I’ve never had much interest in mermaids. Or pirates, for that matter. And then a book came along that was everything I didn’t expect from a book with mermaids and pirates. There’s magic, and colonialism, and a sentient sea, and a pirate boy who falls in love with a girl way out of his league.
Now, don’t get me wrong, some of the characters do some questionable things, and the protagonist is no exception. I really had to reflect on how larger systems may have contributed to the situation some of the characters found themselves in.
I definitely found it startling when Florian, following the captain’s orders, proves himself worth of being a pirate. And then I thought about his previous situations and how being orphaned and destitute might have led him to do the incredibly amoral thing(s) he did to ensure his continued survival.
And so it raises the questions: Is it possible to redeem oneself after committing terrible atrocities against other humans? And how else could one find a way to survive that didn’t involve harming others?
I’m not sure there are clear answers to these questions. And the answers, even, don’t excuse a disregard for life. But here’s an interesting thing: we could also say that the aristocracy, though colonialization, also disregards the humanity of those outside of the upper class.
So is one wrong weighted more heavily than another? Is the upper class’s disregard for humanity in an effort to greedily amass more power worse that disregarding the humanity of others to survive?