Saturday, 12 October 2013

Silent Echo by Elisa Freilich

*ARC from NetGalley-much thanks!

Published: September 10th 2013
Publisher: Diversion Books
Website: Author’s Website

For 16 years, Portia Griffin has been mute. Her best friend is Felix, a deaf boy, and together they overcome communication obstacles to lead normal lives. On the first day of school she meets the new boy, Max Hunter, a genius musician. Then she discovers that her voice has returned, only it comes with the terrible power to entrance and seduce. Before she is poisoned by the evil of her heritage, the Greek gods step in to help before Portia ruins her reputation and her love life.  

I’ve read Bullfinch's Mythology by choice in high school because, obviously, I am enamoured by mythology. There are some extra bits thrown in, some new names, some new sons of Gods. To make this a work of fiction, new history will have to be written. However, the author also messes with established lore. When the author made sirens Goddesses my heart felt a little bit like it was stabbed with a butter knife. Additionally, it killed me how useless all the other gods are.
I did like how the author made sirens not like mermaids, but a classical siren with wings. This is refreshing, as popular YA fiction tends to make this formula: mermaid=siren, and some try to make them both fish tailed and winged, and it doesn’t always work.
Also, I thoroughly enjoyed how the gods are portrayed in the real world. It focused too much on technology and how old they were, but nonetheless, the reader gets to see how gods live among humans, or not.

Main Character
Portia Griffin is mute, and likes music and birds. Yet she doesn’t have much of a personality, other than “nice”. She has some rapid personality changes. Though these changes are cringe-worthy, and you’ll hate her as a character, they are integral to the story. Unfortunately, once she gets her voice, I wanted her to shut up because the dialogue was terrible. Yes, she is a teenage girl. No, not every teenager is vapid and unable to speak. Her introduction with the gods is so forced. Like, hey, I’m totally a normal girl, and it’s not like I’ve been taking an entire class on Greek mythology, so I’m totally going to mess this up all over the place. Don’t take me seriously, please, k? I’m just going to make a joke of myself because god-oh, sorry, gosh!-I totally don’t know what’s going on.  
Love Story
It’s another one of those stock stories where everyone is in love with the heroine. In this case, she is a siren, and it is in her nature to seduce with her voice. Alright. But before this a love triangle forms with the best friend and the new love interest. (This happens so early on that it isn’t even a spoiler.) Like with Bella Swan, everyone loves her because. They just do and the reader has to get over it. Sure she’s “nice”, but so is everyone else in her school. At one point the reader hears that another girl is “nice” but it isn’t enough. Oh, it isn’t enough in this other girl’s case? How fair.   
The love interest is an unexpected explosion of fireworks in the middle of a mall. Everyone around is thinking, Yeah, this is nice, I guess…but why is it happening? They love-love each other within days. Sure, this happens in real life, and it is dumb. Sorry, but it is. It’s difficult to expect a reader to care about their relationship.   

Lyrics, Poetry, Music
A lot of the rhyming is simplistic. I understand that the author had to write a small selection of original poetry for this book, and all poetry is subjective. I just can’t get over how terrible some of the rhymes are. This book focuses on lyrical poetry and music heavily, and I feel that more effort should have been put into it.
I detest Portia’s rapping. Max sings songs that are modern and are not raps…though that hardly makes them tolerable. Here are some versus:
“I’m Mario Andretti,
I’m stuck on the course,
And you, baby, are the Grand Prix.” (This doesn’t even rhyme…not even half rhymes)

“And what about Krispy Kreme-
Why can’t it just be
That iced, glazed, and sprinkled
Has one calorie?” (And this…isn’t grammatically correct)

Aside from the horrendous lyrics, the writing is alright. The deepest pits of my soul are glowing because this book is in the third-person, not the first-person. Why is everyone so fixated on reading first-person narratives? Is it because first-person narratives are easier to write, so authors are producing them, making readers accustomed to this type of narrative? /Rant.  
This book is too long, and yet crucial moments, like when Portia regains her voice, are skimmed over. Why, book, why?!
The book uses the word “Forasmuch” meaning: “in view of the fact that”.  This book might win the new award I just made up for weird words that are words but no one uses for a reason. 


It is an alright book: it has some mythology and some originality. It is too long and the lyrics are painful. The premise was compelling and I find muteness interesting and a topic that I have not explored much. I recommend it to teens who are into mythology, but not fanatics about it because the changes might drive them away. 

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