Alice's Reviews > Seafire

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
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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.

This is more Oceans 8 x Fury Road rather than Wonderwoman 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?

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.” While the writing can be enjoyable, 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. 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.
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Reading Progress

April 7, 2018 – Shelved
April 7, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
September 8, 2018 – Shelved as: cover-love
September 9, 2018 – Started Reading
September 10, 2018 –
page 6
1.6% "This book told me the premise in 6 pages and I'm so glad hallelujah"
September 12, 2018 –
page 12
3.21% "This actually has a lot of potential"
September 12, 2018 –
page 26
6.95% "Instead of saying "too sweet," you know the word cloy exists."
September 12, 2018 –
page 27
September 12, 2018 –
page 30
8.02% "This book isn't bad at all so far. I'm pleased. Besides idk wtf names Little Lovely Hime and Redtooth are."
September 13, 2018 –
page 45
12.03% "I can’t take a book that named a character Little Lovely Hime seriously. You’re not a shoujo manga even"
September 13, 2018 –
page 46
12.3% "Redtooth: it’s rude to interrupt
She says this but she’s the one that interrupted OTL"
September 13, 2018 –
page 46
12.3% "Redtooth: it’s rude to interrupt
She says this but she’s the one that interrupted OTL"
September 13, 2018 –
page 55
14.71% "This woman is named Far because her age exceeds all the other ages of the girls by far."
September 14, 2018 –
page 59
15.78% "What is this little room she’s talking about???"
September 14, 2018 –
page 69
18.45% "The prose is kind of weird in terms of where stuff is placed"
September 14, 2018 –
page 82
21.93% "They just skipped the chance to make this emotionally impactful but alright as you were"
September 14, 2018 –
page 90
September 14, 2018 –
page 100
26.74% "If Cala and Pisces KNOW the villain takes in boys at a young age to train as soldiers and they didn't see their brothers' bodies after that day, did it really take 4 years for them to piece together that their brothers might be alive???? Answer - yes"
September 14, 2018 –
page 102
27.27% "Amina has more charisma than Cala by a long shot. Can she be captain and the MC instead? Please?"
September 14, 2018 –
page 113
30.21% "The passage here says "The two hulls are separated. Only the external is insulated and harged with lethal voltage.. the second your hull touches theirs that charge transfers to your ship..."

I'm not en engineer but... how can the insulated layer be charged?? I know you can by friction, but it doesnt sound like this is a frictional charge. I'd assume there's another outer layer after the insulation??? idk"
September 14, 2018 –
page 160
42.78% "Cala is incredibly bland but her supporting cast is actually interesting"
September 15, 2018 –
page 174
46.52% "You know the fact that the main girl is making bad decisions and all the rest of her supporting cast is like WOC except Redtooth and yes-manning her is just so... typical."
September 15, 2018 –
page 190
50.8% "17 year old Cala is better than 21 year old Cala sorry not sorry"
September 15, 2018 –
page 196
52.41% "Pisces is best girl she’s laying the truth in front of Cala"
September 16, 2018 –
page 206
55.08% "Wow this has the same problem as Truthwitch they don't give you much breathing room between the action scenes."
September 19, 2018 –
page 215
57.49% "Caledonia, your brother is a "dirty Bullet" so hush and listen to your friends"
September 19, 2018 –
page 220
58.82% "This is probably one of the only times where I'll say more POVs are necessary for a book because the rest of the girls are all vastly more interesting than Caledonia."
September 19, 2018 –
page 256
68.45% "Finally this book lets the reader breathe with character moments instead of a constant series of battles. And yet. Still almost everyone is overshadowing the MC"
September 19, 2018 –
page 257
68.72% "Suddenly Oran is the love interest 66% through the book wow"
September 19, 2018 –
page 271
72.46% "Psh ok I wouldn’t say Cala is a queen. if anyone’s royalty it’s Hime"
September 19, 2018 –
page 303
81.02% "Nautical jargon does not compute. Also lampshading a character’s fatal flaw doesn’t mean you’re actually doing anything with it beyond acknowledging it is there..."
September 21, 2018 –
page 310
82.89% "Is Pisces actually a mermaid"
September 21, 2018 –
page 322
86.1% "“Some bathed, some slept, some shit their doors and spent their energy on one another”

That’s so non-descript but so gay at the same time. Y’all told me there werent gay characters but here they are, rather inconspicuously included"
September 21, 2018 –
page 325
86.9% "“There was an unfamiliar warmth growing in her chest”
You should get that checked"
September 21, 2018 –
page 334
89.3% "This is less Wonderwoman and more Oceans 8 in that we don’t visit any of these girls stories too in depth and every problem gets solved within like one chapter"
September 21, 2018 –
page 339
90.64% "They write action scenes the same way they write contemplative prose."
September 21, 2018 –
page 340
90.91% "Wow suddenly Amina is really stupid for no reason"
September 21, 2018 –
page 341
91.18% "Nvm it was Cala being stupid all along"
September 21, 2018 –
page 345
92.25% "THAT WAS A STUPID FIGHT. If Pisces hadn’t waited till the very end to tell Cala to idk take prisoners this wouldn’t have happened lmao"
September 21, 2018 –
page 358
95.72% "Yeah Calas right it is her own fault stop trying to prove her wrong, Pisces"
September 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
October 7, 2018 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy I hope you talk about the ending in your review (in spoiler tags, of course). I really want to hear a summary of this one -- the plot arc, and where the plot ends on this. And if it introduces a cliffhanger (or closes on a giant cliffhanger) or not.

Alice Basically the two main girls lose their brothers in a pirate raid and those brothers are recruited into the evil overlord of this series’ crew and are forced to get addicted to an orange drug made from the flowers on the cover. The girls learn their brothers are alive from a boy they take captive who used to work for the evil overlord and try to save them and so there’s a series of boat fights where the girls crew get from point A to B without much breathing room. The MC distrusts everyone and her character arc is to trust in her crew (kinda boring). Her distrust stems from her showing mercy to a boy under the command of the evil overlord in the prologue and being betrayed by him.

All the other girls play second fiddle to boring girl while simultaneously being more intriguing than her. There’s a randomly thrown in romance with the boy they take captive and the MC which should not shock anyone, but it’s still random.

*spoiler spoiler spoiler*
There’s a soft cliffhanger at the end because this is intended to be a trilogy, though it’s pretty clear what the main goal for the next book is - they still have to find one of the brothers.

message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy Alice wrote: "and are forced to get addicted to an orange drug made from the flowers on the cover."

Mmm. Strong "Six of Crows" vibes there.

Alice wrote: "her character arc is to trust in her crew (kinda boring)"

Not surprising. Ensemble casts are very hard to do well. Especially if this is the author's first novel. (I don't know if she has unpublished manuscripts, but I think this was a debut, so the first one ever published, at least.) Even for experienced authors though, ensemble casts are difficult.

Alice wrote: "a randomly thrown in romance"

Ugh. Those are the worst. :(

Alice wrote: "There’s a soft cliffhanger at the end"

Points for that, at least. I *hate* mid-scene-stop cliffhanger endings. I wish that trend would just die. A soft cliffhanger is much better than what many other recent books do.

Thank you VERY MUCH for all of that information! I look forward to your full review, including a vlog review if you do one. ^.^

Alice This book actually deals with the drug addiction and withdrawal that comes with it, so I’d say this is actually a better use of the forced drug addiction via evil overlord trope.

I actually prefer the cliffhanger here to a lot of other cliffhangers in recent memory. It’s not midscene. We actually finish off the book’s events, so it doesn’t feel like an incomplete book in that respect. The fact the plot doesn’t pick up until too late makes it feel unfinished, but the cliffhanger had nothing to do with that.

message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy Alice wrote: "The fact the plot doesn’t pick up until too late makes it feel unfinished"

What is especially bizarre here is that this book is more plot-focused than character-focused (the ensemble cast detracts from the central protagonist, and that creates even more problems for the protagonist's love story, which then feels random), and yet the book still has a plot that "doesn't pick up until too late." Ugh. I say again: ensemble casts are hard to do well.

message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy I came across this blog post in which the author talks about her ship tech in this book --

And, yeah, it's clearly just made-up futuristic stuff. She definitely wanted to focus on sustainable ship tech and didn't consider "sustainable death tech" -- which would have been ship mines, torpedoes, (is there even sonar in this book??), deck missiles, etc. etc. Using ships to ram into other ships is incredibly juvenile. If your own ship is used as a battering ram, you could sink it. This author "grew up in a Navy family" so I know she must know better; she just chose to write it this way, I guess because it's something Hollywood would put in a movie and we all know how accurate action movies are. (sarcasm)

Interestingly, the author's bio states that she is married to a woman. "She runs Madcap Retreats with her wife." I don't know what a Madcap Retreat is, but I hope it's something fun.

Alice Yeah I’m not gonna bother trying to make sense of the tech, it’s probably better that I don’t. I believe the author is married to fellow author Tessa Gratton, who’s mentioned in the acknowledgements of Seafire.

message 8: by Melissa (last edited Sep 27, 2018 07:18PM) (new)

Melissa Stacy Alice wrote: "I believe the author is married to fellow author Tessa Gratton, who’s mentioned in the acknowledgements"

Given that one of the biggest complaints of this book is that there was barely any mention of queer pirate love, it comes as a shock to me that the author is a lesbian, and still didn't write any lesbian love in this book.

Alice There’s like one sentence about it explicitly but the girls involved are unnamed. I was also really confused whether anyone in the inner circle were in relationships together but it was so vaguely described I couldn’t figure it out.

There’s just so much about this book that seemed to miss the mark. I suppose it’s fans are just happy they aimed in the right general direction.

message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Stacy Alice wrote: "There’s just so much about this book that seemed to miss the mark."

If the military tech had been well done in this book, I would have read it. But knowing that it's just a lot of jargon and nonsense, I truly have no interest.

Alice wrote: "There’s like one sentence about it explicitly but the girls involved are unnamed."

It's really too bad that this was it for lesbian representation in this book. Authors frequently shy away from intimate, sexual relationships that develop in situations like this: same-sex ship crews, infantry troops, mining camps, etc. Anywhere groups of people are in isolated, stressful situations, sex is going on for multiple reasons; not just for power and dominance (though rape is certainly part of it), but as a mechanism of surviving a hostile and often traumatic experience (i.e. love and connection). The research data is there, authors just keep flinching and keeping it out of their fiction.

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