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Five Types of Pirates You’re Likely To Find in YA

By Julia Bergen

Kristen Simmon’s upcoming Pacifica has us wanting to cast off and set sail for the high seas. Of course, since it’s the middle of winter and we know nothing about sailing, we’ve decided to stay inside and read about it instead. So if you’re also feeling the lure toward adventure and nautical thievery, get ready to encounter the five types of pirates you’re likely to find in YA.

Pirate type #1: Realistic pirates

For example: Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Marin calls herself and her family pirates, but they’re not the peg-leg, parrot type of pirates. Like all of Kristen Simmons’ books, Pacifica is crafted off of real-life dangers in our present world, and this one is inspired by her family’s experience in Japanese internment camps in World War II. So, the pirates in Pacifica are more like pirates that actually exist in the real world, giving the book a haunting, could-be-real-life quality.


Pirate type #2: Awesome lady pirates

For example: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Obviously YA has its fair share of lady pirates! Don’t let the title fool you, Alosa isn’t just a pirate king’s daughter – she’s a pirate captain in her own right. And even though she’s just seventeen you do not want to get on the wrong side of her cutlass. This book has everything you expect out of a pirate adventure – treasure maps, sirens, and swashbuckling action.


Pirate type #3: Space pirates

For example: Starflight by Melissa Landers

The crew of the Banshee manages to get on the wrong side of a range of enemies in this space adventure. One of the most dangerous and entertaining of these is a network of cut-throat space pirates famous for the length and intensity of their grudges. So, naturally, the Banshee crew winds up on their bad side. Bad for them, but great for us readers, because the inclusion of space pirates just make everything that much better.


Pirate type #4: Time pirates

For example: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Nix’s father can use maps to sail to any time or location. And what does he use that power for? Obviously starting a pirate crew. And obviously that pirate crew is a ragtag band of outcasts (found family fans rejoice!) Nix has grown up on this pirate ship, traveling all across the world and all through time, but all that could go away if her father’s ultimate plan succeeds. Pirates combined with time travel combined with history combined with romance is definitely something we can get on board with.


Pirate type #5: Magical pirates

For example: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

If you loved Safi and Iseult’s misadventures in Truthwitch, expect similar delights in Windwitch. But with one IMPORTANT change. So. Many. More. Pirates. Princesses turned pirate queens. An entire pirate republic. Rival pirate clans. Pirate sponsored magical arena fights. So if you read Truthwitch and thought, “You know what this needs? More pirates!” then you will be quite pleased. And if it didn’t even occur to you to combine pirates and witches, this is why Susan Dennard is awesome.


Did we miss any? What’s your favorite type of YA pirate?

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