- File Size: 2061 KB
- Print Length: 192 pages
- Publication Date: July 13, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B011LNFMVQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist Kindle Edition
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I love a few things deeply and intensely. The ocean. Mermaids. Women in first responder lines of work. Strong female friendships. The works of Chris Sanders, whose projects (including Disney’s Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon) have without fail delighted me. So when I found out that Jessica Steele-Sanders and Chris Sanders had combined all those into one book (with engaging, charming illustrations by Genevieve Tsai), I immediately had to have it.
As a displaced Florida resident missing family and friends on the other side of the country, I finished this story about strong female friendships, longing for the sea, and saving lives in book form, feeling more and more homesick for Florida with every page. Even if I wasn’t from Florida, and very susceptible to a deep longing for that place, Rescue Sirens would still pull me in to that desire for a South Florida sense of belonging.
The character of Kelby, who spends the story undergoing the journey to find home herself, is a pleasant person to follow on that journey. There is something so comforting about Kelby’s journey, not just to find her spiritual home in the sea that has always called to her, but to find a home, a family, a team with which to daily make the world better, safer, than it would be without them. The pull to home, the pull to find the place where you belong, is a deep and powerful pull and to see Kelby achieve it and more is a beautiful fulfillment of that wish.
All the characters, actually, are pleasant people to take the journey with. Each mermaid is distinct and motivated based on her own values and interests, valued for her eccentricities and for her competence. Pippa’s outlandish interests and childlike glee over human culture is never treated as a diminishment of her lifesaving competence. Maris, interested in appearances and achieving the high life, is still a welcoming and friendly face among the group, a supportive maker of smoothies whose drama is an expression of enthusiasm and not a detriment to the group’s unity.
So it might seem surprising when I say that one of the best aspects of the group dynamics is the conflict. There’s no cattiness or conflict for the sake of conflict, as is unfortunately common in a lot of female-populated media. Echo, the particularly confrontational mermaid, has hints at a past informing the chip on her shoulder. We don’t know all the reasons she has to stir the pot, but at least one of them is the high standards she sets for herself and others.
High standards and ambition are the hallmarks of lead mermaid Nim’s character, too. Ambitious for earned leadership and competence at her lifesaving job, Nim strives not just to be the boss, but to be the boss correctly, in the face of real stress and urgency. She encapsulates the lifeguard’s dedication and skill, the positive ambition of making the beach a safer place than it would have been without her. The book is as much about Nim achieving her leadership skills as it is about Kelby, the lost mermaid, coming home.
The story is refreshingly full of young women supporting each other, challenging each other, thinking of each other as skilled and beautiful and worthwhile. And most of all, Rescue Sirens is full of girls being a righteous emergency-responding life-saving unit. Easily my favorite aspect of Rescue Sirens: Search for the Atavist is watching them have their differences, then put them aside for the sake of the mission. Their team feels so true as a lifesaving unit, a set of competent first responders putting aside panic and differences for the sake of the mission.
The mermaids’ control over whether or not to make legs is refreshing after so much mermaid media that relies on a mermaid’s inability not to grow a tail when splashed to generate drama. There are still rules by which the mermaids must live and can be exposed, but removing the lack of choice in the matter of whether to have a tail or not gives our Rescue Sirens an agency and control that lends itself to greater adventures without losing the urgency and danger of being outed.
The setting itself is huge, open and rich with possibility for future stories. The mermaids’ anatomies are based on real local sea creatures, allowing for a range of diversity and culture through environmental zones across the ocean. The distinct tribes we might encounter in the future, the lives of other groups of Rescue Sirens on beaches across the world, creates a setting rich with magic and diversity, with life-saving magical women everywhere there are beaches to be protected, and oceans to swim in.
I’ve read Rescue Sirens: the Search for the Atavist twice since purchasing it. I will read it several more times, while I wait eagerly for more stories of this delightful world to arrive in my waiting hands.
I own two copies of this book (an original hardcover and the kindle version) and it's one of the only books I've ever read multiple times. It's got a really nice heartwarming story about a girl finding her place in life and the friends that help her get there. The writing is easy to read but still gripping, it brings to mind the style of older children's stories that became literary classics like The Hobbit. Like many stories for young readers, the twists don't come from out of left field, but the writing is handled in a way that still keeps you on the edge of your seat even for a second or third reading.
The best part of this book in my opinion is the fascinating world and mythology that Jessica came up with. She drops little details about the mermaid world and history that make you long to know more. I've had the chance to talk with Jessica on multiple occasions at conventions so I know that she's very passionate about this story and has tons of ideas about how to expand this world and in definitely excited to see what she has in store.
I can't wait until the next one!