Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: SILENT ECHO by Elisa Freilich

SILENT ECHO by Elisa Freilich 

Publisher: Diversion Books

ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Dannie says: Not for me. More below.

Rendered mute at birth, Portia Griffin has been silent for 16 years. Music is her constant companion, along with Felix, her deaf best friend who couldn t care less whether or not she can speak. If only he were as nonchalant about her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.

But Portia s silence is about to be broken with the abrupt discovery of her voice, unparalleled in its purity and the power it affords to control those around her. Able to persuade, seduce and destroy using only her voice, Portia embarks on a search for answers about who she really is, and what she is destined to do.

Inspired by Homer s "Odyssey, Silent Echo: A Siren s Tale" is an epic story filled with fantasy, romance and original music.


The quirkier scenes involving the Gods and Goddessess were fun. I worked to suspend my disbelief for a few things, but the author's enthusiasm for this aspect of her story was obvious, and for me that made it fun to read.

The verse. But this was barely a like for me. A few reasons contribute to that, the main one being I'm not a fan of novels in verse as a general concept. I've only read one that I can say I really loved. For me this also meant that this book felt verse-heavy, and while some of it was quirky and fun, I felt that on the whole it was taken too far and utilized too much. 


Max--Le sigh. Sign me up for cultured, creative types with great empathy for a parent experiencing mental illness. There's a lot to like about Max. I was rooting for him the whole way through (but I won't spoil the ending for ya!)

The concept. I got sucked in by the synopsis for sure. I think if you like campy stories about mythological characters set in modern times there's a lot you'll enjoy about this read. It will probably appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and Oh My Gods.


Narrative voice that sounded more teen. Between references to Teen Beat (a magazine I've never seen in the hands of a HS teen, much less a present day one--the last issue came out in 2007) and language that bordered on high scoring SAT words, the narrative voice felt out of touch with modern teens for me.

Less sexual tension with Felix. The love triangle felt forced to me. There was great conflict and tension between them based on their friendship and mutual experience of sensory disabilities. For me, that would have been enough. 

Less head-hopping: I'm a firm believer in multiple POVs, however I also think that alternating between them has to be strategic and well-executed. The sudden switch to, not only a new POV, but a non-teen POV 30% into the story was a complete buzzkill to the momentum created by the tension between Portia, Felix, and Max

More original tale and less mythological backstory. Massive chunks of italicized narrative that pulls me out of the story present made me put down the book for several days. It felt unending.

More consistent POV and narrative voice. I think even in third person it's cheating to head hop within a scene. Particularly when we switched to backstory on the Gods or the school nurse's POV I felt a strong disconnect to Portia and her story. For me those scenes felt derailing.

More organic use of humor throughout. Humor writing 101: if you have to explain a joke it's either not funny or not amusing to your target readership. 

Less (and by less i mean none) use of the word "handicap". The word jarred me out of the story every single time. On a related note I strongly dislike (colossal understatement) the implication that Felix's deafness "ruined his life." (Chp 39) I think youth readers in the Deaf community would strongly resent this implication. I'm not deaf, and I sure as hell do. 

Yes, people with disabilities face obstacles other people do not. Do they ruin their lives? 

Hell no. And unless the author has personally experienced said disability and experienced her own life being ruined by it, she doesn't have the fucking right to insinuate in narrative that it does so. It's one thing for a character to believe his life has been ruined by deafness. It's another thing entirely for the author to have the POV narrator and so-called heroine of the story (and therefore the author, unless the sentiment is otherwise disputed) agree with them. Especially if that book is written for children or teens.

That's a deal-breaker for me, kids. 

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