April 6, 2018 • Cee • Reviews

Pacifica by Kristen Simmons • March 6, 2018 • Tor Teen
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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.


I received this book for free from Wunderkind PR & Tor Teen for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “When Marin was twelve years old, her father told her two things.”

What could bring a pirate’s daughter and the president’s son together? 


  • This world in Pacifica where climate change has devastated life—this is where we’re headed into.

It’s a reality that we’re currently facing every day with the drastic changes in weather, the sun being even more damaging, the rising sea levels, and trash washing up and covering every bit of land. This is what we see in Pacifica, but it’s even worst. Continents have been reshaped. Sea levels have risen, pushing the rich—kanshu—to move up to higher ground where the poor—shorelings—have to stick down below and try to make an okay living in terrible living conditions. This exploration of a world where it has been heavily devastated by climate change is absolutely riveting and depressing as hell.

  • Pacifica explores Marin, a pirate and someone who lives amongst the shorelings, and Ross, the president’s son who has lived a privileged life, and their very opposite lives.

Not a pair you’d think would hang out and be in the same vicinity unless they were thrown together because of circumstances. I enjoyed this contrast between their lives. On one hand, you get Main, who has lived her entire life as a pirate and had to work really hard to survive (and also help those suffering). There’s a desperation in her that is palpable. On the other hand, you get Ross, an extremely privileged teenager who has blind faith in his dad to always do the right thing. He’s very ignorant; that’s what happens being in a bubble and not realize that there are people like the one’s who live below him who are suffering. Of course, that all changes when Marin and Ross meet, and Ross’s eyes are opened to the tragedies of Noram City—the Alliance capital.

  • I didn’t particularly care for the slight romance between Marin and Ross.

The romance was slow and not heavy-handed, which I’m very thankful for, but I just couldn’t get behind it. I didn’t feel that spark aside from how I liked that they saved each other’s asses.

  • You never leave a person behind.

Ross and his friend Adam, the Vice President’s son and a former Shoreling, decide to see what’s the fuss is about in Lower Noram. During a riot, the two get separated, and Ross can’t leave without finding Adam. That’s where Marin comes in—to help Ross navigate Lower Noram and beyond, and save his friend. That loyalty, yes. I loved seeing how much Ross cared for Adam even though they weren’t exactly best friends for life (but let’s be real, they are).

  • Pacifica is inspired by Kristen Simmon’s great-grandmother’s experiences during World War II.

You see this heavily in the Relocation Act, where it’ll locate 500 Shorelings to a remote island for a “better life,” which is reminiscent of how the US government justified the interment of the Japanese. You see this in Marin and how she longs to go home to a place that doesn’t want her. You see these types of parallels, and it’s utterly heartbreaking.

Should you read Pacifica? Sure. Pacifica is not a pirate story—at least not the one we know and love to read about. Pacifica is about a world where climate change has destroyed Earth, and what people are doing to survive in this devastation. It’s a reality that we are gonna face if we don’t take action against climate change.


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