REVIEW: Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman

REVIEW: Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie ZamanSirenz (Sirenz #1) by Charlotte Bennardo, Natalie Zaman
Published: Flux (2011), ARC, 288pg
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Source: BEA 2011


Summary:

Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes-with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they’ve done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

Finding that delicate balance between their fashion addiction and their new part-time job in the eternal hellfire biz turns out to be harder than Meg and Shar expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there’s the matter of the fine print in their own contracts… (from Amazon)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

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I feel really bad for not liking this book more, because the authors were SO nice at BEA and I really wanted to enjoy reading their book. The basic premise of the book is okay– I mean, I like Greek mythology and it’s done in an interesting/up-to-date way in Sirenz, so that’s nice. Also, it’s set in NYC and there’s fashion things and, really, it’s not a terrible book. It’s not. It’s just also really confusing.

I think the problem stems from the fact that a) it’s got a heavy emphasis on fashion, and b) it’s also trying to be a paranormal romance/action/friendship is awesome! book. For the most part, it’s cute and funny and it’s totally a beach read. I mean, it got a SHOE on the cover! However, it’s also not your stereotypical paranormal romance while at the SAME TIME being a stereotypical shoe-on-the-cover book. And that made it a bit confusing.

Author Charlotte Bennardo

Sirenz is, I think, trying to go a slightly different direction from other paranormal romance-y books. Normally the romance is between a human girl and a paranormal dude, right? And it’s all sexy and amazing and everyone totally wants to date a vampire, right? Because it’s awesome!

In Sirenz, the romance between Hades (the paranormal dude) and Shar (the human girl) is at first presented as something sexy and awesome and your standard paranormal romance. But then it does something different– it actually shows the different mindsets between a paranormal person and a human person. When you’re not human it’s a little silly to think you’d act entirely like a human would, or that you’d think like a human. It’s especially silly when you’re a Greek god who’s used to banging anyone you want without consequences or, y’know, permission from the person you’re banging.

Author Natalie Zaman
And this is shown in the book! After the first flush of Awesome Romance, Hades starts sexually harassing and stalking Shar, and then blaming her for his actions because apparently she’s so hot he can’t help himself. Luckily Sirenz doesn’t try to sugar coat that fuckery and in fact it condemns Hades (and everyone else who thinks it’s cool for him to do that) for being seriously messed up.

Yay.

However, despite the fact that the romance is condemned, nothing is said about Meg and Shar’s siren situation (beyond the fact that it wasn’t cool that the gods were manipulating them into doing their dirty work, I mean). I think, with all the effort that was put into discrediting the stalker romance, something should have been said about how fucked up the siren situation was, too.

Why? Because Meg and Shar are being punished for their personalities, which is fucked. up. Meg’s self-assured and bossy (future CEO, anyone?), and so her punishment is that she can’t talk to people without enchanting them. Shar’s naturally flirtatious and beautiful, so she can’t look at dudes without enchanting them. But none of those things are BAD and they definitely aren’t things people need to be punished for!

I think what was trying to be shown was that the things Meg and Shar are being punished for are things that are flaws, at least in the eyes of the gods (who do tend to punish people for being too pretty, now that I think about it). But it came off instead as victim-blaming, especially in Shar’s case. At one point I think someone even said that Shar was being punished for wanting guys’ attention, which is just…really disgusting, actually.

I wish Sirenz had made a bigger point of showing how that part of the enchantment was fucked-up, especially since it did such a good job of showing the fucked-up part of a paranormal romance. I think it would have been a stronger book if it had, and the lesson about how people don’t deserve to be stalked/raped/punished just for being pretty or assertive would have been even more complete.

Anyway, despite my issues with the stuff mentioned above, it still isn’t a bad book. Meg’s romance was cute, and the relationship between Persephone and her mom was really funny. On the whole, Sirenz sort of felt like Confessions of a Shopaholic mixed with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, with the Shopaholic side stronger than the Percy side. It’s not perfect, and I wish it had been just a little bit more aggressive about not blaming the girls for their predicament, but it’s a decent way to spend a few hours on the beach, I guess.

Read: July 16, 2011

I hope I explained my problems with the way Char and Meg were treated in a non-confusing way! It’s just such a weird situation.

I don’t think the authors are intentionally trying to victim-blame anyone, and they DID do the whole thing with Hades being a douche. But at the same time part of their promo campaign is a whole “Hades is hot” (or Haute) thing, which…what? Yeah, he’s hot, but he’s also a cheating, stalking, sexually harassing, almost-rapist! They condemned him in the book; why are they also promoting him as someone to fangirl over?

No one else is talking about these issues in any of the reviews I’ve read. Am I insane? Does no one else see the problem with promoting a stalker as a desirable bedmate?

One Comment

  1. Lol, a mix of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Confessions of Shopaholic? That actually sounds interesting 😛 Too bad there were too many issues that were difficult to gloss over!! And, I’m coming across lots of books now-a-days where I get these confused mixed messages…like what you were saying about how the guy is ultra hot and wants to protect you versus he’s actually really creepy and stalker-ish. What am I (and fangirls out there) supposed to think?? And sometimes I get those kinds of vibes from books that others are just gushing over and I don’t get why I’m the only one who thinks this way (like when I read East by Edith Pattou). So, you’re probably not the only one who thinks this way,

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