Book Review: Song of the Oceanides by J.G. Zymbalist

kindle-oceanides-coverTitle: Song of the Oceanides
Author: JG Zymbalist
Genre: YA/NA fantasy/steampunk
Age Group: Young Adult and Up
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Song of the Oceanides is a quirky but poignant coming-of-age tale about children, Martians, freaky Martian hummingbird moths, and alluring sea nymphs.

The first thread relates the suspenseful tale of a Martian girl, Emmylou, stranded in Maine where she is relentlessly pursued by the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s Extraterrestrial-Enigma Service.  The second thread concerns her favorite Earthling comic-book artist, Giacomo Venable, and all his misadventures and failed romances.  The final thread deals with a tragic young lad, Rory Slocum, who, like Emmylou, loves Giacomo’s comic books and sees them as a refuge from the sea nymphs or Oceanides incessantly taunting and tormenting him.

As much as anything, the triple narrative serves to show how art may bring together disparate pariahs and misfits—and give them a fulcrum for friendship and sense of communal belonging in a cruel world.

I had no expectations coming in and reading Song of the Oceanides – the combination of Martians, Martian hummingbird moths, sea nymphs, and artists, seemed like it could either go extremely wrong or extremely right. It certainly didn’t sound like any books I had ever read before. Turns out, it all worked out rather well, and even if the combination of all those different characters sounds implausible, it’s actually a very intriguing story that interconnects these different characters.

What connects the characters primarily is the Song of the Oceanides. Completely explaining what it is would spoil some elements from the book, but it connects two stranded girls, one of them a Martian named Emmylou, with a comic book artist named Giacomo Venable, and with Rory Slocum, a young man relentlessly tormented by sea nymphs.

The characters had a lot of depth and personality, particularly Giacomo. The story surprised me quite a few times, and although it took a while to read the book (it’s a huge tome at 766 pages), I enjoyed it.


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