Sirena

Sirena

4.7 71
by Donna Jo Napoli
     
 

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In Donna Jo Napoli's beautiful prose, the tragic love story between a mermaid and a mortal comes to life for young readers. When Sirena meets Philoctetes, Hercules' friend, she falls in love. But the young warrior must return home to fight the Trojan War and leave his magical love behind.

Overview

In Donna Jo Napoli's beautiful prose, the tragic love story between a mermaid and a mortal comes to life for young readers. When Sirena meets Philoctetes, Hercules' friend, she falls in love. But the young warrior must return home to fight the Trojan War and leave his magical love behind.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's Sept. 1998 review of the hardcover edition: Napoli turns to the mermaid myths for this charming story of Sirena, a mermaid who refuses to gain her immortality by luring sailors to their deaths (remember the Odyssey). Instead, she helps Philoctetes, an injured sailor stranded on a deserted island in the Mediterranean Sea, and they fall in love. Thus, Sirena becomes immortal; yet her beloved gets older and older because he is human. For years, they swim together, eat, play, and love one another in an idyllic existence. However, when a ship carrying Odysseus comes to their island, Philoctetes is asked to bring the bow and arrows he was given by Hercules to help them win the war against Troy. Finally, honor and true love prevail, as the lovers sacrifice their life together for the greater good. Here is a sample of Napoli's poetic language: "I feel the stars. Each sparkle sets aflame the pain in my heart." This is part of an ancient story, emphasizing a transcending love between a human and a mermaid. YAs who like fantasies and love stories will really like this one. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998, Scholastic, 200p, illus, map, 18cm, $4.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
VOYA - Kathleen Beck
A strong female protagonist, the lure of myth, and enduring themes of love, honor, and vengeance combine in this powerful story by Napoli-whose earlier works have explored fairy tales (Magic Circle [Dutton, 1993/VOYA August 1993], Zel [Dutton, 1996/VOYA April 1997]) and the Bible (Song of the Magdalene [Scholastic, 1996/VOYA February 1997]). The sirens take their places along the rocks, prepared to lure approaching ships to land where they will mate with the sailors and attain immortality. Sirena is horrified by her sisters' power to enchant and thus bring death to the sailors, however, and she flees to the deserted island of Lemnos where her song will harm no one. Then Philoctetes is marooned on Lemnos, left behind by his fellow warriors because of a wound that will not heal. Taking pity, Sirena tends his wound, brings him food, and falls in love. One day Greek soldiers return to take Philoctetes with them to Troy, where his enchanted arrows hold the key to victory. Which is stronger, love or honor? Does embracing one mean surrendering the other? Napoli has combined and adapted classical myths (here the sirens are mermaids rather than the half-human, half-birds of the Argonauts' story) and woven in material from the Iliad to tell a story that seems familiar yet new. Readers will be absorbed by this beautifully-written book; many will be moved to seek out the myths and poetry that inspired it. Refer these readers to the novels of Mary Renault, Paul Fleischman's intriguing Dateline: Troy (Candlewick, 1996/VOYA December 1996) and Stanley Lombardo's fluent, contemporary translation of the Iliad (Hackett, 1997). VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Sirena is cursed because she cannot become immortal unless she is loved by a human man yet the siren songs she and her mermaid sisters sing leads men to their deaths. As a result, Sirena hides when she discovers an injured young soldier, Philoctetes, abandonned on the isle of Lemnos. Sirena secretly saves his life and finally allows him to see her. The two fall in love but when Philoctetes' shipmates return for him, Sirena must decide whether or not to let him return home. Napoli's story is complex and compelling.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Once again Napoli takes an old story and offers new perspectives for thoughtful readers to ponder. While young people may be unfamiliar with the story of the Sirens, lack of knowledge will not prevent them from enjoying this absorbing novel. Here, the creatures are depicted as pubescent mermaids who crave the immortality that only a man's love will give them. Sirena, one of a school of 10 such sea creatures, turns her back on her sisters and chooses to live in silent isolation rather than follow her prescribed role as an enchantress. While there are plenty of references to mythic characters and events, the heart of this novel is Sirena's all-too-human story of love found and lost when the injured Philoctetes is abandoned on an island by his shipmates. As in her earlier titles, the author both expands upon the original story, offering background information and details of newly imagined events, and tells the tale from a different, decidedly personal perspective. The prose moves fluidly and the chapters flow smoothly into one another, emphasizing and complementing the watery setting and the swift passage of time. Secondary characters are clearly drawn yet retain a sense of distance that enhances the story's mythic aspects. Napoli uses Sirena's love of storytelling to insert details and information that may be unfamiliar to modern readers. This love of story will quickly and easily transfer to YAs who will fall under the spell of her siren song and eagerly await her next foray into reimagined fantasy. It is also likely that the book will encourage readers to seek out the myths and literature that inspired it.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Sirena and her sisters are hybrids (half-human, half-fish), or mermaids, yearning for the touch and love of men, who will thereby bring them immortality. When ships pass on their way to battle in Troy, the mermaid sisters lure the warriors with their songs. Sirena soon realizes that their calls lead many men to their deaths (there is no fresh water for the men, or they drown, etc.); this knowledge so devastates her that she banishes herself to life alone, and without songs, on the island of Lemnos. To her lonely home comes Philoctetes, abandoned by his shipmates after he was bitten by a serpent. Sirena is drawn to him, but afraid for him at the same time, she does not want him to suffer the same fate as the men before him. Slowly, Napoli unfurls a glorious story of love, as Sirena reaches immortality while understanding the consequences of her love and exploring brand new feelings such as desertion, desperation, and jealousy. The sensual narrative celebrates land and sea with stinging detail, from Sirena's intense love and physical longing to her quiet, clever island survival with Philoctetes. Fans of Greek mythology will enjoy several tales of gods, warriors, and nymphs woven throughout, but it's the timeless, entrancing love story—-the heartache, the triumph, and the bittersweet ending—-that grabs the heartstrings. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780590383899
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2000
Pages:
210
Product dimensions:
4.26(w) x 6.94(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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Sirena 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
piratesweetie More than 1 year ago
I bought this book years ago at Barnes and Noble because of its pretty cover. This was one of few incidents when you could really judge a book by its cover. The story is written simply and beautifully. This story is about a mermaid/siren who lives near an exotic island in the ocean, where she and her sisters sing and try to lure unknowing sailors to them in order to be given the gift of immortality. The story, in my opinion, is very original. This is an awesome book with a passionate love story. It is also good enough to read over and over. I can't remember how many times I've read it.
anotherjane More than 1 year ago
I honestly found Sirena quite disappointing.  After hearing a lot of great things about the novel, perhaps my expectations were too high.  The beginning of the novel really captivated me; I found the experiences of the mermaids very fascinating.  However, the story line slowed down a lot once Sirena got to Lemnos.  Sure, the romantic scenes were cute, but there really was no plot in the second half of the novel.  After much of the same for a good portion of the book, the first real conflict involving the two main characters appeared, the resolution of that conflict happened as predicted, and then the novel ended rather abruptly.  The reader did not get to witness any consequences of that decision at all.  Specifically, what did Sirena do after this change?  Was she heartbroken?  Did she forgive her sisters and go back to live with them?  Did she stay on Lemnos?  Did she search for a way to end her immortality?  Some sort of resolution to this mystery needed to be added in order to really conclude the story.  The author almost seemed to be setting the story up for a sequel, which would have been fine, but the ending doesn't really work for a stand-alone novel.
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Arec More than 1 year ago
This was another Greek mythology story that completely captured my heart. I was iffy about this one when I started it because it is written in present tense, first person. I loathe reading first person, and present tense just sounds so awkward that I don't even attempt to read anything written as such. However, from page one, I was hooked. The story is narrated by one of the 50 mytholgical mermaids, Sirena. She lives with ten of her sisters on an island where they are protected and guided by three guardian birds. The sole purpose of Sirena's and her sister's existence is to somehow make human males fall in love them so that the mermaids can become immortal like their ancestors. They live simple lives, dressing up in starfish and pearls and singing to lure ships towards their island where their ship will wreck on the reef just offshore. What makes Sirena different than her sisters, however, is her conscience. Whereas her sisters are only concerned with becoming immortal, Sirena actually cares about the welfare of the men whose lives they put in danger. When the story begins, Sirena is preening herself before singing to lure not one, but three ships to her sister's island. The men on the ships fall under their spell and two of the three ships crash upon the reef. Most of the men die because they do not know how to swim. While the ones who know how to swim make it safely to shore, the mermaids try to save as many of the others as they can. Only eleven men initially survive. They eventually die because of lack of resources on the island, but not before they beat one of Sirena's sisters, Cecilia, to death for trying to save a drowning sailor. Shortly after, Sirena runs away to the island of Lemnos to escape the life she has been subjected to. There, she tries to help heal Philoctetes who has been bitten by a serpent sent by Hera. From there, their relationship blossoms and they come to love each other despite their differences, including Sirena's newly acquired immortality. Eventually however, Odysseus comes to obtain Hercules bow and arrows from Philoctetes so that the Greeks can win the Trojan War. The book ends with Philoctetes leaving with Odysseus, leaving Sirena on the deserted island of Lemnos. This book completely crushed my heart. All in all, the book was actually pretty graphic for what I thought was an independent reader novel. Whenever Cecilia is killed by the sailors, Napoli gruesomely describes the mermaid's smashed in face. Sirena makes multiple references to their beautiful breasts. While Napoli had enough decently to leave out any sex scenes, it is blatantly alluded to. The majority of the novel is Sirena and Philoctetes bonding and building their relationship. Napoli takes us through the two learning about each other, bantering playfully, and falling in love. Only to rip them apart. It was so anticlimactic and soul-crushing, I almost started crashing. All in all, it was a great novel. Despite being written in first person, it was expertly written. I love the simplicity of Sirena's thinking. It is clear that she lacks any education beyond her island world. Reading about Sirena and Philoctete's developing relationship was enchanting. Definitely worth the heart break at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Justine22 More than 1 year ago
I first read this book when I was about 15 years old. I am the type of person who loves to re-read books I like, so I've read it a few more times since then. Every time I read it again I discover something new to love. The writing is very unique and interesting. It is a fantasy-type novel since it has mermaids and quite a lot of Greek mythology, but the author manages to make it feel realistic, as if it could have actually happened. It is even somewhat educational as it teaches you a little bit about Greek mythology. Reading this novel it is impossible not to fall in love with the characters and the story. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun book that will hold their interest.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because it was so magical and full of romance. the only thing that bothered me was that Philoctetes had to leave. It was sad, but as Mother Dora said, he would die if he stayed with Sirena, and he would live if he left to fight the Trojan War. I would have cryed at the ending, but i was in school when i finished the book so I didn't want to make a scene right then and there. I suggest people read this book for a report or just for fun, because it's a great book and I look forward to reading it agian sometime. And hopefully buying it one day!:'
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thnk anyone who old enough will love this book to death i know i do but i can't find it in print anywhere so if you don't know where to find it knowthat you are not the only one what-so-ever! J.P. is out
Guest More than 1 year ago
For my English class I had to write a book report. I'm not a good reader when I don't enjoy the books. When it comes to a school project I always try to read people's reviews before I get the book. Some people told me Sirena was a good fairy tale. Sirena was the first book a ever read by Donna Jo Napoli. I enjoyed it the most. I thought it was a incredible novel because Sirena and her sisters are hybrids (half-human, half-fish), or mermaids, yearning for the touch and love of men. The mermaid sisters lure the warriors with their songs. Sirena is cursed because she can not become immortal unless she is loved by a human man, yet the siren songs she and her mermaid sisters sing leads men to their deaths. Sirena hides when she discovers an injured young soldier, Philoctetes, abandonned on the isle of Lemnos. Sirena secretly saves his life and finally allows him to see her. When Sirena meets Philoctetes, Hercules' friend, she falls in love. But the young warrior must return home to fight the Trojan War and leave his magical love behind. Would he come back for his magical love? Read and you'll find out. I think you shoud read this book if you like fairy tales and mermaids this book is for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. I hate reading books twice and I have read this one 4 times. Donna Jo Napoli takes you on a journey in which you feel like you are apart of this book, and you cannot put it down. A quick read, but very enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book brings a magical passion over you.and that that love is truely the thing that matters and you will do anything for it.it really touches the soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all times. Its such a powerful book that takes you right into the ocean and flies you through a lot of details of the greek myth. Ive read it like 5 times and every time i cry, but i never get tired of it, its wonderful. MUST HAVE
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the fact that this story was written in present tense. You get a better feel for the character's emotions. This story truly shows the complications of romantic love while showing how wonderful the feeling can be as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I love tragic romances and if you share this passion then this is one of the best books you'll ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I totally fell in love with this book. It was so romantic, yet so deep and emotional, it really holds the readers intrest and I loved it so much, brought me to tears many times.LOVED IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being naturally attracted to books with a mystical theme, I grabbed this one in my school library one day...and couldn't put it down. Sirena is a character almost every woman can identify with in her search for real, lasting love, but she's also a free spirit who thinks for herself. The ending of her love story will suprise you and may bring a few tears, but it's one you'd be really missing out on if you didn't add it to your collection. Napoli writes in such a way that you can't help but move with her and laugh and cry along with Sirena and her mermaid sisters. For those of you who know the story surrounding her lover Philoctetes, the knowledge of where he's coming from and the part he's about to play in the Trojan War adds some extra spice. The perfect combination of love and Greek mythology, a story you won't regret or forget. One of my FAVORITES!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
omg.. this is the best book ever!! i read it in a day.. i jus couldnt stop reaing.. i love how it included some greek mythology! i hate the ending so much because its one of the endings where it ends with one sentence you've been dying to read ever since the middle of the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a really good book!!! when you first read it you think boring next book but it is really good and it is so romantic. It is about a mermaid who most make a man love her and then she will become immortal but for that is why they have beautiful voices but she realizes the hatred the men have for them until one day an abonded prince finds her and she helps him and first they are friends but now they fall in love read the rest you are hooked when you read it!!!!!!!!!!!