Storm Siren (review)

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Storm Siren (Storm Siren, #1)Storm Siren by Mary Weber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“ ‘Fourteen circles for fourteen owners.’
I shade my eyes to block the sun’s reflection off the distant mountains currently doused in snow and smoke and flesh-eating birds” – Kindle Location 107.

In this first snippet of the story already we see its bloody DNA. I should have read the online sample and been warned.

Seventeen-year-old Nymia is a Uathuil, a citizen of the land of Faelen in Mary Weber’s paranormal fantasy Storm Siren. Of the Uathuil’s she is a female Elemental who shouldn’t even exist. But she does, having been sold and resold from one slave master to another. At the point the story begins, she’s bought again by the evilly attractive Adora.

Adora puts her in the charge of handsome and mysterious trainer Eogan. Soon Nymia is learning to harness her powerful weather-creating abilities and combine them with Colin’s earth-moving talents. Together they are being prepared as Faelen’s weapons against neighboring Bron’s army and war planes.

As training proceeds, Nymia feels herself being increasingly drawn to Eogan, who can calm her explosive nature with his touch—and does with touches that progress from hand, to waist, to neck, to…

Nymia, for her part, fights any softness within herself or sensed in others with sarcasm, anger, and violence. She is honest, abrupt, vulnerable, and self-loathing but does display infrequent flashes of nobility as distaste for the killing machine she feels she is destined to remain.

The book is written in first person (Nymia’s point-of-view) present tense. The writing is vivid, action-filled, and poetic.

Despite Weber’s intriguing fantasy world, strong characterization, and strong writing, I didn’t like this book. Nymia’s inner life and thoughts seemed overly melodramatic—teenaged angst on caffeine-laced hormones. The fight scenes were complicated and felt almost cartoonish in the way the main characters were able to dodge death in split-second maneuvers. The romantic scenes hovered between lustful and creepy. Halfway through I seriously considered not finishing it. But Thomas Nelson published it, I told myself. Surely it will end up having some redeeming features.

I guess one might call Nymia’s visit to the Valley of Origin such a feature, and Colin’s sacrifice, and the inclusion of words like “redemption” and “atonement” near the end. But I found the meaning of these bits so abstruse, their message so vague and subtle–not to speak of  the little that felt positive being cancelled out by the whiplash ending–the total of the positive really didn’t justify the hours spent in dark negativity and bloody violence. As a result, I don’t recommend this book.

I received Storm Siren as a gift from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.

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The Hunger Games (review)

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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t remember who recommended The Hunger Games to me but I downloaded it—probably for free—on my Kindle a while ago. When I found that none of my unread Christian novels on the same device were appealing (after awhile they all start out sounding the same), I decided to dip into the Games.

Wow! What a hard-to-put-down tome. Set in a futuristic America, I suppose it would be classified as a YA dystopian because the heroine Katniss is a teenager and everything is grim, dangerous, with a big-brother-is watching feel. Each character has his or her mystery: Katniss, Peeta, Prim, Gale—even the names are perfect for the futuristic setting.

There’s so much going on—so much ruse and deception. No one knows what’s what. We’re solidly in Katniss’s head and she doesn’t trust anyone, so we’re suspicious of everyone too. She interprets all of life through the lens of the underdog. But we see the reaction of the crowd, the judges, Peeta, and we wonder, is she seeing things realistically? Or is she being too suspicious? At the same time, we’re liking her suspicion and guardedness, sure that it will help her survive.

The reality show part of the plot is brilliant, given the current reality show craze on TV. These games are terrifying and brutal with each player’s life on the line. Surprises are everywhere. Though there is a comic book superhero feel to some of the “tributes” (what the Hunger Game contestants are called), by this time in the book we’ve bought into the fantasy aspect to the extent that even their impossible antics feel plausible.

For two reasons I give this book four stars, not five: for its violence and portrayal of sex.

To be fair, Katniss does not kill gratuitously. And the killing she does bothers her. Still some of the scenes are very gruesome and disturbing.

On the sexual front, not much goes on past kissing and cuddling which, on Katniss’s part, is all an act—or is it? What disturbs me about this is the subtle message that it’s okay to compromise your principles, to play a part (here the part of the lover) if there’s enough at stake. That’s something I don’t believe is true. There is something more important than even physical survival (depicted in the Bible’s portrayal of the final battle between good and evil – Revelation 12:7-11, especially vs. 11).

Taking the above into consideration, if you want a few hours of total escape, The Hunger Games won’t disappoint.

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