Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler

Genres: Adventure, Dark Comedy, Adult
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: ARC from publisher

Add on Goodreads

A boat has gone missing. Goods have been stolen. There is blood in the water. It is the twenty-first century and a crew of pirates is terrorizing the San Francisco Bay.

Phil is a husband, a father, a struggling radio producer, and the owner of a large condo with a view of the water. But he’d like to be a rebel and a fortune hunter.

Gwen is his daughter. She’s fourteen. She’s a student, a swimmer, and a best friend. But she’d like to be an adventurer and an outlaw.

Phil teams up with his young, attractive assistant. They head for the open road, attending a conference to seal a deal.

Gwen teams up with a new, fierce friend and some restless souls. They head for the open sea, stealing a boat to hunt for treasure.

We Are Pirates is a novel about our desperate searches for happiness and freedom, about our wild journeys beyond the boundaries of our ordinary lives.

Also, it’s about a teenage girl who pulls together a ragtag crew to commit mayhem in the San Francisco Bay, while her hapless father tries to get her home.
This was, my first book by Daniel Handler. I’ve read all the books he has written as Lemony Snicket but none that he has written as Daniel Handler. I must say, I am shocked. I guess this is how JK Rowling fans felt when they read The Casual Vacancy expecting it to remind them of their(our) beloved Harry Potter series but instead got something else. I can see his signature humor in this book but it’s darker in ways the humor in The Series of Unfortunate Event books weren’t. At first I was so thrown off that I had to take a break. Then I picked it up again ready to give it another shot and I was soon sucked it. I read the first half a lot quickly than I had expected but when I came to the second half, I was shocked again because it is then the darkness in these characters emerged. I guess I was so thrown off because you don’t imagine these kids could do something so bad but then they do and you’re shocked and a little outraged that the author would make them do something like that but in the end, I understood.

In the light of recent events involving the author, I was more than a little hesitant going into the book, not even accounting for the fact that I was completely unprepared for the journey Handler would take me on. I have to say, I still haven’t quite made up my mind about the book. Is it absolutely brilliant or is it just a horrid book?

I think it may be a mix of both. I believe the brilliance lies in the way the author exaggerates the experiences of these characters yet he mixes it with a heavy dose of reality. This book can be divided into the real and relateable and the exaggerated and perhaps a tad gruesome. Which is why I think this book isn’t for every reader. Some people will love the book and others will hate it.

It’s hard for there to be any middle ground in terms of how one will feel about the book not just because of the comedic gruesomeness  but also because of the way the author writes the book. His writing style is such that it is bound to confuse the reader, but purposefully. To the point where you might even question what is real, like I did.  The author flips between POVs and sometimes, there isn’t a transition. Sometimes you just need to figure out whose voice it is you’re reading. It’s definitely a pain but it also adds a certain character to the story.

One of the POVs this book it told in is Phil’s. Some might think Phil to be pathetic and that he is. But to me, he is realistically flawed. He made certain choices (or did he?? Handler never really makes it clear) and maybe they weren’t right but he has reached a certain part in his life where things become dull. He is missing a certain spark from his life and he doesn’t know why. It may be why he does what he does (if he does it). I personally didn’t like him until we got to see him after his daughter disappears. In the beginning I wasn’t really ready to like him but when you see the shock he is in when his daughter disappears. He seems real. He seems like someone who isn’t sure what they want but at the same time he cares about the people in his life, he cares about his daughter. He may not be fast on his feet, he may not have even helped the investigation, he may have just stayed in shock the entire time but the affect the event has on him makes him someone you cannot help but empathize with.

Gwen, his daughter, is the second POV the story is written from. She on the other hand is harder to like but in her own way is relateable. She is so brash but at the same time, underneath all that  teenage angst, she is someone who believes she is unwanted. She feels like she doesn't matter and what she wants is purpose. She wants something bigger, she wants to feel uncharge. She wants to not care about the things people may say about her and she doesn’t want to care that she may or may not be an unwanted child. Her actions however, make her seem a little psychotic! I don’t want to spoil exactly what happens when she and her rag tag group decide to be pirates and sail off, but believe me when I say it’s a little scary! I had to put the book down for a while before I felt ready to pick up where I had left off.

The rag tag group is made of a bunch of interesting characters (who I will let you meet on your own). Their journey is comedic but at the same time it’s terrifying! In some round about way, I can see people’s desperation to get away leading them to do things they might not do otherwise without even considering the consequences.

This book though, isn’t really about their adventure as pirates, no matter how much we wish it could be. Instead, this is more of a character driven book, focusing on the characters and their development and seeing how circumstances make them the people they are.

So no, this book isn’t so much fun as it is, but I’d still recommend it for those of you who think they are up for a story about people and how deep down, we are all pirates.

No comments:

Post a Comment