Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sirens Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    1920s here we go! Something not many people know about me is that I love the 1920s. America 1920s, Europe 1920s, maybe somewhere else I just don't know much about, I would love to visit this era. At first it would be the decade I would want to live in if given the choice, but after several years of learning more and more about this decade, the more content I find myself in this era. (Laziness for the win!) Nonetheless, I've wanted to read a book based in this time and now I finally got one that's young adult! I will soon be acquiring a copy of The Diviners by Libba Bray which is another young adult based on the 20s, and am excited to start that one too!
   This is Sirens by Janet Fox and the synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

When Jo Winter’s parents send her off to live with her rich cousin on the glittering island of Manhattan, it’s to find a husband and forget about her brother Teddy’s death. But all that glitters is not gold.. 

Caught up in the swirl of her cousin’s bobbed-hair set—and the men that court them— Jo soon realizes that the talk of marriage never stops, and behind the seemingly boundless gains are illicit business endeavors, gangsters, and their molls. Jo would much rather spend time the handsome but quiet Charles, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel, than drape herself over a bootlegger. But when she befriends a moll to one of the most powerful men in town, Jo begins to uncover secrets—secrets that threaten an empire and could secure Jo’s freedom from her family. 

Can her newfound power buy her love? Or will it to ruin Jo, and everyone around her?

   I heard about this book from a booktuber who's name escapes me! She was a little younger than me, so I was iffy about thinking I'd like this book, but it's 1920s, I figured why not at least give it a shot. :)

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   Okay, I didn't want this review to go this way, but here I am, about to rant. *Rubs temples in frustration* To be fair, initially I wasn't going to. I was about to sit here and talk on and on and praise every single thing about this book. But I'll start with my problem, since there's honestly only one. And that is...
   THAT ENDING! I feel so cheated. Please don't misunderstand, I don't feel like I was cheated completely out of my money's worth in the book, it's only that I was not expecting that ending to be so disappointing. Maybe if I knew if there would be a sequel to further explain some loose details, or no I don't even need that, the author or the editor should have questioned it before publishing. And even if they did, they should have known that anyone reading this would be just as demanding for answers too. Or am I the only one? I don't like my stories to be open-ended and this one is. 
   My emotions are still a little raw, I want to bash and mock and taunt this book because the ending just infuriates me so. But that's it, the first 345 pages of the 369 page book I thoroughly enjoyed. If I didn't want to live in the era before, I certainly do now. Or if not live, at least visit! The people in this book seemed so real, from the main characters to the strangers. They had pleasantries, they had personalities that appalled me, they disappointed me and sometimes surprised me but not really shocking. All the characters stood out to me and none disappointed. And how Fox wrote their actions, it was vividly written and I could imagine it as easily as imagining their accents and idiosyncrasies.
   We have the headstrong Jo Winter, who is determined to be independent in this transitioning decade where women are having more and more of a voice, and she herself determined to join them and pursue an education. But also Jo who is vulnerable because of the disappearance of her brother, believing herself to be the only one who knows he's alive. And then she meets Louise O'Keefe, girlfriend of Daniel Connor, the notorious gangster who replaced Al Capone when he departed for Chicago. Lou, as the alternating chapters are titled that switch between Jo and herself, is a different kind of strong than Jo. She isn't independent like Jo, but she really admires her until Danny comes into the picture. Then their seemingly amiable friendship begins to slither back and forth between genuine and fraudulent. It is only as the story unfolds further and further we see how Lou's mind works, and where her mind will end up.
   And I'd say anyone really interested in the 1920s or in a murder mystery will be immediately drawn into this world from the very first chapter. Fox just has the magical, airy way in her writing that really takes me from my world and into the one in pages. I genuinely felt like Fox was writing from her experience living in the 20s herself! She masterfully unraveled the mystery slowly yet beautifully all the way until the end. (Ugh-- the end!....) However, I would be more than happy to see where she went with this story if she were somehow to continue.
   Okay, in almost every young adult book, there's a romance at least in some way or another, and this one isn't in the minority. Charlie is Jo's love interest and yes, he is a sweetheart. I fell for him just as much as Jo did. In fact, it's probably the 1920s that made him even more noble and honorable. Because honestly, most of these characters were pretty black or white, except Lou who'd I say is a very unpredictable character. But yes, Charlie is a sweetie and is on the list of my top 10 favorite literary men. Ooo maybe I should do a list of my top literary men and women. What do you guys think? Yes, no? Alright, you convinced me, I'll get on it as soon as this review is over. ^_^
    And Jo is definitely one of my favorite protagonists. Let me rephrase that, one of my favorite female teen protagonists, because if you're an avid reader you might have some idea that young adult consists 95% on female protagonists that pretty much all sing to the same tune.
   And then this book has a murder mystery in it! From the beginning Jo has a secret. Her brother is alive, the only thing is is that she's the only one that does. Well, until Danny Connor enters her life and reveals that he too knows he's alive and demands that she tell him where he is. The suspense and intrigue just explodes from that point on, unfortunately, it's the ending that doesn't wrap up anything and leaves you open-ended. My feels are still so emotional. I think you can tell.
    Overall, I immensely and thoroughly enjoyed the book and the adventure we embark on with Jo and Lou over about the course of a month. So much happens and it gets better and more intriguing with each passing chapter. It was difficult to put the book down, and I would love to reread it (but I'll probably just skip the ending.)

I give this book 4/5 stars. As much as I wanted to give it 3 stars, I enjoyed 90% of the book, I couldn't take off 2 stars just because the ending was disappointing. 

"I am so far from being a pessimist... on the contrary, in spite of my scars, I am tickled to death at life."
-Eugene O'Neill

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Secret Garden by Paullina Simons

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   Teddy is alive. Teddy is alive. I saw Teddy across the street. I felt his hand on me. I saw Teddy mouth the words: I'll find you. Teddy saved me. Teddy brought the the scarf and medals down from the burning mansion. Only thing is-- Teddy is actually dead through it all. So when Danny was relentless and insistent that Jo's "deceased" brother was really alive-- no, he was actually dead. WHAT THE HELL! Yes, this is what ruined it for me. Even Lou and Charlie saw him outside Danny's mansion. How about that slip up! I don't like my characters to be revealed dead. This is like The Vanishing Game all over again-- except at least in the The Vanishing Game the author made sense of the big reveal. I feel cheated and tricked and so aggravated at the author for making me love a character so much that isn't even real! Ugh, this wasn't supposed to be a paranormal story. I'm really hoping I'm just ranting and I just rushed through the last chapters and completely misunderstood it. Yes, I am going to reread those chapters after finishing this review. Because apparently I missed something and I'm just so completely unsatisfied.
   Also, over the course of chapters that Lou is being interviewed by Detective Smith is held in September-- three months after the crime. Which just confuses me to a T. Is that the phrase? I don't remember, but it just gave me another argument against the ending, since it doesn't make sense why it would take three months to recover from a stab wound.
   However, this did remind me of The Vanishing Game because like in TVG, I traveled around the city and from different public places to find hidden clues to reveal this mystery and what the hidden secret was. Which I will rant on in the next paragraph.
   While I liked how the "big secret" turned out to be that Melody had a kid with Danny's brother Patrick and she was watching him from afar. But, I didn't feel as connected with Melody since she didn't appear in the book that much, and Patrick not even a quarter as much as her. It was sweet, especially when John Rushton revealed to be the boy's adpotive father and secret admirer of his mother, but like the other two, he wasn't in the story that much either. He was only placed in certain moments of suspense and I didn't feel much of a connection from him either, though I do believe he was written well. As were all the characters.
   No, correction, that wasn't the BIG SECRET "big secret," that was just a climatic moment. The big secret was that Danny was involved (in fact the benefactor) of the bombing of a bank which killed Rushton's brother that Teddy was implicated in. Patrick was the bomber (I think?) and Teddy was unknowingly preparing or simply around the ingredients to the bombs. Yeah, I think that's about right. Anyhoo, this was revealed near the end to show that Danny was in fact a bad guy (since he only talked bad and didn't do much himself but charm Jo and take care of Lou).
   Oh, there was one little part that bothered me near the end that didn't involve Teddy. It was when Lou was talking to the detective and was telling him how the story really isn't Jo's story but hers. Like, she kept pushing it in my face that that was the biggest secret in the world and she was making me believe it. Rule of writing: show don't tell. Because honestly I just disagree, I think it was Jo's story (especially when Lou was unable to move when the real stuff went down).
   Alright, let me try to clear this up. Danny held the gun to Jo, about to shoot her, when Jo turns to see wounded Lou standing with the revolver pointed to him (which doesn't make much sense since he has a gun in his hand too) and backs away saying that he "killed" them. Referring to Lou or Teddy? Because sometimes it makes sense that Teddy really is dead, but then that he isn't. But who else could have unlocked her door, fought on the boat with Danny, saved Lou right after Danny stabbed her, returned the scarf and medals to Jo? And if Danny was alone, why was he so insistent on Jo for telling him where the brother was. I mean because if he was dead, he didn't have to worry about Jo knowing. I mean she may have had the journal, but then if she did, why wait a year to start asking questions?? Honestly I just need to reread this so my questions can be answered, already knowing-- for the most part-- how this story was going to play out.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for calling out that ending! I just finished the book and found myself having the same problems with the ending myself. I just really want things explained, such as, who grabbed her arm early in the boom after she left the speakeasy if Teddy was dead? Who did she keep seeing and who was it Charlie and Lou saw if Teddy was really dead the whole time? It's driving me nuts and I just wish there were some answers. I am however glad that I wasn't the only one to have noticed these discrepancies!