Mega-best-selling author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) gives us his long-awaited new novel for adult listeners: a dark, rollicking, stunningly entertaining human comedy.
A boat has gone missing. Goods have been stolen. There is blood in the water. It is the 21st 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 14. 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.
I honestly do not know what Mr. Handler was thinking. If ever there was a case of a book's description differing from the actual content, this is it. I do not mean that the book blurb is misleading. I mean that the reviews are misleading; the people I rely on for thoughtful objective appraisal let me down. I consider myself a fan of Handler. That combined with the encouraging reviews I had seen made me look forward to this book. And there are certainly elements of this book that work well. He is very good at creating characters with individual thought processes and motivations. He is very good at bouncing these characters off each other with believable results. Those are not key characteristics of his Lemony Snicket books, but they are keenly in evidence here.
There are three things in particular that bothered me about We Are Pirates. One is that the key plot elements suggested a resolution that was serious, nuanced, and thoughtful; but instead he opted to go for a totally outrageous, over-the-top wackiness. This is one of those books where adults are basically clueless, and headstrong adolescents have nothing to rein them in. If it had been comedic that might have worked. I like dark comedy as much as anyone, but this was dark without the comedy. The second is that the author withheld information that one of the characters clearly knew from the start. This would have worked if the revelation had been especially important and transformative, but it wasn't. In fact, it ended tragically and pathetically. The third and worst offense is that a horrendously evil act occurs and there is no remorse, no consequences, no catharsis, no apotheosis, no personal growth; just a "let's pretend it never happened and get on with our lives" sort of thing.
The absence of remorse still bothers me the most.
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Would you listen to We Are Pirates again? Why?
Probably not. I read about 100 books a year. I really don't have time to re read.
What was one of the most memorable moments of We Are Pirates?
I loved when we discovered who the opening narrator was. It made the story even better.
Which character – as performed by Jonathan Todd Ross – was your favorite?
Errol was my favorite. "I have a problem with my memory."
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Any additional comments?
When I was offered this book I jumped at the chance to review this book. I am a fan of the Lemony Snicket books and so was excited to read a book by this author for adults. I listened to the Audible production of the book. I must say that Jonathan Todd Ross did an AMAZING job of bringing this story to life with his voice. There are 2 young girls an elderly gentleman, several adult males, and adult females. Ross uses his voice masterfully though out this book. bringing each character his or her own sound thus never losing the listener. That is super important when listening to an audio book. The story is a little slow to get going. I find this to be true of all stories that really develop the psyche of the characters. Handler is no different. Where he is different is in how he weaves surprises into the story to trickle out rather than have them all happen at the end. I really liked the way this story developed and the pace. I found my self looking for a quite place to listen. I didn't want to be interrupted even for a minute. Each time you think you know what is about to happen Handler surprises you with a better story.
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