Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen, 2018 (March 6)
Genre: YA Dystopian
**I received a copy of this book from the author and my review is in no way affected or influenced by receipt of this book**
First of all, I am a big fan of Kristen Simmons. I loved The Glass Arrow and it’s one of my favorite books, as underhyped as it is. She writes with a grace and a connection to the reader and I respect that. Her covers are always so amazing…Pacifica is no different and I wanted to read it the moment I saw it available.
Awesome premise so I thought awesome book, right?
Here’s the synopsis, which I find goes into more detail than the blurb on the book jacket:
Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she’s meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council’s favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.
Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president’s son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam’s safe return.
When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.
So Pirates and special islands and a dystopian world…those seem to me like a recipe for awesomeness!!
Though there’s a summary above, I always like to put the book into my own words.
Ross is the president’s son. His father is hard on him, and his best friend is a Shoreling, a slang term for a person who comes from the poor areas that lay below the line that separates the pollution and trash from the breathable air. His best friend also happens to be the Vice President’s son, who all know was elected for his opposing views and his connection to the people.
When Ross and Adam decide to slip out and see the riots against the new relocation plan, they don’t know what they really are in for: people do not like the idea of a lottery that will take 500 people and put them onto a boat for a new island paradise named Pacifica. Many are skeptical and don’t want to leave their homes…others are looking for a new start away from the slums and trash and meager living that the climate devastation had wrought after the ice caps melted.
Marin, on the other hand, is a pirate through blood. A cosario. With a tattoo of the number “86” on her neck, she makes drugs to help the starving Shoreling orphans and hopes to one day return to her island home – where if she brings the right tithe, she will take her father’s place and have a ship and crew of her own.
When Ross and Marin collide during the riots and lose Adam, the two team up to save him: Ross out of friendship and Marin out of a desperate need for cash. But the trip to save Adam is perilous…and the President’s son isn’t exactly the best traveling partner. Soon Marin and Ross encounter trouble that will make them see that Shorelings and kanshu (the wealthy) actually are being lied to – that the Pacifica dream is more insidious than either could imagine.
Is it Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes. Simmons’ book tells the story of a world where ice caps have melted and the temperature has risen steadily; the world has restarted the clock as time “pre-Melt” and “post-Melt,” and acid rain leaves burns on the faces of those that can’t drink anything but purified rainwater. Discussion about this world and the class/caste system would be rich with questions.
There is a quote in the book that truly reflects some bias toward wealthy people and it really could be a good bell-ringer where students could write what they interpret the quote to mean:
“You don’t know me,” he said.
“You’re the son of one of the richest men in the world,” she said. “That’s all I need to know.”
“It’s not that simple,” he argued. “It’s not like I’m eating money for breakfast and sleeping on the crushed dreams of poor people.” (pg 202)
The world, the people, and the piracy would have excellent potential in a classroom environment, so I have to recommend this as an excellent read for educational purposes.
I give Pacifica ★★★★★ for classroom use.
It’s probably because it is so new, but there is no Lexile score for Pacifica yet. Kristen’s book Article 5 has a Lexile score of 660HL, so I would assume that Pacifica is around the same level. It is recommended for ages 14 to 17, and perhaps the drug use in the book might be a bit of a problem, but nothing is explicit and the drug use is actually quite understated and explained to a point that would discourage use instead of encouraging or inspiring it.
I would feel comfortable even going as low as 13, as Pacifica does not have graphic language or intimate scenes, and the benefit of the world described makes me think it would be an excellent book for an 8th grade course or higher that included climate studies.
So I enjoyed Pacifica but I wasn’t “in love” with it. I honestly wanted to know more about the island and instead the story focused more on the pirate-upper class relationship between Marin and Ross. Though that wasn’t a bad thing, I kept hoping to learn more since the book is literally titled Pacifica. I’m thinking the name is slightly misleading. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t kept waiting to learn more about the island and don’t get more until the very end.
I would give Pacifica ★★★☆☆ overall – it’s a pleasant read and has all sorts of academic and Dystopian value, but the story was just much different than what I was expecting. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy reading it! I just felt it was a solid three star read and one that would be enjoyable if you are a fan of Kristen’s other books. (Especially her other Dystopian reads).
But there’s some good news! There is a GIVEAWAY AND I WILL INCLUDE THE LINK SO THAT YOU CAN PARTICIPATE!!
The giveaway is international! (Must be 13+ to enter)
Here are the details:
2 Winners will receive two sets of Kristen’s books (Article 5, The Glass Arrow and Metaltown) in a TOR Teen Tote.
The giveaway ends March 30, so you better hurry and enter!!
Rafflecopter link: Kristen Simmons Book Giveaway
Here is some info about the wonderful Kristen Simmons, who has written some amazing books and is a super lady!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KRISTEN SIMMONS is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and METALTOWN. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her delightfully rambunctious son.
Praise for PACIFICA
“A harrowing world where overpopulation is rampant and pollution stifling. The characters creep into your heart with raw, familiar issues of love, friendship, and family ties, careening you on a plot fraught with just as many twists as there are pieces of trash in the ocean. Pacifica will have you breathlessly fearing our own future.” ―New York Times bestselling author Sara Raasch
I’ll be using this in a lesson plan ASAP. I hope all you educators and librarians out there recommend it to your readers – especially your fans of Dystopian lore.
This book could eerily spell out our future, so let’s get Pacifica into the hands of our young readers!!