Storm Siren

by Mary Weber

Reviewed by Adam Armstrong

There is a notion that the future generation will change the world for the better. They'll be able to see the mistakes of the current generation and make better choices. While I have faith in the younger generations and their power, especially their anger they feel as they realize the world isn't what they've come to believe, I think they can change the world now, while they are still young.

Nym has spent the majority or her seventeen years as a slave. She goes from one owner to the next leaving a path of destruction in her wake. Nym is an elemental, a being that can harness and use the elements to cause tremendous damage. Only Nym has no control over her powers, often killing others accidentally or through her rage. Nym is put on the auction block once more and is pushed harder than ever in front of a crowd. Her powers manifest for the world to see, but they lead to an advantage for the first time in her life as they knock her out.

Nym wakes up to find that she has been purchased by a proper lady who has put her up, in what appears to Nym, a palace. The Lady Adora, Nym's new owner, knows exactly what Nym is and she wants to harness Nym's powers to help fight a war that is raging through the three kingdoms. Nym is a very rare creature indeed, an elemental and the only female at that. Adora gives her the choice of joining with her or being executed. Not much of a choice. Nym meets the handsome Eogan, and the handsome Colin, two other teens with special powers (and a predictable dual attraction to her). Eogan begins to teach her how to control her powers the way he has taught Colin.

As Nym gradually begins to control her powers (realizing just how powerful she is), she quickly sees that she is going to be used as a weapon for killing. Nym tries to escape only to find that she and Colin are forced to use their powers to defend themselves. Nym sees that she can use her powers without killing and decides to come back and fight for the kingdom only to see betrayal all around her. She doesn't know who to trust, or who to turn to. But one thing is for certain, with her powers, there aren't many who can stop her.

There was an article in Slate magazine recently about adults being ashamed of reading YA fiction. Specifically for treating YA fiction the way one would treat literature. While I don't disagree with many of the points that were made in the article, I don't like the idea of shaming anyone for reading. The same thing was said about science fiction years ago and now quite a bit of it has made it to required reading lists in schools. 

Mary Weber's writing may not make it onto required reading lists anytime soon but there is no need to be ashamed of it. There are some bumps here and there and sometimes the writing comes off as clumsy as a teenager, but Weber knows her audience well. The novel contains the usual clichés that are in YA fiction aimed at girls: love triangles, looking at oneself in the mirror frequently, all the good guys are beautiful, and all the bad guys are ugly. I think these clichés being omnipresent in YA has more to do more with audience demands/expectations than any fault of the authors. Though Weber did sidestep these clichés a bit by having the protagonist have a slight deformity and having something that little girls tend to love, horses in this case, be bloodthirsty meat eaters.

The author shows a real talent for world building, giving us a well fleshed out world with realistic hierarchy and politics. There was also a limitation, or cost, to the magic used. Giving characters powers clearly defined rules always makes for a better read than having them do anything that the situation requires. The novel could have done without the pulp type ending. As an adult I found it annoying, but as a teenager I probably would have found it cool. 

If you’re a teenager, especially a girl, and are into dystopian/fantasy novels, Storm Siren is worth checking out. It is the first book in a trilogy so there are more adventures of Nym and her friends to come. Perhaps this will be the next Hunger Games or Divergent. If you're an adult who like reading YA, no need to be ashamed. You'll find a rich, fully developed world with well fleshed out characters populating it.