The Gay Teen's Guide to Defeating a Siren

Book 2: The Siren

Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
386 Pages
Reviewed on 04/23/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and create. He writes about topics ranging from superpowers to literate trees (really). The sequel to his award-winning novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, recently “came out.” See what he did there? Cody dealt with bullying as a teen and wanted to provide a fun escape for all the underdogs out there. He’s also handing out cookie dough to everyone who grabs a copy. Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at www.wagner-writer.com or find him on Twitter @cfjwagner, Goodreads at www.goodreads.com/wagner_writer, and Amazon at www.amazon.com/Cody-Wagner/e/B016NYGV40.

    Book Review

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.

Caitlin Lyle Farley

Blaze Trales returns to Sanctuary Preparatory Academy for another year of Healing Hamburgers and video games like Kombat the Gay. His parents still don’t know that his pray-away-the-gay school is really a haven that encourages its students to accept themselves, but somebody else does. The radical Zimmerman’s Zealots, under the Siren’s influence, have undergone an image revamp. With Senator Joseph at their head, the Zealots begin investigating institutions for healing gay teens with the aim of discovering whether they are genuine or not. Everyone at Sanctuary knows the Zealots will be coming for them too; it’s just a question of time.

The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren is a satisfying blend of laugh aloud humour, magic, and social commentary. Blaze Trales is an unlikely hero and an utterly lovable character. The plot moves a little slowly initially as Blaze tries to balance his sense of duty towards fighting the Siren against battling the school bullies and navigating a new crush. The latter part of the book is thrilling as Blaze, Roze, and Cassie follow clues that lead them to the mind-blowing revelation of the Siren’s identity.

Wagner injects many humorous moments into The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren without glossing over the devastating reality that none of the students would be at Sanctuary if their parents had accepted them for who they are. The horrors of ‘conversion therapy’ are a real threat to many young members of the LGBT community, and the concept that one of these institutions is a secret haven for gay teens is highly effective. You want to believe it far more than the whimsical idea of magic being real.

Kim Anisi

In The Siren, Book 2 of The Gay Teen's Guide to Defeating a Siren series by Cody Wagner, Blaize Trales and his friend return to Sanctuary, a school that is supposed to heal gay kids from their affliction, i.e. being gay. What parents and others do not know is that it's only a cover, and behind all the anti-gay propaganda, the school is indeed a sanctuary - just not the kind the parents expect. The loss of his friend still haunts Blaize, and in addition, the teenager is hiding a new gift (or is it a curse?): he is the new seeker, which means that he can see it when people are influenced by the Siren, a powerful being who can control the minds of everyone who is attracted to women, i.e. gay women included. Sanctuary is a thorn in the Siren's side because it is one part of the resistance against her. This year, the Siren takes her fight to a new level. She wants to out Sanctuary for what it really is. Blaize is the only one who can stop her, but for that he needs to make a hard choice.

The Siren by Cody Wagner is just as good a read as the first book in the series. And with the way it ends, I am quite sure there is at least one more novel to come. I can only tell you that it's an ending you won't see coming for a while. At least, I was taken by surprise and found the twist rather shocking. Once again, I found it easy to dive into the world of Blaize. You don't have to be gay, by the way, to enjoy this slightly supernatural teenage novel full of suspense and a little bit of romance. There are some typical teenage dramas that you'd expect from a novel set in a boarding school: there is the bully who ends up being bullied by her own old group, but who can't shake off her own bully behavior even after Blaize and his friends take her into their own group. There is the good looking crush who ends up breaking Blaize's heart. There is the theater play that leads to a drama of its own sort, and so much more. The book never gets boring and, for a week, Blaize and his friends were with me every evening. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to learn how the story continues.