Do you remember being 14 and alone?
Did you ever feel like it was hopeless to go on?
Did you ever wish you could get revenge on everyone who hurt you?
Do you know what it's like to feel human?
Sarah Porter's debut novel, Lost Voices, features a 14-year-old . . . human. Her name is Luce. And she thought she gave up.
Instead of dying after jumping off a cliff, she became a mermaid.
And this is no Ariel, and no Emily Windsnap.
This is the dark side of mermaids. These mermaids sing sailors to their deaths. These mermaids sink ships.
But can you really be alone when you're surrounded by others like you?
All these mermaids have suffered. They've all been hurt, abused, damaged, torn apart by the human world. And so they wreak their revenge on those who sail by. Their voices are so beautiful, they inspire people to jump off ships and drown themselves.
Luce understands suffering, but her beloved father drowned on a boat nearby. That was the real beginning of her trouble. She doesn't know if she should sing people to their deaths, no matter what atrocities they've committed. She wants to know if maybe she can do something else with the power of her voice, but none of the others are interested in anything but killing the evil humans.
Luce retreats more and more from the others, especially as new mermaids join them, trying to find her voice. The voice she lost as a human, but gained as a mermaid. All mermaids have enchanting voices, but some are more so than others. Some, however, do not understand what it means to be human or mermaid.
The mermaids Luce is surrounded by are ruled by a queen, Catalina. She is the most talented singer, and therefore their natural leader. She has them stick to the timahk, the code of mermaids. There are certain rules, such as 1) never hurt another mermaid, and 2) never let a human who sees you stay alive. These are the most important.
None of the mermaids are very old. They're all young, some so young they cannot survive. Those too young are referred to as larvae; they usually get eaten by orcas. I would imagine quite a few mermaid larvae around the coasts of places like China, where baby girls are often left to die.
Catalina's tribe, however, thrives off the coast of Alaska. Everything seems to be going fine, until they sing Anais from death to her new life as a mermaid.
Anais hasn't suffered. Her life has been shiny, full of designer clothes and yachts. She thinks life as a mermaid is boring, and convinces many of the others to sink ships solely to gain the human's loot. Soon they have all sorts of things they can't use, such as sandals and a flat-screen TV.
Luce retreats more and more as Anais gains influence and finds solace only in her voice.
But maybe her voice is all she really needs. Her voice, and the music of the ocean, the rocks, the wind, and the waves.
So many girls die unwanted; so many voices are lost. Maybe all you need to feel real is to find your voice, even if it is only echoed by rocks and wind.