"Wake" (St. Martin's Griffin), by Amanda Hocking
Hot off her best-selling Trylle Trilogy about a troll princess forced to choose between parents from rival kingdoms, Amanda Hocking switches course for a new series about sirens based on the aquatic creatures from Greek mythology that lured sailors with their beauty and hypnotic voices.
Gemma Fisher is a high school junior whose passion for swimming gets her noticed by the mysterious trio of Penn, Lexi and Thea, who have arrived in the quaint Maryland seaside community of Capri. One night the girls drug and then initiate Gemma into their group.
When several people in Capri go missing, Gemma's older sister, Harper, worries when Gemma doesn't come home. Harper and her budding love interest, Daniel, find her on the beach, wrapped in a shawl made of netting. Disoriented and scraped all over, Gemma discovers she has special powers, including the ability to heal quickly, swim even faster and enchant men with her hypnotic voice. But these new powers come with a deadly price, and as Gemma learns what she has become, she must choose between her family and her siren sisters.
"Wake," Hocking's first book with an established publisher, is told from the perspectives of Gemma and Harper. Their strong but contrasting personalities -- Gemma is carefree and athletic while Harper is academic and uptight -- make for an interesting read.
However, because the book is geared to a teen audience, Hocking's storytelling may seem unsophisticated to older fans of young adult fiction. Her rambling and irrelevant dialogue is at times frustrating and does not advance the plot.
Hocking also offers story lines that leave readers hanging. Gemma and Harper's mother, Nathalie, lives in a group home after suffering a brain injury in a car accident. She suffers from memory loss and acts like a teenager. The girls visit her every weekend but their dockworker dad refuses to accompany them. These visits don't amount to anything. Nathalie is too far gone to impart maternal words of wisdom, and there is no hint that she will recover.
Hocking provides a sufficient story befitting the popular mermaid trend. Although written as a modern tale, she cleverly pokes fun at Homer and pays tribute to the ancient gods and goddesses of Greek mythology.
"Lullaby," Hocking's second installment of the Watersong series, will be available Nov. 27.