By Tricia Rayburn
Available now from Egmont
Back in June, my grandparents and I drove from Texas to North Dakota using a roundabout route in order to sightsee. With four days in the car, I was reading plenty of books. In my day to day life, I often put books down for various reasons - need to go to class, need to make dinner, need to write an essay, and so forth. But in the car, on a road trip, I'm a fairly captive audience.
I put SIREN down a lot.
First, I don't like the title. One of the things Tricia Rayburn works hard at is to create a haunting atmosphere, a dread of the unknown that's tying the creepy events in Vanessa Sands's life together. Unfortunately, we all know sirens are responsible since it is the title of the book. I know authors don't usually get to choose their title, but I wish someone had said something along the way.
As for the relationships . . . I liked the ones that got elaborated least. Vanessa makes friends with Paige, a local waitress, while searching for a place to hang out while she mourns. Paige has issues with her gorgeous and abrupt older sister Zara, which always prick at Vanessa since she's keeping it a secret from her new friends that she's the younger sister of the drowned girl.
Justine, Vanessa's sister, just made out with Caleb and was planning to go to Dartmouth. As Vanessa discovers after her death, she was in love with Caleb and never applied to Dartmouth. (Seriously, I'd love to read more about Justine and Caleb's secret life together. I bought them way more than I did Vanessa and Simon, but of course the book starts with Justine's death.) Vanessa, like most siblings, didn't know as much as she thought about her older sister.
Rayburn pulls off a neat twist with Vanessa's narration. Halfway through, various characters enlighted the reader to the fact that Vanessa isn't very self-aware. I like that realization of the limits of first person point-of-view. That's also the end of the slowest parts of SIREN, but the revelations become rather abrupt. Rayburn builds and builds (and builds) only to suddenly throw answers to questions that weren't even asked at the reader.
SIREN wasn't terrible. It was a decent paranormal, even with the obvious sequel-baiting at the end. But I read it after finishing a couple of great paranormals, and it really paled in comparison. Rayburn's YA debut (she wrote the MG Maggie Bean series) is full of interesting concepts, but the execution is sloppy. SIREN wasn't the engrossing horror/mystery it wanted to be.