Seafire (Seafire #1), by Natalie C. Parker
Publish Date: August 28, 2018
Published by: Razorbill
Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received an ARC of this from the publisher at BookCon 2018 in return for an honest review.**
After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one misson: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.
But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all…or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?
So this book was a bit of a journey for me. Going into it I thought for sure I was going to love it – strong women, ships at sea, the fight against tyranny – but for some reason things just didn’t click for me right away. I don’t know if it was a mood thing (I had just spent a lot of time reading and needed a bit of a break), or if it was the writing itself, but I honestly didn’t feel that invested in the characters or the story until close to the end of the book. But when I did finally feel a stirring of interest, it kind of bloomed quickly and had me completely invested until the end.
I think one of the main reasons why I had trouble getting into the book was because of Caledonia. She is a difficult MC for me to enjoy and connect with. While I can respect her for her strength and determination, her stubbornness and inability to realize that her own personal experiences are not the same for others had me extremely frustrated and annoyed at her for most of the novel. One of the things I absolutely loathe is using a lack of communication to create conflict in a plot. And Caledonia does just that – from the beginning to almost the end, she withholds a vital piece of information to her best friend and closest sister, Pisces, with the usual reason of “oh but she’ll hate me I can’t stand losing her that way,” instead of trusting the girl who has been by her side for four years to be a little more forgiving and understanding than that.
On the other hand, I really did enjoy the relationships between all the girls, especially Cala and Pi, who, despite arguing and seeing things differently from time to time, always stood by each other. And Pisces never hesitated to tell Caledonia like it is, pointing out the truth of herself to her and making her see her flaws. It was actually kind fo refreshing in a way to see that sort of friendship in a book, although, again, so much of it could have been alieviated if Cala had just told Pi why she behaved the way she did in certain situations.
The plot was good, with some really excellent world-building, but for the first chunk of the story felt like it was just one thing after another with almost no breather room to really get to know the characters. Parker made a decent attempt to showcase the personalities of the main crew, giving small background tidbits of them here and there, but I just never felt like it was enough for me. Maybe towards the end I felt like I knew them all a bit better, but it took a really long time to, it felt like. Amongst this, though, there was definitely a lot of action, a lot of disasters following along behind each other, but also the strength of the crew pushing forward. Again, I had trouble really finding a connection to any of these moments, though, because at this point everything felt like an unnecessary drag on the over-arcing plot, but I keep reminding myself that everything that happens in the book is part of that plot and all of it is leading to the crew’s end goal. It’s unfortunate that my mood (re: lack of desire to read in general) affected so much of my time reading this book, because it had me uninterested in so many important and telling moments of the novel.
In the end I really think I enjoyed this book, and as I let it settle on me I will probably have more enjoyable thoughts about it in reflection. I loved the story it told, about sisterhood and family, and the fight to stay together while also getting back at the one who tore everything apart in the first place. The world-building was so unique and painted such an amazing picture of what these girls live in, and my one issue is that there wasn’t a map to really get a better idea of their travels. But I will say I am a little annoyed at the end, because the way she left things I would very much like the next book as soon as possible, please. That was definitely a bold move on how to end the story, and while part of me loves it, the other part of me is wondering if some pages got left out of my ARC or something. Guess I will just have to see in a couple weeks.