10 September 2017 @ 08:04 pm
I live on the cusp of two worlds, trying desperately to fit into one.  
I saw a recommendation on tumblr for Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller and checked it out.



Summary on the back: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map - the key to a legendary treasure trove - seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

My thoughts: This book had a slow start, and at first glance Alosa had most of the characteristics I dislike in a YA protagonist - too young, far too talented for her age, a violent, unnaturally good fighter, and annoyingly sassy - but I enjoyed the setting so I kept on reading. And before long it captured my interest. Yes, Alosa is all of the things I thought she was, and she is full of herself, but she does improve, and get layers - a tragic childhood of abuse, and a revelation as to exactly why she's so talented and unnatural - that helped change my opinion of her, and even grudgingly admit she wasn't so bad by the end. Similarly Riden starts out as relatively unlikable, but quickly grew on me, with layers of his own to uncover, and some impressive moments of self-sacrifice and honor.

The writing isn't perfect - a bit cheesy and occasionally bland - but there is some witty humor and several moments had me giggling or emotional. The darker moments don't blend well with the overall story - the writer couldn't seem to decide if she wanted a light-hearted swashbuckler or a gritty tale of a very unique girl trying to navigate a man's world - and the brief instances of torture and blood seemed entirely out of place. The real strength of the book, to me, was it's delightful concept, putting a fresh spin on the interactions of pirates and sirens. I'm actually surprised that both don't have more of a presence in YA fiction, but I'm always pleased when they appear, especially with the creativity in this plot. It was also refreshing to see a dash of the darker side of pirate and siren life, even if unpleasant - dubious consent/treatment of both women and men by the opposite gender, and violence. I did have one major issue with the way the topics were handled: while the violence/unwanted behavior of the male pirates to Alosa (and hinted at regarding other women) is rightfully and strongly condemned, the rape/murder of male sailors by female sirens is strangely romanticized as merely the way they reproduce (and one character is praised within the narrative for not trying to fight them off), which made me very uncomfortable, despite the briefness of the scene. But hopefully it's something that will addressed better in the sequel.

Despite its occasional side-eye worthy moments and imperfections, Daughter of the Pirate King was a mostly entertaining, relatively fun read that, if nothing else, left me wishing for more YA pirate books. Particularly ones with sirens.
 
 
calliope tune: "Hurt So Bad"-Lettermen
feeling: grumpy