Wake, Siren

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This collection of stories is hard to give a summary for.  It's a collection of stories from Greek Mythology told from the perspectives of the women those stories involve.  Some of these stories are told with a modern spin, but still in the end tell the same story.  Let me begin this review by saying that this book shouldn't be an easy read for anyone, but it does not cross into a line of no return.

Some of these stories end up being pretty repetitive, many of these women cry out to deities who may or may not take mercy on them. But is it really mercy that they receive?  Sometimes the deity's attempt at mercy just makes them more accessible to whom they were running from.  A few of these women are punished for situations out of their control, but if read with an open mind it is almost necessary in a world where women are constantly battling against each other.  Either for a man, job, friends, land women have torn each other apart for centuries.  This book can be taken one of two ways, it can be seen as the author having a political motivation in a world of the #MeToo movement, or it can be seen for the warning sign that it is meant to be.  Build up your fellow women and if someone opens up to you don't disbelieve just because she says Zeus turned her into a cow for a  time.

I give this three stars because while it was an interesting read, I didn't love it and I had trouble with my lack of knowledge in Greek Mythology.  Luckily I had it on my Kindle and I found alot of the stories via the Dictionary or Wikipedia, because without any context the stories would not have held my attention.  I would recommend this story to those who have a strong background with Greek Mythology and feel like they would get more out of this story than someone like me who relies more on the author to build the world with me as I read.
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Nina MacLaughlin's creative and feminist transformations of classic myths will appeal to any reader who grew up loving Greek mythology. Reconsidering these stories from a feminist perspective made me rethink a lot of what I took for granted growing up. It's also a great way for readers to become familiar with these classic tales, while simultaneously questioning the male gaze present in the majority of them in their original forms. I can't wait to see what MacLaughlin does next!
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Hmmm. How can I put it without hurting any sentiments? To be completely honest, I did not like these stories. These were supposed to be an introduction to Ovid, but for someone who has never before read or even heard of Ovid, this may not be the best place to start. It just put me off the whole thing. Also, the book cover was not very enticing in the first place. Although it should have been an indication of the disturbing content of the book since it was certainly very Gothic and ill-favored looking. That is not to say I do not appreciate Gothic novels or those that push the boundaries.

There is too much sex and violence in this book and the writing style does the stories no particular favor as well. The author has chosen to place the Gods and heroes and heroines of Ovid in contemporary times, but it does not always work. For example, the story entitled ‘Agave’ was written in the first-person narrative of someone who possibly grew up in the 90’s with the bubblegum-chewing vernacular of using ‘like’ at least five times in a sentence. As a child of the 90’s myself, it should have struck a chord, instead it became extremely annoying to even finish the story.

It may be considered that these are purely feminist takes on the stories, in that, every story deals with the struggles of being a woman and the choice to say no and so on, but it gets too much and too tedious after a while. 'Subtlety' would have worked wonders for me in this case.

It is certainly possible that Ovid’s content deals with just these themes of sex and violence, but then the book should certainly come with a disclaimer about the same. It is not fun to be happily cruising along a regency romance and then be smacked in the face with this heavy material. If, like me, you can take only so much violence and uncouth behaviour in your reading, then this isn't the book for you.
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Wake, Siren 
by Nina MacLaughlin
Published by FSG Originals 
Link to Goodreads review :https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2854357574

Wake, Siren is a retelling of Myths. It shows these myths in a new way. Her MacLaughlin hides nothing, glazes over nothing, romanticizes everything but the harsh truth.

Though MacLaughlin uses modern English and in a vulgar and crude way. it is exactly what is called for. She tells these myths not in a wool over eyes way they are usually told,. 

MacLaughlin leaves you in no doubt that you are reading a story about innocence, trust, rape, lies, and vengeance. 

MacLaughlin could use beautiful prose in one line and cutting vulgarity the next, yet at no time did I feel it was disjointed. 

Each story had held my attention and shock me awake. This is the title, it was my Siren MacLaughlin wanted to wake and every store stoked the fire in my soul.

The stories were not easy to read given their topic but that made them that much more important. I felt, even with the element of magic/power there was a real undercurrent of real life ; the guilty do not always pay, the innocent often suffer, revenge is taken on the wrong person, we can not always control our lives.
For me this book raised one question in particular. Why for all this time have these myths been so loved?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about injustice, and equality.
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I found this book a little hard to get into the authors style was a little different to me but I really enjoyed it and the different point of view it presented
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I enjoyed this modern, feminist retelling of ancient myths. Each tale is quite short, making this a book better in bits. Especially since there, unfortunately, was so much just flat out rape in the stories. And, because of the repetition, it does feel a bit one more at times.
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“And all those gods, all those deathless ones. They never met regret. They don’t fear mistakes because they don’t know consequences. Never guilty, never punished. I showed you all, showed each crime, showed all you criminals. And yet we’re the ones to pay. How’s it work? You murder. You rape. You violate. And it’s us who fall. Why am I the only one to say it? I say the names of all the fallen.”⁠
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It’s no wonder women have been hunted and degraded, femininity mocked and pitied in a world whose oldest legends tell the tales of men taking and keeping what they want. MacLaughlin's collection gives the women of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the poem that centers much of Roman mythology, the chance to flip the table and reclaim their stories.⁠
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Through the collection, the reader is shifted between stories that feel connected to their mythological roots and others that break into a modern, relatable setting. Each of these women - nymphs, goddesses, and mortals - grapple with the pleasure, fear, desire and need they experience at the hands of men. Too often they are forced into permanence and isolation, being transformed into trees, flowers, birds, and streams, to be free of greedily grazing hands and eyes.⁠
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“I was no longer the full human self I knew myself to be, who is friends with Linda and Daniel and Quinn, who loved grapes as a kid and hated socks, who drew pictures of castles and tigers, who laughs at rhymes and hates ice and loves milkweed pods. All at once that went away and I was a body and an entrance and a means.”⁠
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MacLaughlin’s care to inhabit the minds of these characters, trapped in history, ravished by men’s desires and a man’s pen, is an extension of sisterly love. We may not be able to fix what has happened to ourselves or those we love but we can help ensure that their stories are told true and not erased by silence.⁠
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“Was it punishment, being turned into a woman? I don’t know. Is it punishing to be a woman? It is. It will continue to be.”⁠
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Favorite stories: Eurydice, Arachne, Echo, Io, Medusa, Myrrha
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This is a fairly interesting title. It's a series of short sort of flash fiction pieces about various women from mythology, most of whom have been maligned unfairly by history.  While I disagree with her assessment of some, being a person who has studied mythology extensively, the writing is compelling and interesting enough to hold your attention.
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Altering myths in the most vulgar, trashy way possible to communicate pseudo-contemporary/wanna-be revolutionary, feminist messages is ridiculous. It's been done to death and it's tiring. Before you decide to mess with Greek Mythology, projecting modern values, learn 1) not to use contemporary colloquialisms, and b) respect the original materieal.

I've had enough of average writers violating Greek culture because they are unable to come up with original material. Why don't you use your own Mythology, for a change?

Oh, wait...You don't have any. That's why.
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This modern retelling of Greek myths is fascinating, and at times told in a compelling way.  I found myself enjoying the narration style more for some chapters than others, where it felt a bit more jarring.  I think the main drawback for me was that it lacked some clarity as someone who was not familiar with every myth being retold, and I found myself caught up on wanting to be able to compare the traditional telling of each story to the version being told in this collection.
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My thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux/FSG Originals for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Wake, Siren - Ovid Resung’ by Nina MacLaughlin in exchange for an honest review.

I love the classical myths and appreciate it when contemporary authors retell them, especially when they respect the source material as Nina MacLaughlin clearly does. In her Author’s Note she outlines her process: “I read a story, reread it, then spent the day listening to the voice in my mind, trying to hear what this woman sounded like, what story she wanted to tell and how.”

This process of listening to and honouring these individual voices is something that I approve of given that it acknowledges their sovereignty. It feels almost a spiritual process of acting as a conduit for these ancient voices as the oracles and sibyls of the ancient world did.

Her approach is feminist, modern, at times playful while other times savage. The language is explicit in places as well there being scenes that might prove triggering to some readers even after their being in existence for thousands of years. Sometimes moving into contemporary language exposes the ugly nature underlying a number of the myths.

As with all short story collections there were a number that I found excellent and others that didn’t move me as much. I do recognise the importance of this work and its power. I expect that reading in a different mood or on another day might well shift my perception of the individual tales.

I intend to purchase my own copy after publication and reread at a more leisurely pace alongside the translation of Ovid’s ‘The Metamorphoses’ that Nina MacLaughlin cited as her source.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
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Wake, Siren by Nina MacLaughlin is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October.

A modern re-adaptation of Ovid with the chapters each named for a character in Roman mythology. It's so odd to read fixated, persistent inner monologues of someone who feels like they live in the present-day, but then to have them speak and listen to people in lyrical Olde English of the choices made out of ego that oftentimes end with regret and guilt, and the hungered, lusty, violent, transformative qualities of the gods dallying with humans.
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An interesting premise, and one that definitely caught my attention. This isn't an easy read - nor is it meant to be - and MacLaughlin thoroughly references many myths, some of which I had not encountered before. Ultimately, however, all the stories followed a similar pattern and began to feel a bit repetitive after awhile (those Greek Gods truly sucked) so I found myself flipping through the final half of the book. I just wish there had been some more reworkings or unique changes to the stories that would have added some new insights or angles.
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An interesting collection of Greek/Roman retellings. This one should come with ALL the trigger warnings.  Traditionally mythology and folklore tend to focus on the hero's tale and journey.  Instead MacLaughlin highlights the victims story and the rape culture ingrained in these hero's origins.  While the modern tone of some of the stories didn't work for me, you'll be left with an overwhelming feeling of hollowness after finishing.  These stories are harrowing.  I absolutely adored the Pygmalion story though.  Such a bright gem in an otherwise very dark book.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.
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This past Spring, I taught a unit on contemporary feminist re-imaginings of the Classics and I sincerely wish I could have included Wake, Siren in my syllabus, as Nina MacLaughlin's retellings of tales from The Metamorphoses were as unflinching, cathartic, and ferociously feminist as I'd hoped they would be. 

Fair warning: this is often a difficult read due to its explicit handling of sexual violence (given the source material, however, and the project undertaken by Wake, Siren, that should hardly be a surprise) and MacLaughlin's prose is experimental, so if that isn't your bag, you may not enjoy this. That said, I appreciated MacLaughlin's style choices, as her beautiful, haunting prose, for me, comes the closest of any classics reimagining that I have read to truly capturing the primal, dreamlike experience of reading the ancients and Ovid in particular.

Some of the tales are stronger than others, but, on the whole, I found Wake, Siren a powerful collection performing interesting and important cultural work by reorienting the perspectives of many of the ravishings of The Metamorphoses (which several of Wake, Siren's heroines point out have been troublingly romanticized by Western culture for centuries) from the perspective of those brutalized by husbands, fathers, and the ever-capricious gods. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Ovid's Metamorphses is one of my all time favorites and it was really interesting to hear from the women's perspectives. If you are into Greek Mythology and you are into feminism, definitely check out "Wake, Siren"
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Do you know the source material? That may not matter, but having some understanding of who the gods are and what they have done to humans does matter. They're cruel, capricious, misogynistic: we're pawns and objects to them. There isn't one story here, it's a series of short stories, so easy to dip into or skip a story if it is too disturbing.

eARC provided by publisher.
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Many thanks to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an electronic copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review
I have deliberated quite a bit on how to review and score this book.  First of all I will say that it was not what I was expecting and it was at times very uncomfortable to read.  Occasionally I felt that some of the language and descriptions were there for shock value only.  I also felt that there were many occasions where something was placed in the writing that caused a disconnect from the story.  A random phrase or an out of place word.  It would cause the voice to be lost - however in these instances I was reminded of poetry and wondered if these were deliberately placed breaks for emphasis.  Some of the stories read very much like poetry so I would not be surprised if this was the case.
So my confusion in how to score this comes from am I scoring it from a story point of view, or am I scoring it from a poetry point of view.  I can't really make it black and white it that way, some of it was story, some was poetry.

I have ended up with my decided score due to impact, although in places I felt impact was lost due to the writing there were other areas where the impact was intensified and it was very intense in those places.
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Wake, Siren is very good, but it can be very difficult to read at times. 

We get so many distinct voices and so many transformations in this collection. We get to reimagine these myths we know, but this time with women's voices at the center. We also get very graphic, brutal detail at times as we revisit these tales of rape, incest, abusive relationships, and loss. Overall, I would recommend this book, with a clear warning to the reader. 

Some stories feel modern and conversational; some are more stream-of-consciousness. Mostly, these work, but at times it can be distracting. Even when it does become distracting, it's a good reminder of the connection between these old stories and our own modern lives. We still deal with these issues, even if we don't turn into trees and streams and animals. We find our own ways to change and grow and adapt. 

I cannot wait to buy a physical copy of this book for my shelf at home!
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I went into this book thinking I would like it because of the mythology and I absolutely loved it. MacLaughlin is amazing at having a different voice for everyone in each chapter which is a task in itself because there are so many different characters. This isn’t like the old mythology you’re used to, this is updated to be easier to read and relate to and show just how terrible the Gods were to mortals (women in particular). I loved how even with the horrible punishments that women went through because of acts done to them that they still were strong and had decent outlooks on things after the fact. I will definitely be buying a physical copy of the book when it comes out to add to my bookshelf and read again.
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