Silent Echo by Elisa Freilich
Haunted by silence, a mute teenage girl is mysteriously given back her voice … and it is divine.

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.

I’d just like to start saying that the cover for this book is absolutely gorgeous. It looks great on my bookshelf and it’s a cool new take on “book-face” covers.
But the cover is definitely not the only good thing about this book. It has a very unique and original plot with a great mix of modern culture and Greek mythology. The gods are still alive in the story, and even though they still talk like they’re in ancient times, they’ve started picking up on modern customs, and it builds up into a hilarious mix (picture the god of war, Ares, wearing battle armor with an enormous sword at his belt, typing an e-mail in a tiny computer and being completely fascinated by emoticons).
What I really loved about this book is how representation is a big part of the plot. The main character, Portia, starts off mute, communicating with her parents and her deaf best-friend through sign language and lip-reading. I thought it was really interesting how instead of being “Portia said”, it was “Portia signed”, and it was impossible not to like all the different ways of communication present throughout the story. It also showed how hard life can be, and how important it is for people to learn sign language (this has definitely inspired me to seek out classes!).
And worry not, my dear book lovers, because the air is laced with romance in this lovely book. At first I thought the Max-Portia relationship was a bit rushed and started too fast (I mean, they hadn’t even talked to each other properly and Portia’s thoughts were being consumed by him and he was writing songs to her), but it soon develops into a steamy and hilarious romantic friendship. A big part of Greek mythology is love, so this book wouldn’t have been complete without it. Besides Max, Portia has some pretty cool relationships present in her life; her parents are caring and loving and incredibly supportive of her! And we can’t forget about Felix, Portia’s deaf best friend. They’re both so close and honest to each other, and their friendship was very important to Portia’s character development, keeping her grounded so the power of her new-found voice wouldn’t go up to her head.
And there’s the whole Max-Portia-Felix thing. I’m not a big fan of love triangles and tend to avoid them in general, but this one was very well done and it didn’t take over the story. The plot remained about Portia and how she grew into being a very strong woman and Siren, with a deep understanding of herself,
To my great pleasure, the book contained lots and lots and lots of pop culture references and an enjoyable sarcastic humor, which really helped relating to the characters and their reality.
I really enjoyed how musically driven the story is, and how music is a big part of Portia’s life and identity. Sometimes I’d find myself trying to sing a few of the many original songs present in the book, even though I am absolutely tone-deaf. It was very refreshing how Portia likes modern music, because even though I love the oldies, it has become a trend for characters to love old music and shun current songs like it’s trash. It’s a welcome change to the routine (also, Portia and Leto rapping together was epic).
Overall, I thought Portia Griffin was a very realistic character (besides the Siren thing) because she isn’t good all the time, she has to go through some really daunting situations and ends up having an “evil phase”. She has proper and realistic reactions to things that completely turned her world upside down, and she isn’t a hero all the time, stumbling through a lot of ups and downs. Also, even though it bothered me at first, I came to realize that the teenage boys in the story are very realistic. They’re not tough 24/7 and they feel pain and break down sometimes, which is completely awesome.
This book has just the right amount of jaw-dropping plot twists. Not too many that makes the story unstable and messy, and not too little that makes the story flat and boring. They fit perfectly with the flow of the story and keep you from putting down the book, since they don’t reveal everything at once and it makes whoever is reading it keep reading, to figure out all the secrets and why’s and how’s.
The ending is really tugging at my mind, and I really want to know how Max’s situation is going to play out. I’m pretty sure Khloe is going to be a major obstacle in the next book, and here’s to hoping she’s not going to mess up Portia and Max’s relationship.