Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review #1: Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli

Sirena is cursed. She will not become immortal unless she is loved by a human man. The siren song she sings with her mermaid sisters makes men adore her - yet it leads them to their deaths.
That is why she hides when she finds an adandoned young soldier. He wants to know her, though she should not let him near her or allow him to hear her sing. But how can she fight a love she has been waiting for all her life - a love that will make her live forever?
Since I have always had a major fetish for mermaids, the first review I will be doing is on Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli. I think this book is out of print, so you might have to buy a used copy on Amazon.com. (That's what I did.)

Sirena is a retelling of the Greek myth about sirens. Napoli imagines the sirens as ten mermaid sisters who are cursed: they cannot receive immortality unless a mortal man falls in love with them. Luring sailors to their island with their songs, the mermaids usually fail, since their songs often result in death. Those who live see the mermaids as half-fish, half-woman monsters.

I won't give away too much, but let's just say tragedy strikes the mermaid sisters, which results in Sirena swimming away to live by herself in the waters around the island of Lemnos. There she finds a handsome Greek soldier named Philoctetes who is abandoned by his crew because of his festering snakebite wound. Sirena tends to him while he lies unconscious due to the infection, and she becomes infatuated with this human man.
Sirena soon finds herself in a situation that results in her having to use her siren song, which causes bad things to happen between her and Philoctetes. Does he really love her, or is it only because of the magical influence he is under? Sirena's story is one of love and loss, immortality and sacrifice.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 seashells. I read this novel four years ago when in the sixth grade. Ever since then, I have still been mesmerized by it. The cover, too, is extraordinarily beautiful, and I found myself distracted by it while trying to read. I wanted to savor every page of this glorious novel; so much, in fact, that sometimes I would read only a page, then quit because I never wanted it to end. But, after two weeks, I knew it was time to stop savoring and just finish it already! At 226 pages, it is a short read, which was the only disappointment. I wanted more! I loved, loved, loved this book - all the way up to its bittersweet and tearjerking ending, one of the saddest endings to a book I have ever read. Sirena describes her ocean world with such beauty, and I couldn't help but wish I could be part of it.
Everything about this book (from its lyrical prose, to its sad ending, even its beautiful cover) was absolutely perfect!

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