Luce is used to being the new kid in school and to her books being her only friends. She's even used to avoiding her drunk abusive uncle. One day though his abuse goes too far and Luce lets go of her humanity. When she wakes up she is a mermaid, part of a tribe, and has the most beautiful and powerful voice of them all. Too bad mermaids take lives with their voices.
I haven't read a mermaid story since H.C. Andersen's Little Mermaid and seeing this book on NetGalley decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. Luce is an avid reader so while the story is definitely YA the vocabulary isn't simplistic but still feels natural, without the effect of thesaurus overuse. I really liked the narrative voice for how lyrical and visual it is. Singing is a very important part of the bulk of this book and Ms. Porter did a wonderful job describing the mermaids' singing in a way that wasn't flat or confusing. I actually felt like I knew exactly what their songs sounded like and could understand the almost physical nature of the songs.
There's a stark contrast between the beauty of the mermaids, the world they live in, the exhilaration of their strength and speed, the magic of their voices and the reason why they are all there. It's very dark, actually, because they are all teenagers, the oldest is only 16, but they've all lived a life of pain and abuse and when it all became too much they left the human world but didn't really die. I enjoyed having the weight of this fact to balance the general immaturity of the mermaids, it helped give depth to the story that otherwise could have felt too much like "mean girls gone wild", especially in the second half of the book. There is also the interesting concept that the girls who had no voice in their human lives, were never heard and always disregarded now had voices that could not be ignored.
Lost Voices is the first in a trilogy and it is the beginning of what I think will be a theme arc of coming to terms with who you are, learning to take control of your life, forgiving past hurts and friendship and it's good to know that this book is only the beginning because the way it ended was a bit confusing to me. It was so abrupt that for a moment I thought that I received an incomplete file but the more I thought about the ending after I confirmed that the file was indeed complete the more it made sense. The external conflict here was so strong and volatile that I've almost forgotten all about the importance of the internal conflict while it is the internal conflict that pushed the story forward from the very beginning. Throughout the book Luce struggled with having become a mermaid and signing ships to their death, she struggled with the power of her voice and with the fact that her father most likely died because of mermaids but in the end she comes to appreciate her new world and the beauty of it, she is determined to choose her destiny and grows up just enough to take on the out of control mermaids in the next book. At least I hope she'll take them on because with Anais at the helm those girls have most definitely gone wild.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy YA, mermaids and don't mind a protagonist who's not a lara croft type.
ARC of this book was obtained through NetGalley.com