Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
★★★☆☆ // 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Review: linked here
Sisterhood is survival. There’s a lack of actual siserhood, so guess what happened……
Caledonia Styx shows mercy to someone she should have killed at the beginning of this book, and she spends the whole book paying for that mistake afterward. I actually thought she was right to make that choice in the prologue, just with the caveat of not being duped by the Bullet she spared at the last minute. This causes her whole family to be killed (minus her younger brother) and is on a mission to take down Aric Athair, the warlord who controls the Bullet armies.
Well this certainly confirmed my thought that the WOC on this crew pull their weight meanwhile Caledonia constantly messes up that she throws herself off the boat instead of her crew doing it themselves. Instead of a Wonderwoman x Fury Road book, Seafire is more of an Oceans 8 x Fury Road.
The prose is ok but the action reads just like the slow, contemplative moments. Even though some of the writing is very reflective, it doesn’t carry much weight. Speaking of action, the book rarely gives the reader room to breathe between action scenes. There is only one instance where the story does do this, and is able to insert good character moments and have the reader take a break to process what is going on. This book is unbalanced with its action scenes like Truthwitch is. Since the main draw of Seafire is the girls in Cala’s crew, the author should consider focusing more on their stories and propelling the external plot forward with how awesome the main cast Can be.
The last third of the book picks up compared to the beginning, but the whole end conflict and tragedy could have been avoided if Pisces told Cala to get a grip before the final battle – overall there was some poor oversight in the planning of this novel. Including the fact that Oran, the Bullet boy Cala and company capture, becomes he love interest 2/3 through the book – just for funsies because this *totally* needed a romance, ammiright?
While the writing can be enjoyable, although it’s not my go-to style, some of the metaphors are stilted and deserved a rewrite. Some of the descriptions were repetitive and could have been cut out in favor of more character development.
The character concepts are great, however in practice, many of the girls just felt like names on the page. The character deaths aren’t very poignant. I actually missed both deaths when they happened. This is one of the rare times I will say that a multiple POV story would be more necessary in order to make the book effective in conveying its message. If sisterhood is survival, Cala would’ve gotten them all killed multiple times – oh wait she did.
Hime and Amina were the stand out characters. I originally laughed at Little Lovely Hime being her name, but she has a good enough backstory and concept that I can look past it, plus the reasoning for her nickname is pretty endearing. She is an (presumably Asian) recovering addict, mute, and an ex-soldier of Aldric Althairs. Amina is the ship’s engineer and leader of their rifle squad and actually volunteered to join the crew because she wanted to bring justice to the evil overlord. And oh my, I love a girl that is proactive and honorable like this. I will actually say the way Parker includes diversity in terms of skin color and race is refreshing, because there’s no stereotypical description of any WOC and it all feels natural that they are included in the world.
The book continuously *tries* to tell us that the Bullets are human too and blah blah blah, but Cala’s stupidity and eagerness to kill all Bullets when Hime was one (a Scythe, specifically? Not sure if they differentiate Bullets from Scythes) is frustrating because it’s very obvious her and Pisces brothers would have become Bullets. Her eagerness to kill Bullets out of revenge is counterproductive, and Cala’s crew continuously tell her that she has poor oversight in this situation. Cala in the prologue was a better character than Cala in the rest of this story.
Oran and Donally (despite this one not even showing up past the prologue) were surprisingly complex too. Pisces gets credit for always standing up to Cala when she makes her plentifully stupid decisions, but she’s too biased when cheerleading the same bad decisions.
There’s mentions of queer relationships on board the ship (see in my page by page updates below), but I could never figure out if anyone in the main cast was gay because much of the time they all felt like just cardboard cutouts with names. Was it Amina and Hime? Amina and Redtooth? Hime and Redtooth?? I have no clue based on the minimal interactions these girls have because it’s not explained at all through Cala’s limited perspective. If it’s there, it went over my head.
I wasn’t a fan of the nautical jargon and I have no way of confirming if all is copacetic with the technical terms beyond “belowdecks.”Sometimes the characters arrive on location randomly without ya being told they made it to land. I can deal with the anachronistic nature of the technology here, but I have no clue why they feel the need to ram each other’s boats together when they have more sophisticated tech than this.
This is an ok fluff read. There’s a lot of great concepts being thrown in, but it doesn’t feel like the story really starts until the girls and Oran encounter the queen of the Slaggers