Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

I love pirates. There's just something about the whole idea of pirates sailing the seven seas, searching for treasure, and wearing awesome clothes that intrigues me. I mean, right now, I have at least three story ideas related to pirates! Pirates are cool. So when I learned that Owl Crate's March box was themed around "Sailors, ships, and seas," which of course included a pirate related book and other items, I was ecstatic. I thought this box was catered especially for me. (And then I learn that their May box is comics related, and I'm second-guessing which box will be my favorite.)

The book selection for Owl Crate's March box was Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, a swashbuckling adventure with a sprinkle of fantasy about a girl who is the daughter of the fearsome pirate king.


Alosa has been sent on a secret mission by her father, the Pirate King, to retrieve an ancient map. But to complete her mission, she has to get captured by the enemy on purpose and pretend she doesn't want to be there. As she embarks on her mission, she finds trouble at every turn, mainly due to the first mate Riden, who continually surprises her.

My Thoughts

It didn't take me long to read Daughter of the Pirate King. It's not a terribly long book, and it's an easy read. But I still felt like I was slogging through the story. I love the pirate appeal. There aren't that many YA books centered around pirates. So while the story (and characters and world-building) could have been better, this book was still fun because... pirates.

I think one of my biggest problems with the book was Alosa. I didn't like her. Since the book is told in first person, present tense (problematic already), I had to read every single thought of hers, and it was annoying. Yes, she was strong and independent, which are admirable qualities in the world she lives in, but she also liked to go on and on about how pirates smelled or how she's had this terrible yet rewarding life. It got old real fast. Because first off, if she grew up in this setting, I doubt she'd care about pirates smelling; how would she know any different? (She also cared waaaay too much about her appearance, which irked me because... who cares? You're a freaking badass pirate lady!) Second, she told us a lot of stuff instead of showed us. She told us she was clever and could do all of this stuff, but I wanted her to show us how she could be. I also couldn't get on board with the whole "my father tortured me but now I'm stronger thing." Just no.

The other characters, including Riden, are stereotypical and forgettable. I didn't really care for any of the characters and can't even remember most of them. The only cool aspect was that Alosa captains a ship full of female pirates, who seem awesome, but again, we don't really get to see that in this book. It's mentioned, but not shown.

In addition, the world-building was wonky. These pirates were stereotypical, Pirates of the Caribbean-esque pirates. Basically, they had no depth to them. They were caricatures of pirates, which, as someone who loves pirate lore and legend, I'm tired of. There are so many eras of pirates people forget. Everybody always focuses on pirates that come straight from the so-called golden age of piracy or the buccaneer era, which is fine, but that's only like a sliver of pirate history. I want more stories that truly dive into pirate history and explore it, not just keep it the base level of: they're mean, they smell, and they live on a ship. Which is another problem I had. The story could have literally taken place anywhere because there was very little about the ship. It didn't matter that they were on the ship most of the time. They were on the ship because... they're pirates?

My other world-building problems came with how the Pirate King and the land/island chain (??) worked. It just didn't work. The location of these islands wasn't specific. I didn't know anything about these islands and what they did or who lived there. It was just all vague and undeveloped.

The writing in general is so-so. If this book had been given more time to develop and explore pirate history, adding in more showing than telling and giving more depth to the world-building and characters, it would have been much better. Where it stands now, it's not terribly bad, but it's also not the best book I've ever read. I'm contemplating whether I will even read the sequel.

Overall, Daughter of the Pirate King is a fun pirate story. It's nothing too in-depth, but it has the pirate-y feel and a decent story line. Aspects of it could have been better, of course, but there were some good interesting and creative twists to the plot. If you want to read more YA pirate books, read Daughter of the Pirate King for what it is: a fun, pirate tale.

Items from the March Owl Crate box: "Sailors, ships, and seas."

What other pirate-themed stories do you love? Leave me recommendations in the comments!

~I received Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller in the March Owl Crate monthly subscription box, which I purchased with my own money. I chose to write a book review of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~

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