DNF’d it: We are Pirates by Daniel Handler

February 27, 2015 Book Review, DNF 6 DNF

DNF’d it: We are Pirates by Daniel HandlerWe Are Pirates by Daniel Handler
on February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Mega-bestselling author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) gives us his long-awaited and most ambitious novel yet: 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 twenty-first 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 fourteen. 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’ve never actually read any of the Lemony Snicket books so I wasn’t doing any comparison here with WE ARE PIRATES. I thought the premise sounded good so I was excited to give it a try. The cover is gorgeous. That big red slash you see across the bottom half of the image depicted with only the book title is just a “half dust jacket” that covers the actual bottom half of the embossed hardcover illustration. The rest of the image is of the pirate ship, I think the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the water and the title swirling in a whirlpool. Definitely lovely. This is only a 269 page book, pretty short yes? I made it 76 pages this morning from 4am to 8am, that’s roughly 28% (yes I calculated it)…that is a LONG time for me to read 76 pages. But why? Because it was unfortunately very boring for me. How can I describe why I was bored…there was just a stream of events that I really couldn’t see the point in them even being there – as if it was just pages of filler. The POVs alternate between adult Phil and his 14 year old daughter Gwen. Essentially they are just going about their daily lives. Gwen seems like the typical teenager who feels unloved and unwanted and Phil a pretty oblivious adult. Gwen getting caught shoplifting and her being sent as punishment to work at a retirement home as a companion for an old navy veteran who has Alzheimer’s are the most exciting parts. Phil and his new secretary and their mishap of not being to catch a flight is a few pages before I gave up. There were things happening that I thought – ok this is going to go somewhere, and I very well think it likely would have but things just weren’t gripping enough for me to stay around. I didn’t like either one of the characters. I was skeptical in the beginning because of the writing style. It just doesn’t flow well and as each sentence goes by it made me wonder at the slightly odd sentence structure and pacing. It doesn’t read comfortably. I either got used to it as the pages progressed or it settled into an easier flow. That however isn’t why I gave up. It boils down to, I realized this book was completely contemporary and seeing as there was pretty much a whole lot of nothing going on I didn’t want to keep pushing forward hoping I would enjoy it when I was already by that point not enjoying it. I have to admit I was fooled by the blurb endorsements on the back of the hardcover with “WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK” – I should have taken that as a clue that the “have said about the author and his work” would not apply to THIS book. Because I did not in any way find it dazzling, exhilarating, exuberantly funny, lyrical, gorgeous, virtuosic, original, fearless, hip, shocking, clever nor criminally underrated.” All these things might be true about his Lemony Snicket books (again which I haven’t read but definitely will someday) but I think it was a poor choice to put those specific blurbs on the back of this book which is very obviously a completely different kind of book and not funny or exhilarating. Can you tell I’m disappointed?


Last year I surprised myself in that I DNF’d a total of 4 books. I was giving myself more wiggle room to stop reading a book if I really wasn’t enjoying it. I don’t think giving up on a book is a bad thing because reading is my hobby, my escape, my DESSERT! So why am I going to eat a dessert that doesn’t taste good at the first bite and waste all those calories that could be better spend and enjoyed elsewhere. So this year I’m giving myself even more room to stop abandon a book if I’m not into it. I do however plan to try to read at least the first 50 pages so I can feel like I’ve really given it a fair shot to grab my attention.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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