Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: February 2nd 2012
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Nothing has been normal since Vanessa Sands learned that her sister Justine was murdered by sirens and everything she believed about herself and her family was a lie.
Vanessa worries that if her boyfriend, Simon, finds out who - or what - she truly is, he'll run a mile. Or she'll push him away because of her new, fatal thirst for seduction...
And now the sirens are back for revenge. One by one, they turn everyone against her just when she needs them most. It's time for Vanessa to face her past and accept she is just like her enemies - every bit as alluring and every bit as dangerous.
Will she dare to use her powers against her own kind to save the people she loves? (from back cover)
Note: before the review, I would just like to clear up some confusion. For some reason, a lot of people think Pulse is book three in the Siren trilogy - it is not. It is the UK edition of Undercurrent, book two. It is exactly the same as the book two in the US, but with a different cover and name. Hope that helps!
I actually liked Pulse more than its predecessor, Siren. A lot of people have said there was too much boy drama, but I guess I must be a fan, because I really enjoyed it. I think there was a great mix of drama and mystery in this one, with the same eerie vibe from book one, and while I wasn’t happy with a few of the old characters, I loved finding out about some of the new ones.
Vanessa was a changed person in Pulse. Though she tried to go back to living her old life, the transformation her body had undergone made this impossible. She was a siren now, and there was nothing she could do about it. She needed to drink saltwater and bathe in it. She attracted the attention of men everywhere she went, and what was worse was that it made her stronger. Sometimes she needed it. Sometimes she craved it. I really appreciated the sort of hopelessness of her situation. Throughout the whole of this book, and the last book, sirens were portrayed as almost evil creatures that hunted men for sport. Now, Vanessa was one. As much as she didn’t want to be, there was no changing it. She was forced to deal with it. It was completely unfair and I could definitely feel for her. She didn’t want to hurt people, but it seemed liked she was hurting people without even meaning to. She was completely stuck with this terrible ordeal. While I do think she did some stupid things, I could sort of understand how she was feeling. She was confused and scared and didn’t know what to do anymore. For a person who had just gone through a huge physical change, who had been lied to their whole life and who had just lost their only sister, I think Vanessa did pretty well not have a complete emotional breakdown.
Vanessa and Simon’s relationship really took a turn for the worse in this book. Mostly because of Vanessa and her actions, which I will admit would push any boy away. As Vanessa was a siren, she attracted boys really easily. It’d be unusual for then not to notice her. Enter Parker King. Initially quite indifferent towards Vanessa, he began to take more and more interest in her. But more on him later. For now, I will just say that Simon noticed. Simon saw that Vanessa was becoming more detached. She was scared he only loved her because of her siren powers, and wasn’t sure if he loved her just for her. She was trying to protect him, but only made things worse. And her hanging out with Parker didn’t help things either. She was unintentionally connecting with him, and though perhaps she could have prevented some things for happening, she couldn’t deny that she was drawn to him. Simon, as Betty said, would not be enough for a siren like Vanessa. As much as I did like Simon in book one, I felt he sort of lost some of his appeal in this one. He didn’t really do much at all, and wasn’t the same quirky, committed guy he was in book one. Then after Parker, he practically ignored her until the end (and Vanessa seriously didn’t help herself – she didn’t even explain her actions, which baffled me). [Mini-spoiler, highlight to view]While I completely understand why Simon said he needed time to think about their relationship (anyone would be angry after all that, I sympathise with him entirely),[/spoiler] I just felt less interested in his character. Like some of the connection he and Vanessa had in the first book was missing, right from the beginning of Pulse. I was much more interested in finding out about Parker.
Parker King was probably the most interesting character in Pulse, for me. I really liked him and enjoyed every scene he was in. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles, but I liked this because while Vanessa did truly love Simon, she needed Parker in a different way. And Parker...well, I think he was more than just the reputation he had. The descriptions of him were very telling (you’ll see what I mean when you read the book). He wasn’t just your usual second guy in a love triangle. He was much more. He had his own problems, especially with his father. And he was a nice guy, despite everything. He was funny and smart. He was willing to be there for Vanessa. How much of that that was Vanessa’s siren allure, I don’t know. That’s probably what upset me most. I really wished for Parker and Vanessa’s relationship to be real, something more than just her powers at work. But I’m not sure how much of it was real and how much wasn’t. It all seemed so natural. Parker really did seem to just grow to care about Vanessa. But who can be sure? Vanessa certainly wasn’t. She knew this was the work of her power, but what she felt for Parker – those were her own emotions there. No matter how much she told herself she loved Simon, she liked spending time with Parker. Things felt right with Parker. It was all very confusing and mixed up. One minute you really thought that Vanessa was supposed to be with Simon and that Parker was just a guy under the siren spell – and the next minute, it wasn’t so clear. Part of Vanessa did need Parker, and that part wouldn’t just go away.
Another part of Pulse I enjoyed was the introduction of Willa. We didn’t get to know much about her because she was only introduced towards the end (Vanessa should have confronted her father much earlier, in my opinion) but I have a feeling we’ll get to know more about her in the next book. I did miss Caleb in this one, however, he was barely in it, and Paige didn’t have much of a role until the end. I hope we get to see more of those two in book 3, and more of another certain someone who appears at the end of this book.
The story in Pulse was probably a little slower than Siren. Not a lot happened in the first half, except Vanessa questioning her sanity, seeing strange vision of sirens that were supposed to be dead, but I liked that. We really got into Vanessa’s mind, and how unsure of herself she was. Was she seeing things? Or was something bad going to happen? The second half was when things really picked up, though. There were some huge twists I honestly could not have guessed, and while I think again the conflict may have been resolved too quickly, the ending definitely left me eager for more.
Overall, Pulse was an excellent sequel. I may be a minority in believing it was better than the first, but anyone who enjoyed Siren should definitely give it a go. I’m officially really excited for book three – I can’t wait! Though I have a feeling things may not go as I hope...