I Chose to Die by Ksenia Anske
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The opening paragraphs of Ksenia Anske's novel jump right into the action. Abused, fragile, waif-like teenager Ailen Bright has decided to commit suicide by drowning herself in the bathtub. Her own nerves, and her father's rage stop her in the act but do not kill the desire.
We learn everything we need to know about Ailen in the beginning chapter of the novel, how she's buckled under years of degrading abuse from her strict and cruel father, how she has only one real friend, and how she has a rich fantasy life in which she talks to the beautiful Siren figurines carved into the bathtub, and ultimately, how she is determined that her life must end by her own hand.
It's pretty heavy stuff for the casual reader to initially take in, but the beauty of this wildly imaginative and earnestly written novel is, that the swift pace of it, the cinematic eye for details, and the well written main character keep you hooked and moving along. There really is no scene that bogs down as character details and memories are tied into the scenes that move forward, so the reader is treated to a fully fleshed story that is a definite "read in one sitting" shoe-in.
I really liked the novelty of having the "Siren" as the mythical creature of choice in this novel, which is a refreshing change from the vampire/werewolf/zombie trend that populates the market right now. Ksenia's sirens are true to their legend, they are beautiful yet cruel creatures who use their exquisite singing voices and feminine charms to lure unsuspecting humans to their death. They suck the soul straight from the mouth of a human, and even admit to loving the taste of babies!
The most controversial aspect of this novel would be Ailen's suicidal determination and the "reward" it initially brings her. What I liked, however, was that the consequences of Ailen's actions, and her ultimate will to live and love become the overwhelming force of her character. Her relationship with her father is fleshed out with painful honesty, and any young girl or woman who has suffered such a domestic situation I think will understand the vicious cycle of fear and hate of, yet ever present desperation to be loved by the very man who is abusing them.
The third act of the novel is a roller coaster of action scenes worthy of any summer blockbuster, with showdowns between humans and sirens and siren hunters in public venues, and motorcycle chases, and entanglements with the police. It definitely is not boring and it does not disappoint!
Some of the twists and turns within the novel I found a tad bit predictable, and the continuous action could possibly be toned down a bit to make way for a more literary type story, but then again that is probably just a personal quirk and in no way takes away from the enjoyable read that this is. At any rate, this is one book I must say I really, really hope someday gets a Hollywood treatment.
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