetry: there is a lot of verses and poetry in this book, and to be honest, I felt they were absolutely terrible. I understand that some of the poetrry were meant to be 1) an attempt at humor and 2) an attempt at poetry. Most often, they were just cringe-inducingly bad. The poetry is of the sort that your emo teenaged boyfriend would write to you, and sure, they may seem adorable at the time, but 5 years later, you look back at your old love notes and just laugh at how utterly terrible the attempts were. Portia finds them wonderful, loveable, she reads them with starry eyes. That may be believable, seen through the rose-colored glasses of a 16-year old...but they just did not work for me, at all. I groaned every time I saw another verse. I let my teenaged sister read a few verses, and she burst out laughing.This is an example of poetry which so swayed our Portia's heart, written by the hunky Max:And the rearview so appealing-God, where's the U-turn?I've gotta see it again.Cuz you're the Moyenne Corniche...I'm Mario Andretti,I'm stuck on the course,And you, baby, are the Grand Prix.Portia also serenades the hallowed Greek Pantheon (Zeus, Ares, Athena, etc.) with a poem involving the Golden Gate Bridge, Sex and the City, and Krispy Kreme's calories. That is but a few examples of the insufferable poetry used within this book.Use (abuse?) of language: I also felt the writing was...not good, to say the least. The similes, metaphors are so utterly melodramatic, superficial, and so strange, we're talking about oaky eyes, Granny Smith eyes, silkworms releasing melodic threads, etc.And Max's voice, oh, god help me. The descriptions of Max's voice. Apparently, voices are edible. It's like "a block of chocolate wrapped in sandpaper," "warm caramel sprinkled with coarse sea salt,"sweet cotton candy wrapping itself around a paper cone, building up layer by billowy layer." Mmm...Max's voicecandy. *Homer Simpson drool*Name/brand dropping: I felt like this book was trying too hard to appeal to a teenaged audience. You can barely read a page without seeing some kind of pop-culture reference. Apple, "stevejobs" password, Abercrombie & Fitch, Timbaland, Louboutins, iTunes, iCal, iChat, Facetime, Siri, True Religion, CSI, Law & Order, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Robert Pattinson aka "Rpats."Did I say there were a lot of Apple references? There are a lot of Apple references. I think we can safely assume that someone is a Machead. I wondered at times if there were royalties to be gained every time an Apple product is mentioned within the book... with the multitude of references throughout the book. I do enjoy some references, I do think it appeals to the reader and gets them connected to the book, but this book way overdoes it. It felt utterly forced.2. Portia Griffin:Her birth: emerges from her mother's womb, perfectly formed, with a rosebud mouth, sings away a storm of birds. Blood? Gore? Afterbirth? What afterbirth. Portia emerges from her mother's womb like Aphrodite emerges from the sea in a seashell, freaking perfect in every way. She is supposedly speshul and the only one of her kind born within millennias (that is THOUSANDS OF YEARS) because of the love her parents share. Ok, that's all good, but the reader is expected to believe that her parents are extra-loving because why? There is no explanation, there is no reasoning, there is no evidence of that. Helena and Joshua Griffin are extra-affectionate to each other in the book, but that's pretty much it. It is an absolutely flimsy premise for making Portia into the extra-special Siren that she is.Her character: Most of the characters in this book did not appeal to me, they never felt real to me, but Portia's is all the more crucial because she is supposed to be the main character. I felt like she had no personality, she is boring, she is dull. Her character supposedly changes as she turns more seductive, more evil. The change felt unreal, her character development is nonexistent. Acting like a bitch, feeling sultry and seductive does not a Siren make. She was never a likeable character, Portia is initially silly and fluffy, and her sudden, capricious descent into a darker side felt forced and unnatural, it is not even a believable case of Jekyll and Hyde. She becomes an even more dislikeable character as the book progresses, and to me, Portia never redeems herself, even if she refers to herself as a "freestylin' Sarah Brightman."Portia is a complete jerk to every one of her friends. She is manipulative...that's supposed to be part of her nature, but it doesn't make her any more likeable as a character. I didn't like the other characters in the book at all, but I ended up sympathizing with them throughout the book because of all the crap that Portia puts them through. She uses people, she treats them like dirt. She manipulates a girl who has been physically and mentally abused since childhood by her stepfather. She ditches her best friend since childhood to hang out with a boy she's known for a couple of days, so on and so forth.Her transformation: Portia's training is completely unexplained, she is supposedly taught to use her powers by a teacher, but we don't see any of that. We are just asked to believe that she can do all these things.3. The story: It was boring. It was all telling, no showing. We are supposed to believe that Portia is in danger, that she a potential danger. Well, there is little evidence of that. The middle of the book was a desert of boredom, nothing happens besides Portia learning about herself, exercising her powers on others, and being a jerk to everyone. There is no sense of danger, of thrills, of impending doom. There's a lot of people freaking out over nothing, as far as I can tell. The plot did not engross me at all. For me, there might as well have been no plot.4. The lack of mythology: I'm going to really have to censor myself here lest I go off completely on a long, expletive-filled rant on how inaccurate this was. Initially, I didn't think this was going to be any worse than, say, The Goddess Test, where Henry = Hades, among other abominations. I was wrong. Initially, the characters used are pretty obscure, so I overlooked how inaccurate it was, but eventually I just couldn't avoid all the niggling grievances. And there are many.This book takes the mythology of the sirens and completely rewrites it. Name of mythical characters are used completely out of context, mythical creatures are slapped with the labels of "God" and "Goddess" regardless of their actual stature. A satyr? Sure, let's call him a god. Sirens? They're actually sea nymphs, but let's call them goddesses too. Ok, let's kill off a muse for fun. While we're at it, let's give Ares a couple of sons, and then have them die, too, completely without history or explanation. Oh, Athena needs to make a sacrifice to bring up a spirit...killing a goat is "so 500 years ago." Let's have her burn a Boca burger and soy chicken instead. And certainly the Greek Pantheon is useless and absolutely terrified of a couple of wayward Sirens. Zeus? Lightning bolt-shooting Zeus? The king of the Greek Gods? He's apparently just a king in name, a shadow puppet king, as useless as he acts within the book.I need to stop talking about the misuse of mythology here, for my own sanity.5. Romance: there is not only insta-love between Portia and Max, but there is also a love triangle. And everyone is in love with her, because Portia becomes so hot and seductive as a Siren. We have the Holy Trinity of romance tropes in this book. Portia can treat them like crap beneath her feet, and she does over and over and over; as frustrated and as angry as they are, the poor doormats duo of Felix and Max sticks by her side.Do I need to say how unrealistic the portrayal of love in this book is? It is a crush. It is a girl's starry-eyed infatuation with a musician with a cowlick of hair over his eyes. Even Max doesn't feel like a real character outside of being Portia's hunk in shining armor. Felix is little more than newly developing muscles and biceps and emerging five o'clock shadow.Not recommended.I received a copy of this book for review through Netgalley. The quotes taken are from an uncorrected e-galley and is subject to change in the final edition.