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Sirena Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Donna Jo Napoli thoughtfully and poetically reexamined the story of Hansel and Gretel from the witch's point of view in The Magic Circle. Here, she retells the Greek myth of the Sirens, whose sweet, beckoning singing caused countless shipwrecks. But did the Sirens (who Napoli imagines as mermaids) really mean for the sailors to perish? Or were these sultry singers cursed themselves? In Napoli's tale, because they are half-human, the 10 Sirens are doomed to lead short mortal lives--unless they can convince men to become their mates. But after witnessing a shipwreck in which the survivors kill one of her sisters, 17-year-old Sirena decides she would rather lose her chance at eternal life than trick a human into loving her. She vows to live alone on "an island where the first rays of sun bring sight to blind eyes.... I am going there to find new sight. I will wipe from my brain the sights I have seen and start over." Little does she know that due to a jealous goddess, a sea-serpent bite, and a dead hero, a man will come to her island and love her for herself, not just her song. Sirena is the perfect teenage heroine--questioning authority and falling in love no matter what the consequences. In creating this beautiful story, Napoli brings mythology alive for today's young adults. (Ages 12 to 15) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like its mermaid heroine, this uneven novel is something of a hybrid: a romantic fantasy imposed atop a classical legend. A lengthy, even laborious set-up invents a genealogy for mermaids within Greek mythology (at least, this appears invented; there are no source notes). Offered immortality if they can win a man's love, Sirena's mermaid sisters use their silvery voices to lure sailors to them even though it will cause the sailors certain death. Sirena, however, exiles herself from this grim mating game and winds up on the island of Lemnos. There she meets the Greek warrior Philoctetes (the subject of a famous play by Sophocles). True to the legend, this Philoctetes has been abandoned by his crew mates because of a snake bite?but instead of spending the next 10 years letting his wounds fester, per the Sophoclean model, this hero falls in love with an equally adoring Sirena. She becomes immortal, a gift that she does not want in light of her lover's inability to share it, and then she must yield him up when fate calls upon him to reenter the Trojan War. Napoli (Song of the Magdalene) is at her best when she compares Philoctetes's and Sirena's points of view about subjects like honor, but the bulky apparatus she constructs overwhelms the writing. The atmosphere is surprisingly arid, and the language slides dangerously between the stuff of high drama and pulp romance. There are better romantic YA novels built on Greek myth (e.g., Doris Orgel's The Princess and the God); for mermaid lore see Mary Pope Osborne's Mermaid Stories from Around the World. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; 1st edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590383892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590383899
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Sirena is a mermaid, a siren. One of fifty of her kind, the result of a rape (Eros the god of love and lust and a parrot fish) she is a creature of the gods, but not immortal. However, her sisters and her can become immortal if a man loves them. To help them with this they were given the gift of song.

The Trojan War approaches and more ships come by their rocky homes. They sing for the men to come to them, but the men drown or die on the rocky islands which have no food or water on them. Sirena is disgusted and saddened by the deaths, but her sisters don't care as long as they become immortal.

So she leaves and decides to forever live alone. But on the island where she decides to live a man is abandoned for ten long years, and a mermaid who thought she could only seduce becomes aware that true love does exists after all.

This is beautiful, sad and the way mythology should always be told. You can only hope when you finish it that our lovers are reunited someday somehow.

Five stars.
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By Melanie on December 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Sirena" was yet another great novel by Napoli, and one of her best! Napoli always manages to take a story we all know something about, this time the legendary Greek sirens, and turn it into something special.
Sirena, a young mermaid, half human and half fish, lives with her many sisters when they are told something important: if they can get a human man to love them, they will become immortal. However, when Sirena sees many shipwrecked men die, she wonders if immortality is worth a loss of life.
When tragedy strikes, Sirena swims away to the island of Lemnos where she finds an abandoned Greek soldier. Will they fall in love, and will Sirena become immortal?
This book was excellent, and I'd recommend it for ages 12 and up. Be sure to read Napoli's other works, especially "Song of the Magdalene"!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback

That was the word that came to my mind when I finished reading this book: wow! Usually I am not fond of the use of either first person narrative or present tense in the writing of a book, but in this instance I was willing to make a huge exception. So great is Donna Jo Napoli's writing skill that she not only made both of these narration methods work, but more importantly, she made them work really well--something rarely accomplished by the majority of authors.

The thing I liked most about the book was that Ms Napoli totally managed to get inside the psyche of the mermaid Sirena--and did so so perfectly that you'd almost think she must be a mermaid herself! The realism of not only this character, but also the other characters, animals, plants and scenery is amazing. In fact, this book is so utterly believable that you might even find yourself suspecting that the gods, goddesses, nymphs and legendary heroes of Greek mythology who regularly pop up in it really do exist.

The plot in this book seems simple--a mermaid must win the love of a mortal man to claim her right to immortality. But in this premise's simplicity is a depth and complexity that astounded me. Either this author was extremely knowledgeable about Greek mythology to begin with (because there's way more stuff in here than you'll ever learn just by watching 'Troy' or 'Clash of the Titans') or she's done her research meticulously. It's kind of like a Greek history/geography lesson, but a million times more fun! You will probably want to set sail for Greece right away, just like I do, to see for yourself the glorious places that this book describes.

Sirena herself is a wonderful character whom you can't help but empathise with.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am slightly disappointed by author Donna Jo Napoli.

I had heard a lot of reviews praising "Sirena" and couldn't wait to read it; when I finally did so, I was slightly let down.

This book does not have the magic of many of Napoli's other books, and its story is not as captivating.

The plot sounds engaging at first; Sirena is a siren, cursed to be lonely and mortal unless she can find a man who will love her. Only then can she become immortal. However, she realizes too soon that her one gift for winning men, her seductive song, only leaves them either dead or angry. How can she ever find a human that will truly love her, when she is little more than a cursed hybrid?

The book starts out okay, too...but about halfway through we start realizing that there's not really much to the story. Most of the book is spent on the island of Lemnos, where not much happens and we are just sort of dragged through a muddy plotline. Sirena's whole point of living--her quest to find a man to love her-- covers very little of the book, and once she gains immortality, there's really not anywhere else to go. The book covers many years and after a while the chapters just turn into random events that happen to Sirena and her lover. The end is not satisfying, either; perhaps if the book were a little more interesting, I would have been truly sad for our heroine. As it is though, it just lets you down even more. The reader knows that their romance will not be able to work out in the end; love is hard between a mortal man and an immortal mermaid; but the ending is still rather awfully put.

However, I did like the concept or the siren who does not wish to destroy...it gives a new meaning to the "merciless" seductresses.
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