Monday, June 3, 2013
ARC Review: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Title: The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2)
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
It seems to be a trend this year that every series finale disappoints me, in one way or another. As such, it was probably foolish of me to expect any better from The Pirate's Wish, but I did. I had high expectations for this novel - very high expectations - and while I certainly enjoyed the quick read it provided, it isn't the memorable novel that its predecessor was. And, frankly, I think this conclusion could have been better - a lot better - but I suspect that those thoughts belong solely with me. If The Pirate's Wish hadn't resorted to using some of the classic trends I dislike, perhaps this novel would have worked out better for me. Perhaps.
The Pirate's Wish starts off directly where The Assassin's Curse ends with Ananna and Naji stranded on an island, waiting for their pirate friend, Marjani, to pick them up so they can somehow break the curse Naji is under. Within the first three chapters of this book itself, a few important events occur that more-or-less chart the course for this novel and, consequently, my enjoyment of it. First and foremost, Ananna finds and befriends a manticore, striking a deal to deliver her back to her homeland if she refuses to eat Ananna or Naji. While the friendship between this protagonist and mythical beast cannot rival those in other novels such as Stormdancer, it is a cute addition to the tale that I found myself greatly enjoying. It is then, though, that the manticore convinces Ananna to kiss Naji in his sleep, thereby fulfilling one of the three tasks they must complete. And Ananna does. And, at that point, all hell breaks loose.
What The Pirate's Wish has in plentifold is creativity, action, and drama. Clarke continues to amaze me when it comes to the sheer span of imagination she has. Like its predecessor, this installment continues to impress in terms of world-building, magic, and new faces and realms both. Additionally, with a crew of pirates, action is never far behind and, once again, I greatly enjoyed this feature. Yet, side-by-side with these is a rather heavy dose of drama. Ananna, from the beginning of this novel itself, is cast as a heroine facing unrequited love and, as such, her mood swings and feelings for Naji are constantly changing - enough to give me a headache. Although Ananna is still the headstrong heroine we fell in love with in The Assassin's Curse, she has a new, mopier side to her too that we now get to see. Yay. -.-
Quite honestly, Ananna is the sole reason I was so disappointed with this novel. Although I sympathize with Ananna's situation, I wish that her character could have grown from this event, not remained static. Ananna could have developed to be the type of protagonist who doesn't allow a small set-back to overturn her life, but unfortunately, that isn't the case. Ananna makes a big deal out of Naji not loving her back, constantly putting herself down and jumping to the conclusion that no man can ever love her. Furthermore, she resorts to childish behavior, ignoring Naji and taking every opportunity she has to flirt with other men in an effort to make him jealous. Not only is this a typical trend in literature, it's one I've grown exasperated with. All the more, I wish the purpose of The Pirate's Wish was to convey to readers that girls can be headstrong and find meaning in life from themselves or others around them, not men. While Ananna does have some very interesting conversations with Marjani (fine, one to be exact), none of this courage is exhibited through her actions and she relies on Naji to feel good about herself, all throughout the novel. Folks, I cannot tell you how much it physically pains me to see a bright, strong, and ambitious girl reliant on a man to feel happy. Physical. Pain.
Yet, Clarke continues to use very standard tropes when it comes to the romance in this novel. As a fantasy author, she relies on magic to mysteriously throw her characters together instead of conversation or character development. While there continues to be plenty of tension between Ananna and Naji, when you strip away the magic, all that's left are two vulnerable, shy people who lack the faith in themselves to approach one another. In fact, if this was a contemporary novel, Ananna and Naji wouldn't even have found love together. Without the element of magic in their lives to bind them and tell them what they can't tell each other, their story would fail to move forward. Granted, this is a fantasy series and as an author, Clarke has the full capability to do what she wants with her stories, but what this does for me as a reader is cheapen the actual relationship as it fails to build upon a foundation of friendship or conversation. If you'd ask me how invested I was in this relationship after The Assassin's Curse, my praise would likely know no stopping point but that excitement gradually declined over the course of this story. Without much conversation, this love story fell flat for me.
In fact, the best part about it was within the last chapter, but by then I'm afraid this book was too far gone to salvage my disappointed heart. Nevertheless, The Pirate's Curse is an action-packed follow-up novel that I am confident many readers will love. Unfortunately, I'm simply not one of them.