Siren Review - How to Make Mermaids Boring
by Tricia Rayburn
Published in 2010
I found this book at Savers, one of my favorite thrift store places to get used books, and assumed this was the same book that the Freeform TV show was based on. Once I did my research after, I was wrong but I decided that it should be close enough and be interesting especially since it hinted that the Sirens would be “magical”. Since I love mermaids (Thanks Disney), I was hoping this would be exploring the darker side of mermaids. Instead, Sirens just made me want to go to sleep.
Sirens begins with Vanessa and her sister Justine spending the summer in Winter Harbor, Maine with their family and friends. They are best friends with the Carmichael boys, Caleb and Simon, with Justine restarting a summer fling with Caleb upon every return. They head to Chione Cliffs to jump off into the water, and while Vanessa is usually afraid, she decides to jump but cuts her leg on the way. As the weather worsens, everyone heads home. The next day, Justine has disappeared until her body washes up at the local beach. Vanessa and her parents are in disbelief as they try to understand if Justine jumped into the water and why.
Vanessa decides to move away from her parents as she tries investigating the death of her sister. Caleb has disappeared as well, so Vanessa turns to Simon to help her in finding him to ask some questions. She becomes a waitress at a local restaurant and befriends Paige, the grand-daughter of the owner of the restaurant. She is mystified by Paige’s sister Zara even though she experiences major headaches whenever she seems to be around. The more she looks into the sister, the more concerned Vanessa becomes as she learns that Zara has entranced many men who have later disappeared and been found dead. This is confirmed when she finds a scrapbook of all the men who disappeared leading back to before Zara was even before, showing that this has been in the family for generations.
Vanessa finally pieces together the truth of Zara and her family and realizes that they are sirens. She is afraid and hopes Simon will help, but he fears as well that Vanessa might have a closer connection to the sirens than she thinks. After finding Caleb and learning that he was the victim of Zara’s efforts, they learn that Justine was killed in order to get her out of the way as Zara continued to advance upon Caleb. It is revealed that Vanessa seemed to have been impacted and is now part Siren from the accident the day before Justine’s death. After facing the sirens herself, Caleb is released from the trance and Simon acknowledges that it might be because she’s a siren, he still loves Vanessa.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 3/10
I really didn’t enjoy reading this book. Like I really really didn’t like this book. I have a habit where even when I don’t like a book, I continue reading just in case it finally gets good at the end, but this was not the case. I am not even sure where to begin when critiquing this novel. I suppose we can start with the boring characters. I see that they tried to make Vanessa relatable with her being an insecure teenager who can’t let go of her sister, but she came across as flat. The surrounding characters were also just extremely boring, with their motivations often unclear, dialogue uninspiring, and interactions completely stale. The romance between Vanessa and Simon was extremely unclear where they are only friends to lovers overnight which makes it extremely confusing to see them as a romantic couple. It also is just not romantic at all and there is this weird lack of chemistry behind the characters. The most interesting character was Betsy, the grandma, and we only got to see the best of her in the last couple of chapters in the book.
I wish the book delved into the history of the sirens and the logistics. Like where did they come from? Do they have powers? Why do they need water? Can you be turned into a siren or born? What is actually going on? The lack of context behind the sirens and lack of context in the actions of the character often leads the reader to just blindly be moving ahead which means you don’t actually know what is going on throughout at least half the book. It is still unclear to me if Vanessa was turned into a siren or supposedly born as one because of her father? If so, why doesn’t she need water as much as everyone else? Until the end when all of a sudden she needs salt water too. There is a lack of consistency in their actions which again just makes it extremely confusing to read.
Also, if we really think through the novel now, why did Justine die? If Zara was such a good siren, shouldn’t Caleb stayed entranced to her? Had she killed girlfriends in the past before when pursuing men? It just seems like a really bad reason that was thrown together to kill off Justine in order to motivate Vanessa to “discover the truth”. The payout at the end was also just really disappointing. Instead of building up to a big dramatic ending, I felt like the book takes the reader to the Cliffs and then… fizzles out? I literally just read the ending yesterday and can’t even tell you what the ending really was besides a waste of my time. I had higher hopes for this novel and just felt like it absolutely was not worth the read. Skip this read as life is too short for crappy books.