Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Tor Teen (3.6.2018)
ARC, 384 pages
Source: From the author
Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she's meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council's favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.
Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president's son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam's safe return.
When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.
Kristen sure has a way with writing characters and building worlds! There wasn’t a huge amount of action in the first half because she spent a lot of time really building up those parts. And it made them feel so vivid and real! The pacing is a bit slow to start, but it gives you time to savor the world and understand it, and also savor the character development.
Kristen also has a way of writing an empowering story of the underdog. (And a sweet romance to go with it!) I loved Marin’s story and her background. She was a badass without being too badass, which made her relatable. Did I mention she was a pirate?! Heck yes. Her character was inspiring and I found myself rooting for her! I also enjoyed the slow burn of the romance between Marin and Ross. It’s kind of a star crossed romance because they both come from such separate ends of the spectrum – Ross is the rich president’s son who has everything, and Marin is a poor Shoreling with basically nothing. It was interesting to see them thrown together and for Ross to see from the perspective of the other side.
This story is scary because it could happen. Even scarier because it did happen. It’s based heavily off of the Japanese Internment. For those of you who read this book, I urge you to read Kristen’s afterword where she tells the story of her great grandmother and Pearl Harbor. It’s heartbreaking and goes a long way toward understanding the foundation of this book! The significance of it all is beautiful, really.
Significance of the story aside, the world itself is also terrifying because it seems viable. Extreme climate change has melted the polar ice caps and rendered much of the planet uninhabitable due to heat. An outbreak of Malaria wipes out 5.3 billion people. Oil is running low. Animals are going extinct and most only exist in preserves. It’s honestly terrifying! Despite having similarities with many post-apocalyptic novels, I haven’t read anything like it before. I thought the idea of gomi – piled up trash – was brilliant. It makes sense that in the future the trash would be taking over. There are ‘icebergs’ of it in the ocean, and Marina’s hometown is an actual island made of trash. Yikes. (Um, the ‘bocas’ were HORRIFYING. It reminded me of sinkholes, which I have an strong and possibly irrational fear of…)
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5