YA Weekend: Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Series: Book #1 of The Storm Siren Trilogy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins (August 19, 2014)
Tiara’s Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Narrator: Christine Stevens | Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Thomas Nelson | Whispersync Ready: Yes
In Storm Siren, we meet Nym, a young slave girl who has been sold fourteen times. Nym is an Elemental, a person who can summon the elements. However, she doesn’t know how to control them, which often leads to her unleashing them when she’s emotionally charged. She possesses the telltale signs of an Elemental, the white hair and unearthly blue eyes along with the powers. She shouldn’t exist, though, as all Elementals are born male. However, despite being female, her looks still make people uneasy.
Nym is carted off by her fifteenth owner, an eccentric woman named Adora, who wants to use Nym as a weapon in the war against another kingdom that is technologically superior to the kingdom of Faelen. She promises to provide Nym with the means to learn to control her power by providing a tutor while telling Nym that her only other alternative is death, which Nym has contemplated. Preying on Nym’s protective, caring, penitent nature, she tells Nym that defending Faelen would make up for all the death and destruction that she has caused in the lives of others. Nym takes the offer because she wants to learn to control her powers, and she does want to protect her home and its people regardless of the hardship she’s faced.
How do I describe how I feel about this book? This book caused much internal debate as I tried to figure out that out. I can’t say I ever connected with this book, but there were things that I liked about this. There were also things I really loathed about this. Some slight spoilers after the jump (YMMV), mainly because I think I used this review to process my feelings about this book. Also because I am curmudgeonly… and like gifs…
I liked the idea of Nym, who is fairly straightforward and rebellious, being pushed into this world of political intrigue and having to learn to navigate this cutthroat affair. I love court intrigue, but I did wish it had been more fully-formed in this story, especially since there is a war being waged. The magic of the story was fascinating as we learn that Elementals aren’t the only magical beings that exist. I especially loved the idea of the Luminescent. This short summary from the book of their abilities piqued my interest: “Luminescents see on a spectrum. The more decided a person’s intentions, the clearer they become. And the stronger that person’s motivation is, supposedly the easier they are to predict.”
The main cast of characters brought out varied feelings in me. It took Nym a while to grow on me, mainly because every 30 seconds I was reading about how gifted she was but how she felt cursed topped off with the attitude whip cream and the angst cherry. I guess the obsessive, attitude-riddled, angsty nature of Nym’s personality is probably typical of a seventeen year old. However, I really felt for Nym’s struggle with her powers and how she felt she had to atone for the bad things that happened because of her powers. I thought Weber captured her pain and struggle there well. I appreciated Nym’s protective nature, too. She tries to distance herself because her feelings fuel her powers, but she can’t help caring about others, especially those who can’t defend themselves.
I liked Breck, Adora’s blind servant who has a healthy love of food and shows some intuition where people and situations are concerned. The all-knowing, all-seeing blind girl (the Blind Seer trope, but again, as with most things in this book, not fully realized) might turn some people off because it’s so typical, but I thought Breck was a joy and wished there’d been more time to develop her.
With Breck, we have her twin, Colin. In their country, children gifted with Colin’s ability to manipulate the earth are always born with a twin. One is gifted and one is cursed. Nym asks early in the story which is which in Breck and Colin’s case. Colin made me roll my eyes so much while he repeatedly kissed his biceps and talked about his “magnificence.” There was something that felt somewhat immersion breaking about him in the beginning. Maybe because he talked liked your every day dudebro. There was an abundance of moments like this:
“What? She can’t kill me!” Colin scoffs. He shoots a smile my way and kisses one of his biceps. “Can’t kill magnificence.”
Which had me sitting here like this:
However, I thought Colin’s excitement craving bounciness was adorable, so it was hard for me not to like him in the end.
I didn’t like Adora. I know we’re not supposed to like Adora, but I didn’t dislike Adora because she’s antagonistic. I disliked Adora because she’s just some cardboard, mustache twirling mean crone that gets a cheap loathing reaction. There’s no depth to her, nothing truly memorable–except that she colors her hair outrageous colors and she throws memorable parties. She could’ve been a force, an antagonist that I would remember to years to come as a character I love to hate. All the ingredients were there to make Adora shine in her role, and then, she just doesn’t.
Eogan. I had sort of mixed feelings about his character. On one hand, I really liked him and wanted to know why he was so enigmatic. On the other hand, I got a little tired of the hot and cold, the nice jerk routine. However, as the story marched on, I settled into being mostly okay with him. He sounded cute, though, so I’ll give him a pass. Overall, I thought all these characters had the potential to be characters I really loved or really hated. There just needed to be more time exploring different aspects of their personality.
However, despite what I did enjoy about the story, all this was overshadowed by the “romance” portion of the story, which is some weird love rhombus involving Adora, Eogan, Nym, and Colin. It’s a typical case of the girl wanting Mr. Nice Nasty rather than the doting Mr. Nice Guy while the evil old crone wants Mr. Nice Nasty for herself and isn’t beyond threatening bodily harm against women she sees as threats. It got old for me fast.
I wanted to hear more about the world, the characters, the different magic in the world, and get a solid story about Nym becoming Sorceress Supreme. Instead, I’m treated to page after page of that drama while the main plot starts to falter behind this romance. How can you expect me to care about Faelen and the plight of these people when I keep reading about ALL THE FEELINGS?
Even though there were some passages that tried to dredge up something like care about the people and what’s going on, it was easy to forget there was a war going on for most of the book. I’m not given the opportunity to care about these people or this war, and too much of the world feels flaky and shallow because of that. Weber glosses over things that could’ve really gripped me in favor of padding the romance even more.
At first, I thought I would rate this a 2.5, which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s a middling rating that, for me, says, “This was okay, but it could’ve been much better.” I went back and thought about this story, though, because it just felt like I should think a little more on what I did like about the story and how it balanced out against my feelings about what I didn’t like. I wanted to be fair to this book because I was excited about the premise and I thought I might’ve been overly critical.
After thinking about it, I conceded to myself that the ending along with Weber’s writing, which was achingly beautiful in some scenes, and some of the brilliance that pushed through I truly liked. I liked the little bit of the world I did get to see. The war conflict was solid and played with some elements I thought were wonderful, even if I felt they weren’t explored. The idea of old world magic versus new world technology was intriguing. With that said, I would’ve really liked to have explored Bron’s technological war advances more. Nym’s plight, her pain, I cared about. I loved the whole idea behind this story. There’s a fount of great concepts here, but I just didn’t think it was executed extremely well. So, I bumped the rating up just a little with that in mind.
In the end, though, the romance soured me a bit because that could’ve been time spent exploring the world and characters more. I don’t hate romance as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the overall story–barring the book isn’t a romance to begin with. This book just felt less about a story of a girl learning to control her powers, a girl atoning for past mistakes, to stop a war and more like a romance that everything else was secondary to. I wasn’t invested in the romance portion of this at all. The only compliment that I can give the romance is that it was a slow burn throughout the story rather than a rushed hookup.
Will I read the next book? Absolutely, I can’t just stop after it ended on that note. (And by the time this posts, I should be done with the second book and have a review waiting in the wings.) Hopefully, I’ll get more world/character building in this next book along with the romance. I’m optimistic that this will get better.
More reviews of this series: Storm Siren (review by Mogsy)