The Bookworm-The Siren Calls

A love even bigger than the ocean

Alexandra Dobesh, Staff Writer

The myth of the sirens has been around since the time of Ancient Greece: beautiful sea creatures lure their unsuspecting prey into the ocean to drown with their golden voices.

Kiera Cass, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series “The Selection,” has taken this old myth and given it a modern twist in her book, “The Siren.”

The book begins with Kahlen, a 19-year-old girl, 80 years in the past. She is traveling on a ship with her family when, all of a sudden, every passenger hears beautiful singing. This enchanting music compels each and every person on the boat to throw themselves into the water. As Kahlen begins to plunge to her death, she begs not to die.

And she doesn’t.

Kahlen is given a choice. Her first option is to become one of the Ocean’s sirens for 100 years. While serving the Ocean, she would have to go out when asked to sing, luring innocent victims to the same deadly fate her own family met. Her second option is death.

Kahlen agrees to become one of the Ocean’s sirens. She serves her payment faithfully for 80 years, moving around constantly with other sirens who are basically her sisters. The sirens are gifted with immortality during their years of service. They are gifted with beauty, youth, the ability to go without sleep or food and immunity to sickness, but they can not speak to mortals. Anyone who hears their voice is pulled to the Ocean to drown.

While Kahlen’s sisters enjoy their youth and go out partying every night, she is plagued by guilt and haunted by her victims. She has the morbid habit of keeping scrapbooks with information those she led to die and imagines the lives they might have lived. Kahlen is quiet and avoids people at all cost to prevent the constant hurt of ending relationships.

Kahlen is successful in her conquest until she meets Akinli. He is everything she ever dreamed of. And more. Akinli ignores the fact that Kahlen can’t speak and actively pursues a relationship with her. He is sweet, funny and handsome, but Kahlen still has 20 years of service to the Ocean left. She knows they could never be together.

Kahlen is torn between obedience and defiance, her head and her heart. Cass creates a love story that pulls at the heartstrings of the reader. She uses strong emotions to keep her audience engaged.  The reader’s heart can’t help but break for Akinli and Kahlen and the love that is just meant to be.

I particularly enjoyed how this book presented ethical dilemmas, forcing the reader to think and process the motives and values of each character. It is up to them to decide if the Ocean really is evil and if the sirens are justified in their actions. “The Siren” puts its readers into the story and causes them to ponder what they would do in each character’s shoes.

I absolutely adored this book. It’s strongest asset is without a doubt its characters. Each one is flawed in their own way. They have a diverse mix of interests and personalities. Kahlen’s fellow sirens are sassy and outgoing, yet they have a compassionate side that comes out when they realize Kahlen is suffering.  Kahlen herself is a rule follower who enjoys daydreaming about weddings and dancing the jitterbug. She is very caring and hates to see others suffer. Even the Ocean takes on the different roles of a loving mother and a demanding captor.

Cass creates a love story that is interesting and unique. It focuses on the emotional side of love. “The Siren” is not a mushy and predictable love story. It is one bedecked with heartbreak and plot twists. The characters must overlook past mistakes and make sacrifices. Cass did not create a picture-perfect little world where the Kahlen and Akinli are always happy and get to be together with no problems. The problems they face in their relationship are real. Everything is not perfect, and that makes this book all the more fascinating.

The Siren” is a book worth reading. It will leave its audience dreaming of a love larger than the ocean.