We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler | Review

We Are Pirates | Daniel Handler
Pages: 269
Genre(s): Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Adventure
Published: Feburary 2nd 2015 | Bloomsbury USA
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Source: Publisher
Rating: Solid 3.8

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.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This opinion is my own, and will not be affected by this.

Warning: This review could be used as a college application essay. Please grab a snack & get comfortable. Apparently Tika had alot to say.


Guilty Pleasure

I liked this book . . . a whole lot more than I probably would like to admit. 

I'm a Goodreads whore. . .  and yes, I said the word whore. I spend alot of time on the site, finding new victims to read, stalking the reviews and ratings of fellow readers. We have, that is Goodreads and I, a pretty good relationship. So sometimes before I start a book, I find myself crawling my way over to GR to check out its rating, and to skim a few reviews. It was time for me to read We Are Pirates, so I wanted to get a little peak at what I was getting myself into. Let's just say that what I seen didn't leave me very optimistic . . . but it didn't exactly leave me discouraged either. We Are Pirates has a pretty low rating at just under 3 stars, and not too many great reviews. On the bright side, I've never been one to let the opinion of another sway me to NOT read something. I surprisingly didn't get the strong urge to chuck the book off in a corner, instead my reaction was the complete opposite . . . curious. Yep that's what it was, curiosity. I'm a little nosey, so I always want to see why the rating was so low, and why readers are going off in their literary rants. 

Well, I picked it up. I read it. & I liked this book . . . alot more than I probably would like to admit.

 " Fun " in dysfunction

This book was delightfully . . . strange. I enjoyed it, but then I didn't enjoy it. The book hardly made much sense, but then again it make perfect sense. I honestly never felt so dumb after finishing a book in my life! The ending was confusing, but then I understood it. Does that make me crazy, or is Daniel's writing just that good to where he makes you think you're crazy? That didn't make much sense either lol. 

If I had to sum up this book in a nutshell I'd probably describe it as a weird, but hilarious piece of adult fiction. We follow the lives of Phil and Gwen Needle. Father and daughter combo, these two were the epitome of an American family you'd see on television. The clueless mother, a father there but not really there, and a rebellious and extremely bratty daughter. Yep, classic American sitcom. Phil was a radio producer, a struggling radio producer at that, who had one sole mission in life: to pitch an "American " (here goes that word again) story to his very rich mentor Leonard Steed, so that he could also, (I'm assuming) become very rich. The poor guy just wanted to be successful! (I think Leonard was actually his boss, but again this book was a little confusing. Bare with me please.) His daughter on the other hand, wanted out of everything. The condo she lived in with her parents, the school she went to, the swim team she didn't really want to be on. She just wanted out ya know? If there was anything Phil and Gwen had in common is that they both had a burning desire to get more out of their lives.

One had a normal desire, the other . . . not so much. 

Gwen & the Neverland Pirates


I once as a young lad, used to imagine I was a pirate. My brother and I would go into our backyard to grab the biggest stick we could find, you know to use as swords. My newly bought tights would be outfitted with runs and big holes, which pissed my mom off to no end, but you weren't a grade A pirate without cool tights right? Anywho, my brother and I would battle to the deaths in the yard, trying to steal each other's boats, (wheelbarrows or wagons) and take each other's imaginary crew hostage. I would sometimes successfully, but mostly unsuccessfully win this game we played, but my brother was always a goddamn cheat! So I usually ran back into the house, crying with a pouty face because my crew was killed and my treasure was stolen. I was a little younger than Gwen when I had this fascination with pirates, and eventually I let those silly games go, but Gwen took an innocent childhood game to a whole new level.

Gwen Needle was an . . . interesting character. She had a wild imagination which came packaged with her alter ego named Octavia. Being fourteen, this wasn't really out of the ordinary to me, it was how she used her imagination that was scary. First of all, Gwen, well Octavia during these times, had mastered a great skill.  Okay I'm lying, there is nothing great about stealing, and she wasn't a master at it either, but you get where I was going with this. Eventually she was caught trying to steal a slew of things from a drugstore, and as punishment from her parents, was ordered to work in a nursing home, watching after a elderly man with Alzheimer's named Errol.

The book takes a turn down What the hell am I reading lane, as Gwen makes a new even weirder friend name Amber, and together they despise a plan to be pirates and to take to the open sea. (The San Francisco Bay that is) They round up Errol the elderly man, Manny the Haitian janitor at the nursing home, and kidnap the brother of her crush Cody. With her ragtag group of misfits, and her plan in action, they steal a boat, and embark on a journey or self-discovery and bloodshed.

More bloodshed than anything though.

Not my cup of tea . . . or was it?

I haven't had such conflicted feelings towards a book in a very, very long time. After I was finished I literally  sat there thinking, " What the hell am I going to rate this book? " You see, I didn't LOVE this story, nor did I HATE it. I'm sort of traipsing the line between the two, more so leaning towards a strong LIKE.

My biggest problem with this book was the third person POV. I've never enjoyed third person because it makes it difficult for me to connect with the story and characters. I feel like an outsider when I'm reading from this point of view, when I would much rather prefer to be in the head of the character I'm reading. I connect with them better this way, and it definitely helps to give us readers the feeling as if we're in the story ourselves. A first person point of view would have been ah-mazing for We Are Pirates. To be behind the eyes of Gwen as she killed to get what she wanted, or to be in the head of Phil, as he traveled cross-country with his creepy assistant Levine. Instead, us readers will feel like unfortunate next door neighbors, having to see the shit hit the fan from afar, not up close and personal like us nosey people would like  instead. 

Ever hear a confrontation going on outside, and you peak through your blinds to get a good vantage point, but you can't see anything, just hear bits & of what's happening? Yeah . . . that's what reading this book felt like.  Another problem I encountered was the alternating point of views. Now I love a story with this method, but it was confusing to keep up when there wasn't anything to distinguish when the point of view would be changing. Most books have alternating chapters, however, We Are Pirates had alternating paragraphs, pages, sentences . . . especially towards the end. Not to mention the pattern went sort of like this:

Phil . Gwen . Phil . Gwen . Phil . Gwen . Gwen . Gwen . Phil . Phil .

It was so confusing. I had to re-read a few pages, especially at the very end because the point of view changed without warning in the same paragraph! 

But, even with those two flaws, this book still managed to be pretty enjoyable. First of all, I haven't laughed while reading a book since I read Crash & Burn by Micheal Hassan. There were moments in the story where Errol, the elderly man with Alzheimer's would scream out, " Quiet, You Wench! " and guys I thought that was the funniest thing in the world. I even found myself telling my friends, " I'm handing out ass whoopings and lollipops, and I'm fresh out of lollipops. "  (I'm giggling as I type this lol) Ahh, this book had the right amount of humor. Oh and the characters were enjoyable as well! They were strange, creepy . . . just all around crazy, and I loved that! Mix all of that with some great writing, and you've got yourself an okay story. So if you're looking for a book that's out of the box, loaded with scenes that will have your eyes bulged out of your head, and will have you giggling at the dry humor sprinkled throughout the story, then We Are Pirates is definitely for you!

Just when I was getting the hang of writing shorter reviews, I get carried away & this happens lol. In better news, I have opened an Etsy shop, catering to those who need essays and thesis papers that will impress your teachers and or professors. Prices are reasonable. No refunds. I may or may not be joking.


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