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The Accidental Siren Paperback – February 25, 2015
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"Written in beautiful prose, The Accidental Siren warns of the perils of obsession. The setting is described using flawless metaphors that paint James's world in the reader's mind. The plot becomes more haunting with every chapter, effectively dragging the reader deeper into the story with every twist and turn." -Blogcritics.org
From the Back Cover
Mara Lynn is the most beautiful girl in the world. James Parker is the ordinary boy who discovers her power.
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So when Goodreads recommended Lighthouse Nights, I thought it sounded really good and saw that it was in a series so I looked at the rest of the books and couldn’t see how they were related but the second book in the series really caught my eye. So I went to Amazon and saw it was free and decided to try it out before I read the others. FYI – you don’t need to read the series in order or all the books at all. Although the first two were really good.
So good, in fact, that I have no idea how to go about writing this review. Have you ever read a book that was really, really good and you wanted to tell everyone to read it but when they asked you what it was about, you had no way of telling them anything about it and instead insisted that it was just one of those books you have to go into knowing nothing about? No? I’m just weird? Alright. Well, this is one of those for me.
Basically, this book is about a boy named James living in Michigan in 1994. It’s told through James’ perspective, but not 12 year old James. Instead, it’s 22 year old James living across the country writing the book about himself and the summer he met Mara Lynn. It gives the book a more adult spin and he can allude to things that are going to happen to build suspense (like that damn carnival) while still having James’ voice which was incredibly unique and made the book really interesting.
The summer of ’94, James and his best friend, Whitney, who he joked was both cursed with a girl’s name and by being wheelchair bound, had a plan: they were going to make a movie. The only problem is that early on in the summer, the neighborhood bully swindles James and Whit out of the camera James was going to use to film in it exchange for a naked picture (boys) and the have to get a new one.
Luckily, an old woman in their town has advertised a camera she’s selling in the newspaper and James went over to buy it from her. Enter Mara Lynn. Everything changes.
I was glad to see her leave, but at the same time, I wanted to grab her hand and never let go.
“I’ll ask you again, Jaaaames,” said the woman. “What do you think of my niece?”
“I think she’s rotten.”
“Do you feel a sickness in your chest?”
“Yes.” I meant it.
The corners of her smile crept through a murk of liver marks. “Good. Enjoy your new camera.”
I know, everything changes is such a cliche in romance books, especially YA books, but this one really meant it. The course of James’ summer took a sinister turn after he met 12 year old Mara Lynn in a way that he, and the reader, could have never expected.
The book is relatively short but the chapters were long which made it feel a lot longer than it was and it wrapped up in a way that was horrifying and also made me just want more. And so seeing this made me beyond excited (we’re ignoring the fact that it’s close to 2 years old, I’ll take any hope I can get).
My only real problem with this book was that it was so good that when I finished it, I moved on to read Lighthouse Nights and while it was just as gripping and original, I spent the entire time waiting for someone from this book to show up since they were set in the same place and it just felt like it wasn’t as good because I kept comparing it to this one. Jake’s writing style is both really good and really different across the books in a way that’s almost jarring.
While not overly explicit, this book did have some violence and language that might not be appropriate or younger readers.
It's suspenseful, although not in the first couple of chapters. It picks up quickly and becomes a real page-turner, with plot twists and turns. The words melancholy and bittersweet--but hopeful--come to mind. Parts of it are disturbing, and there is one scene involving a pet that almost made me want to stop reading, but it was integral to the plot and not just a gratuitously violent event, and I was invested in the story and enjoying the writing so much that the thought about possibly stopping was just a fleeting one.
There was something that I didn't like about the book, but it was very personal to my own experiences growing up. The characters' experiences of bullying, some emotionally abusive and sexist elements, the dynamic of being popular and well-liked versus different, misunderstood, and at times feeling powerless, were triggers that brought me back to some traumatic elements of my own adolescence. But that also shows how well-developed and realistic-feeling the characters are, and how engrossing the story is. I'm glad it didn't stop me from finishing the book. I would have missed out on the experience of adding another beautifully written and moving story to my favorites shelf.
It is the kind of book that is slow in aspects, but super quick in other parts of the novel. A lot of the themes revolve around the concept of beauty, jealousy and obsession. The characters undergo growth --every last one of them-- and there is little in common from the beginning of the character to the end. Loyalties are tested, battles are fought, but the true villain belongs to the girl who causes it all. We watch the characters fall apart, change for the worse, go at great lengths for her.
The characters are a great mix. None of them are brainless, and the protagonist, James, is possibly my favourite of them all. He has true morals, and a clear consequence for his actions and reactions. Different races, ages and personalities are reflected in this book, with no character seen as one-dimensional.
Some of the novel was a little too quick, in my opinion, while others felt rushed. However, the last chapter was absolutely perfect; hauntingly so. The effect never wears off. No matter where the characters run, the effect of Mara Lynn will remain. It will follow them forever, this obsession.