October 02, 2014

Review and Author Q&A! Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Title: Storm Siren
Series: Storm Siren #1
Author: Mary Weber
Published: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Nelson / Harper Collins
Hardcover: 320 pgs

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As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight...not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

I'm always wary of novels that have been so overdone in today's market -- vampires and werewolves, angels and demons, and in this case -- elementals. But Mary Weber does such a phenomenal job of creating a world and a story with a life all its own, that I soon forgot I was reading about elementals at all. It seemed like everything the characters were able to do with their powers was just a normal part of everyday life. The more the plot thickened, the more I became engrossed in this story. 

Nym is a slave - and in any world, slaves need to be useful - to serve their purpose and be worth the money shelled out for them. Nym is more...destructive than she is useful. From the very beginning of the novel, we are witnesses to her power (uncontrollable, or so it seems) and her strength is awesome. The descriptions that Weber uses are enough to make you fear Nym yourself and be grateful that elementals do not exist in real life.

One other aspect of our fierce, incredible heroine is the emotional "baggage" she takes along with her everywhere she goes. I know, it sounds bad to say that I love that about her, but I do. Nym has a history - 14 owners worth - and it is so incredible to see how each owner has had a different effect and impact on her psyche and on her character. But even better is that she never lets this history change who she is inside -- her moral compass is so important to her and it becomes to us, the readers, as well. The last thing we want is for Nym to become the monster that everyone thinks she is.

There's a love story in this book as well (there always has to be one, doesn't there?), but it's a love that comes beautifully slow and feels emotionally authentic. I found myself actually in love with the hero before Nym was!

Between the beautiful words used to create this fairytale world, to the amazing power of the elementals, to the aspects of slavery and war, I'd say this book is a must read for any fantasy lover. It's powerful and will keep you turning pages faster than you thought possible. I can't believe this is Mary Weber's debut novel. Congratulations!

5 out of 5 stars!

Photo credit: Sarah Kathleen Photography
Q&A with Storm Siren author, Mary Weber! Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. She likes orange trees, tattoos, and ALL the music. ;0)

1) Where did the idea for Storm Siren originate? 
Okay, so I’d been researching Joan of Arc (because she’s freaking amazing) and randomly came across this old poem of St. Patrick’s Breastplate! In it, he’s basically calling forth the elements to use as a shield – which was so very cool and inspiring. Also? It kind of makes him an old skool superhero. Add to that my admission that Storm Siren might be is totally my ode to all things Last Airbender, comic books, and Tokien, annnnnnd there we have it.

2) What made you decide to venture into the YA genre? And what, in particular, drew you to Elementals?
It was actually the head publisher for HarperCollins’s Thomas Nelson Fiction division who approached me about the idea of writing YA. I’d been a rabid YA fangirl (and book reviewer) for YEARS so my immediate reply was, “Um YES.” As far as the Elemental aspect…I grew up on The Fifth Element movie and (more recently) the Last Airbender cartoons, all of which own a giant squishy spot in my heart.

3) The cover for Storm Siren is stunning! Did you have any say in the final product?
 Aww thanks – I’m glad you like it!! I have to give a shoutout to my publisher here because I love them! They’re very into interacting with their authors throughout the pub process, so when it comes to book covers it’s this fun back and forth approach between what they suggest and what the author envisions. Then they take that and run with it and make people like me squeal. ;0)

4) Not all of your characters have the traditional "happy ending", to say the least. How'd you get through writing those hard moments?
*laughs* I like how you put that. :0) And yes, sigh…so true. I can honestly say that writing through those hard moments was actually a form of therapy for me (is that awkward to admit?). I cried the whole way through writing one chapter in particular because I’d just found out a friend’s cancer had become terminal. To this day, it’s the only chapter that didn’t need an edit.

5) Did you listen to music while writing Storm Siren? /  Are there certain songs you hear in the background during certain scenes?
Oh nifty question! Okay, I am like the most distractible person ever when it comes to writing (ha!), which also means I have to be the most boring. No music. No noise. Only coffee (because it is the one precious to rule them all). That said, I obsess over music when I’m driving, which also happens to be when I do a lot of my story plotting. My husband makes me these mix tapes to listen to (hottest thing ever, right?). Much of the mood influence for Storm Siren came from Evanescence, Imagine Dragons, Smashing Pumpkins, Avril Lavigne, Florence & the Machine, Silversun Pickups, and my main girl, Taylor Swift!

6) Can you give us any hints on what's to come in the next book?
Wraiths. ;0)

7) What is your favorite book of all time? 
Oh man, this answer changes embarrassingly frequently (because FEELS!!) but at the moment my favorite novel of all time is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Because J.K. Rowling is an absolute genius in her use of language and setting and SO MANY STORYLINES and heartbreak and tears and…sigh. You guys, I read her stuff and I’m like, “She’s already done perfection. No one should ever write again.”

8) One controversial aspect of your books is that Nym tattoos herself as a semi-memorial to those she's hurt. However, she is clearly using self-mutilation in order to escape from her own grief. Did you intend to add this element to your book in order to bring awareness to readers who self-harm? Has there been any controversy around this aspect of the book? 

You know, there hasn’t been, which I’ll admit is a bit of a surprise to me (although I’m grateful!). I tend to refrain from purposefully putting “messages” in my writing unless they’re authentic to the story (and even then I usually just trust they’ll flow out if they’re supposed to be there). However, I broke that rule with the issue of self-harm because it’s one that’s very important to me. I work a part-time job with teens, and self-harm is something that is so very real and tragic. Through Nym, I wanted to broach the struggle, but also show the power that true friendship, support, and embracing of one’s own internal strength can have to overcome it. I tried to do so in the most honest and caring way I could, but also the most real.

In the back of the book is a list of reader questions and the last one has to do with self harm as well as offering a resource which those who are struggling can reach out to. I truly hope they do.

Thank you EVER SO MUCH for having me!!!!!

Check out the Incredible Trailer for Storm Siren

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