Friday, June 17, 2011

REVIEW: Sirenz (These girls didn't tempt me...there are more enticing sirens out there)

Bennardo, C., & Zaman, N.  (2011).  Sirenz.  Woodbury, MN:  Flux.

275 pages.

Appetizer:  Seventeen-year-old roommates Shar and Meg do not get along.  It's just not working out.  One night, after a failed attempt to try to develop a friendship, a fight over a beautiful pair of red high heels and a very attractive boy results in the guy dying in a subway accident.  To make matters worse, the nearby witnesses think Char and Meg pushed him.

In steps the god of the Underworld, Hades.  He makes Char and Meg an offer they can't refuse (at least, not without suffering through a long prison sentence).  The two girls are tasked to become sirens, like the monsters from Greek mythology.  They have a short period of time to lure a person who has made a deal with Hades to one of several underworld portals throughout New York City.

While the task seems simple enough, they realize too late that the more they use their new bewitching powers, the more bird-like their appearances become.  And if they fail, Shar and Meg will become Hades's dog walkers...for all of eternity.

The story alternates between Shar and Meg's perspectives.  At first I was amused by their differing characterizations.  But, as I kept reading, it seemed that any differences between the two were only at the surface level, and I couldn't really distinguish between their voices except for the fact that one was more fond of the color pink than the other.

I also initially liked the way aspects of mythology were alluded to early on in the text (a hot guy was referred to as a god, etc.) and the way Persephone was portrayed.

But the more I read, the more aspects of the story began to engage me less and less and leeeeeeesssssssssss.  At times, the way action was described in the story was a little too brief for my taste.  Stuff would happen, and I would be like, wait, what?    The way gender and feminine beauty are treated are also just begging to be analyzed.  (But in terms of Sirenz being a bubble gum, light, New York City is the center of the universe, fashionista, chick lit, it's nothing out of the ordinary.)  The focus on superficiality did start to grate on me as I kept reading.  It's statements like, "War it would be.  And may the better-looking, better-dressed, nicer girl--namely, me--win" (p. 65) that make me right "ugh" in the book's margins.  And what about the smarter girl?  I'm personally all for the smarter girl winning.  (Although, at no point in the story did Meg or Shar strike me as being particularly smart.  Call me a workaholic, but after making a deal with the god Hades that could cost my soul, I'd spend my next morning trying to plan how to complete my half of the bargain instead of going shopping.  But that's just me....)

Also, despite the fact that Meg and Shar are seniors in high school, they may as well be twenty-somethings.  In fact, I wish they would have been...because then I probably wouldn't have bothered to read it.

Overall, I liked the premise of this story.  But the characterizations and lack of intelligence in the plot and protagonists left me wishing the book was 100 pages shorter.

Dinner Conversation:

"God, you're wearing those clunky things again?  How stupid, wearing five-inch wedge heels on cracked and frozen New York City sidewalks.  What if you break an ankle?
"Great shoes," I said, faking a beauty queen smile at Meg" (p. 1).

"It was an accident!" whispered Shar.
"My dear Sharisse and Margaret, this poor soul is dead.  You both had a hand in killing him.  Do you think that will matter to his family and friends?  To the courts?"
"How do you know our names?" My voice, steady until now, trembled slightly.  I glanced over at Shar, who stared back, looking as pale as I felt.
"What should we do?" she whimpered." (p. 20).

"But let's get back on topic.  You killed an innocent man." He grinned sardonically.  "And if I heard you correctly, you both said that you would do anything to make this situation go away.  I'm here to oblige you.  I've never seen such natural talent!"
"Talent for what?" I asked.
"Think about what happened.  You met that young man tonight, and you made quite an impression.  He was going to take both of you to a music venue, yes?  You saw what you wanted and wasted no time in engaging him.  And then Sharisse"--he turned a lascivious grin on Shar--"not to be outdone, moved in, and all she had to do was smile.  How could he stay away from either of you?  He was completely enchanted.  You lured him to his doom, and he happily followed!"  (pp. 23-24).

"Our agreement requires you tow to lure Mr. Romanov to one of the many portals to my realm.  To help you achieve this task, your natural talents will be enhanced."  He looked from me to Meg and back again before continuing.
"As Margaret has so accurately described, the Sirens called to the sailors, who couldn't resist them.  A word or a look drew their victims to them."  He licked his full lips and gazed at me.  "One look from you, Sharisse, is already captivating.  From this moment forward, no mortal will be able to look away when you engage him.  And you," he continued, turning to Meg, "so glib, Margaret.  They'll hear you, and they'll obey."
"That's it?" I asked.
"I doubt it," Meg replied.  (pp. 30-31).

Tasty Rating:  !!

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