4 stars plus 1.
This was so much fun! A great story, fantastic world building, and actual real character growth. I was very surprised by the ending as well. Usually when the hot boy gets abducted by the manly pirate, there is some smoking sex (which this also has in spades), a battle at sea, and a HEA for the pirate and his boy. Here, it's different. It leaves the way open for a sequel, which I will totally read, but it's not exactly a cliffhanger.
Things are resolved, as well as they can be for now, but at the end I'm with Exit, wondering if he'll make his way back to the island full of pirates.
What I liked most about this is that Exit isn't running from a bad situation and falls in with a bunch of pirates who turn out to be the solution to all his problems. Exit's got friends at home who love him (and I really wanted to see things progress with Vin). Whatever the outcome, either his old friends or his new ones were going to get hurt. It made the ending very bittersweet.
It's online fic, so in parts it could really use an editor to tighten things up, but the sheer energy of the story made up for any issues with pacing or typos I had. If this was a professionally edited work and traditionally published I might have dropped it a star for that, but I didn't. While a traditional publisher might have fixed a few of the issues, the creativity and exuberance of this story more than make up for it.
This story has such a great cast of supporting characters. I loved Vio, particularly, but the extra star is for the Admiral, who was crazy awesome and hilarious and makes me want to be a pirate wench. I don't care if he's in his seventies. The man can shiver my timbers any time.