Book Reviews

Review: “Lost Voices,” Sarah Porter

January 28, 2011

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Lost Voices,” Sarah PorterLost Voicesby Sarah Porter
Series: Lost Voices #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on July, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Mermaids / Selkies
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?

Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.

I was expecting a whole lot from this. As you may know, I simply adore any kind of mermaid books and firmly believe there needs to be more of them. While you definitely get more than your fair share of mermaids in Lost Voices, I didn’t particularly feel attached to any of the characters besides Luce (the protagonist) and I was unable to understand just what the whole point of it was in the end.

The thing that annoyed me the most about this book was basically the amount of useless events and pieces. There’s a handful of them; particularly Luce’s relationship with the young boy called Gum (which never gets revisited later), the sparse interaction between the girl Tessa, the first-person narrative switching to the 14 orphan girls for a chapter and the boy who was unable to resist Luce’s singing. All these plot points had enormous potential if they were to be explored more, or used as some serious framework for the story in general, but they weren’t. They simply served as ‘oh, dear, another downside or thing I’ve done wrong/left behind’ fodder.

I didn’t like Catarina from the start and although I can understand why Luce was enamoured with her to begin with, I hoped as she grew stronger and believed in herself more that crazy idolization of Cat would wane. Not the case.

I also felt as though too many new characters were just introduced, introduced, introduced! I felt this particularly when Anais was brought into the tribe somewhat straight after the 14 orphan girls. And what was the point of poor Tessa? Other than to shock Luce back to a sort of normality? I really think the relationship between those two girls in particular should have been explored further, especially since Luce so often daydreams about her as the story goes on.

But, the things I did like about the novel are also worth mentioning!

I love Sarah Porter’s method and style of writing. It flows just like the music she weaves into her story so well. If it weren’t for her brilliant talent with words I don’t think I would have had the heart to finish. While this is definitely a memorable mermaid story and one I’d recommend to any fans of the creatures, it simply wasn’t the kind I was expecting. It focuses more on the dark side than the light, so be prepared for that.

Luce could have very easily been an annoying voice in which to tell the story through. This isn’t the case, thankfully. I could really sympathize with Luce from early on (not so much when she was human, only after her transformation) and I really admired certain ways she dealt with things. She shone as my favourite of the tribe and it’s always good when the main character makes you feel that way.

Also, Sarah Porter’s descriptions are very vivid and enjoyable. I felt like I was right inside the pages and experiencing the surroundings, songs and pain expressed through her characters. If you don’t read for the plot, definitely read for both her style and ability to paint a picture.

As for the ending, I don’t quite know what to make of it. I was just left wondering… why? What had been achieved and where would Luce go from there? There wasn’t any indication at all.

Recommended to: All mermaid fans should definitely try this one out for size as I really enjoyed the parts about coming to terms with the transformation as well as learning the ‘mermaid’ way of life.

About Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter is a writer, artist, and freelance teacher. She teaches creative writing workshops in the New York public schools via Teachers and Writers Collaborative. She lives in Brooklyn with her wonderful husband, an artist and fabricator of electronic art, and their cats Jub Jub and Delphine.


  • Reply Jenna January 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I’ve got this one in my TBR pile and I’ll get to it eventually. I really do like mermaids. I see what you mean how it focusing more on the dark than the light could be kinda meh. And I can’t stand it when endings don’t leave any sort of satisfaction! But I’ll still read this one day!


    • Reply Brittany January 29, 2011 at 5:12 am

      Oh, I hope you do read it so hopefully we can discuss it :D I was expecting summery fun, swimming with dolphins, etc. I don’t know how I got that idea if I read the description, lmao, but still.

  • Reply Miss Bookiverse January 29, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Sounds really confusing and unsatisfying. I’ll give it a try anyway and see how it goes.

    • Reply Brittany January 29, 2011 at 12:41 am

      Sure! I’m eager to see what someone else thinks! Goodreads has some mixed reviews.

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