I've been having some serious issues with sequels lately, so I'm really happy to say that I enjoyed Waking Storms nearly as much as Lost Voices. Luce is still a strong, fierce character, though she does get distracted by a boy for a while...
I actually kind of liked Dorian and Luce's relationship. Not in the way that I was really pulling for them (I mean, it's nice if they stay together, but I'm not broken up over it if they don't), though. More in the sense that it was a rather toxic relationship, but it wasn't pretending not to be. Of course, they couldn't really see past their love for each other, but they would occasionally acknowledge the fact that what they had wasn't normal and had many reasons not to work out. At times, yes, I was rolling my eyes and berating Luce (and Dorian) for being so naive, but everyone's naive at some point, right? I actually really, really like where Porter went with their relationship in the end (no spoilers.)
I also really liked that this wasn't a love story. Luce and Dorian's relationship was a main focus, but it wasn't the only focus. There was the whole thing with the mermaids falling apart because Anais is a terrible leader, humans (like, government humans) discovering the existence of mermaids, Luce struggling with the decision to be the queen everyone believes her to be, and the thing with the person on the island (I should probably figure out how to use spoiler tags). At times it felt like there was a little imbalance to the story, but I think it also spoke about the all-consuming (and not in a healthy way) relationship Luce and Dorian shared.
Porter has this way with words that can make something seem beautiful that would most likely be silly otherwise. I mean, imagine an invisible mass of voices that can poke and prod. It sounds super weird, but Porter made it seem almost natural. And the way she describes the singing is fantastic. She makes it into something you can almost see and feel as well as hear. It's not too often I come across a book whose words I find beautiful, not just the story.
The Nutshell: Waking Storms really stood out to me in a sea of "meh" sequels. Before I started I was afraid the romance might ruin the story for me since the lack of romance was one of my favorite aspects of Lost Voices, but Porter handled it well. Luce doesn't completely turn into a stupid gooey-eyed girl. She's still brave and fierce and kind-hearted. The human population discovering the mermaids as well as Luce's own personal mind-blowing discovery were a complete surprise and I'm really looking forward to seeing where Porter takes it all in the final book.
Hit (erring on the side of Direct Hit because I'm indecisive like that.)