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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Siren is the second book in The Gay Teen's Guide to Defeating a Siren series by Cody F. Wagner. Dealing with the fallout from the Siren's last attack, Blaize Trales has spent his summer at home coping with his parents, who have been awkward around him since he came out, and getting over the death of his best friend. He finally returns to the safe haven of Sanctuary Preparatory Academy, but Jimmy's memory haunts him as he tries to carry on with the new school year. He's keeping a secret from those closest to him. Since Jimmy's death, he's become the Seeker and can see those being controlled by the Siren. His life becomes more complicated as he tries to keep his secret, tries to predict the Siren's next move, and navigates a new crush. When government agents under the Siren's control investigate the school, Sanctuary's secret is threatened. As the danger to the school and the Siren's presence grow, Blaize has to decide whether to keep his powers hidden or risk everything to save those he loves.
Cody F. Wagner makes you feel every emotional turn of Blaize's story with real tension that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens. While the Siren's threat lurks throughout, the story remains grounded in a realistic and emotional world. The characters are layered and full of heart with complex motives and feelings, real people dealing with real situations. Blaize has a strong voice and a vivid personality that comes to life on the page. You'll immediately fall in love with him! In a lot of ways he's still very darling and innocent, easily flustered and tongued tied, but he also completely encompasses how it feels to be fifteen. Every embarrassing and socially awkward moment makes him even more likable and easy to relate to. His relationship with his little sister Molly is sweet and acts as a tie to his home as his parents continue to push him away and keep him at a distance. She's so independent and truly confident in herself that she captures both the wonder of childhood and its heart. Jimmy's death haunts Blaize throughout and guides him through a lot of what he does, while also being the root of a majority of his fears. Blaize's journey is one of bravery and strength as he learns what it means to be a hero. His adorable awkwardness takes on romantic comedy proportions when he deals with a crush. Their banter is clever and delightful, adding some levity to the story.
Blaize's friendship with Roze and Cassie is where his heart lies, because they create a safe haven for him that is just as important as the school itself. The Siren dives further into each of them, rounding out their characters and allowing Blaize to understand more about what led them to the school. Mystery is woven into the story as the trio searches for the origins of the locket Jimmy gave him and researches more into who the Siren is. A delightful story that follows Blaize's journey as he navigates friendship, school, and crushes while dealing with his parents' misguided perceptions, the government's constant looming threat, and the growing presence of the Siren. The Gay Teen's Guide to Defeating a Siren is a breathtaking read, an emotional and profound story that will capture the heart.