[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/2388637]
"Each of the charms has an important meaning. They symbolize the three core talents required to be a successful pirate. The sword represents the ability to fight and is modeled on my very own Toledo Blade. The compass represents skills in navigation. The anchor recognizes that we must ground ourselves in pirate history. And the pearl...well the pearl is perhaps the most important -- it marks the capacity to take the most dark and unprepossessing of situations and break through it to find the treasure within."
So begins Connor and Grace's training at the Pirate Academy. While there, each will learn how to tie knots, sword fighting and skills that make a good captain. One of them will also learn to let go and the other to hang on.
Even though it's been a while since I read the first book in the Vampirates series, it took me no time at all to re-orient myself in Connor and Grace's (and Lorcan's and Sidorio's and Cheng Li's) story and be sucked back into their future world of piracy. The Pirate Academy and Pirate Federation both play a big part in this book, as does Captain Wrathe's opposition to both. Good guys become bad guys right and left in this second installment, and a lot of that has to do with Connor and Grace's changing feelings toward institutionalized piracy.
Grace hopes to convince Connor to go along with Academy life as a possibly stepping stone away from piracy altogether. If she can't have what she wants (to go back to the Vampirates, of course) why should he? As the death of a crew member aboard The Diablo shows, Connor is in just as much danger every time he helps out in an attack as Grace was hanging out with vampires. He takes to Academy life, but not in the way she hopes; he sees how it will help him to excel as a pirate captain. In turn, Grace begins to visit the Vampirate ship, if only in spirit.
Their stories are just as separate now that they are together as they were in the first book when they were apart. I kind of like that about this book. Grace and Connor are very distinctive people with very different dreams, even if they are referred to as "the twins" by just about everyone(longer rant about that in a minute). Even though Connor and Grace are in some really weird circumstances that, I feel, hardly anyone can relate to on a literal level (though, if you know of a real pirate academy, please let me know!), what they go through in this book is something that most kids go through. Connor and Grace both have to grow up a bit in this book and, in the process, grow away from each other. My sister is ten years younger than I am, so I didn't ever go through this process with a sibling, but I did go through The Big Middle School Friend Shift. It sucked. All of a sudden you're not only surrounded by all the people you went to elementary school with, but with a bunch of other kids too. And some of them are pretty cool and have the same schedule as you and so on and so forth. I know I didn't mean to ditch old friends in middle school, and I hope that they didn't intentionally ditch me, but as the world got bigger, friends changed. Connor and Grace both realize that in this book and have to come to terms with the fact that they won't always be together. It's kind of heartbreaking, even though they both end up (spoiler) happy in the end.
Okay, enough touchy-feely business. I couldn't stand how often Connor and Grace were referred to as "the twins" in this book. It drove me crazy! Especially since, though they were both at the Academy, they were hardly ever together. This whole book (I think) is about the two of them realizing that they are two completely different people, and yet they are referred to as a set throughout! Granted, the twins saves the printer 6 six characters and the speaker 2 syllables, but still. If this continues in the next book I might have to pull my hair out.
Book 1: Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean
Book Source: I bought this baby.