Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: The Accidental Siren

Title: The Accidental Siren

Author: Jake Vander Ark

SPOILER FREE description (as explained here): Mara Lynn is the most beautiful girl in the world. James Parker is the ordinary boy who discovers her power.

James had his summer all planned out. He would enjoy the carefree days in the woods behind his castle home, avoid the maniacal Danny Bompensaro (and the worm-like scar on the back of his head), and shoot an epic movie with his best friend Whit. But when he meets a mysterious girl locked in a normal suburban home, his summer collapses into a beautiful nightmare that he'll never forget.

The Accidental Siren is a twisted fairytale about young love, growing up, and the frightening potential of infinite beauty.

A History of The Accidental Siren: Since its Wattpad release in 2012, The Accidental Siren has received very high praise. It has now reached over two million reads and is one of the featured books on Wattpad's homepage. Later the novel was self-published through Lulu, and it may be purchased through several other outlets. 

On the Author, Jake Vander Ark: Originally Vander Ark perused a film career  claiming he "only wanted to direct!". He soon realized that starting out, he'd need to write his own screenplays. Enjoying the process of writing so much, Vander Ark decided to continue in the form of novels. The Accidental Siren was his first published work. You can read our interview with Jake Vander Ark here!


When I snagged this book off the Kindle store, for free, I didn't really think much of it. I'd read an early version of Lighthouse Nights, another one of Vander Ark's novels, on Wattpad and gotten to know him and his writing fairly well. Or so I thought. 

This book completely surprised me. The beginning is set well, the way you'd expect it to go out (not that that's a bad thing), however it soon turns very dark. When I say dark, I don't mean murder mystery dark, but make you think and question kind of dark. 

The themes of beauty, romance, and attraction ring very true. I mean, if there truly was a girl who was beautiful beyond all others, these events aren't far-fetched. There are some truths in this novel that I didn't even want to face. Imagines of both the boys in the trees, and of Livy at Mara's window, are some that will never leave me.

Setting his main characters at the early middle schooler age puts the reader in an interesting position  along with the characters. James and Whit weren't young enough to still think girls have cooties, but they weren't old enough to be high school lust hungry men, either. As James states throughout the novel, Mara changes him. She matures him too early.

James was very intriguing. His overall journey from the boy who only wants to direct, to the boy who wants to be different, to the boy who's lost and doesn't know what to think is phenomenal. There are plenty of moments that could have made me hate James, but as the third person narrator reminds us again and again, most of this story isn't James' fault. He isn't impenetrable.

This brings me to my second point about James. I loved him most in his small moments, his vulnerable moments. There I was caught up in when Mara and James meet alone, and I found myself wondering what is James thinking about? "Mara didn't care about my weight", Vander Ark writes. It's this insecure thought, this small moment, that stuck with me.

Above all, Vander Ark is true to his characters and reality. The blurb about a real life siren might make it seem like a book which escapes real life, but in essence, it depicts this world in a much better more realistic way than many other more grounded plot-based books.

Who would I recommend it to?
Ages fifteen and up, and to anyone who likes a risky story.

Favorite quote:
"The girls stole glances at the boys, then giggled when a boy glanced back. Every girl assumed the attention was meant for them, but how could they understand that their brief exchange was not flirtation, but a trivial darting of eyes caught at the wrong moment by their snappy imagination, meant--by the boy-- as a pit stop on the way to and from the intended recipient of their affection." 

Read the book yourself? A big fan of Jake Vander Ark's? Wondering how he's been such a successful self-published author? Leave a comment below!

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