This was going to be a quick read, since the text in my book is only in the middle of the page... Random question, whenever you pick up a book you've heard a lot about, do you kind of hope to hate it? And likewise when you've heard nothing about a book or bad things about it, you want to be the one person who loves it? No, is that just me? Well in this case (huh, I guess not so random anymore) I wanted to dislike it since I only have heard good things about it. The synopsis of Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is provided by Goodreads:
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
I believe it was from EpicTeens that I first heard it from, if not it was the one who was broadcasting it the most. They were reading this a couple months back and I thought, since it gets such great praises, why not take a shot?
(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
I honestly started to read this to get rid of one of the few unread contemporary teens out of my to be read list. I was a little done with teen books, I don't know why since the last one I read was Fangirl and while I didn't completely and utterly love it, I did really like it at moments.
Now this goes the same for this one. Let's start with the pros.
I am in love with Marcheta's writing style. (Just read the prologue, attention-grabber!) I can't explain, just read a chapter or two (actually a couple-- but I'll explain why down in the cons section) and I think you'll understand. This is told from first person's POV and in a way as we are being told the story from inside the protagonist's head, I feel like she takes the present and past and scenes and thoughts and intertwines them in a mystifying way that sometimes you don't really notice but you're not actually at place A but remembering of some dream back at place D. That was a theoretical example, I don't want to give away any spoilers. But while you're coming back and forth-- while it did take some getting used to, the protagonist's voice was so light and innocent and fragile that I absolutely loved being in her mind. I'm sure if this story was written by another author, I would be annoyed as heck to be pulled back and forth so much. Also I felt what made this book very original was the fact that most of the quotes are orginal, the author made so many familiar emotions seem new and fresh and the unfamiliar not as strange as you would expect.
Next is the plot. Whoo-wee, I did not think it would unravel to a conclusion like that. Imagine it like this: you bought this rug with a collage on it from a seller and haven't seen it yet, but you're told that it's a beautiful, beautiful rug. You race home to see it, laying it down on the floor, and you begin to unroll it. At first you see some color, a dark green, an ocean blue, or maybe some cool reds against vibrant orange and yellows, anyways you see these colors and you're excited because you're already in love with it. But then you unravel it more and a color you thought wasn't going to be there is walling up beside the colors you loved before and you're disappointed. (You were so sure...) But nevertheless, you unroll the rug more and more and the more you see, the more you begin to realize the collage beginning to make sense and its image beginning to resonate and win you over, and for a moment near the end, you think you don't even to finish unrolling it because it's such a beautiful rug. But once you finish unrolling it, you see every color and look closer to see every detail and you're so amazed and you can't believe what a steal you got with rug seller.
--Maybe you haven't had this experience before, but can you imagine it? Seeing something and not understanding it at first, but the more you learn the more you begin to see the beautiful intricacies that make something what it is. Sorry, I'm getting off topic, but I think I don't need to say more about my feelings for the plot.
How about pacing? Pacing as you probably already know if you've read several of my reviews before, counts as a big chunk of my rating score. Beginnings are the worst for me, I almost always dislike beginnings. Out of every book I've read, I've only liked 2 beginnings that I can think of (one is True Grit by Charles Portis and the other is The Rook by Daniel O'Malley). Beginnings for me range from page 1 to about 50, and that may even be stretching it. However, I'd have to say that this books beginning took me about 200 pages for me to get over it. Yeah... 200 our of 420 pages. Now it was an extremely easy read and the pages didn't have a lot of words on them, but this story was so gosh darn confusing for the first 200 pages, I was thinking of dropping it and starting another book-- but I don't have it in me to do that, especially if I love the writing style. So while the beginning took me a while to get over, once I had more or less a clue of what was going on (thinking back on it I still don't really know, again I'll elaborate in the con section below), the book just kept getting more and more interesting. So as the pacing was a little rocky in the beginning/first half of the book, the plot and characters and feelings by the end made up for all that.
Lastly, the characters. They aren't the most impressive bunch of kids you'll ever see, but that's what makes them so great. They're not idealized, they're a bunch of kids you'd meet walking down the street or have met in your past. They're dysfunctional yet have desires and feelings like any human being. They all have flaws that show and aren't dominated by their appealing traits, if anything, they're shown later. They make the reader earn when to see the "good side" of these characters. Not saying that this was good vs. evil which in a complicated way it was-- but I don't want to get into it because I honestly don't really know how to explain it myself. Taylor Markham, Jonah Griggs, Chaz Santangelo, Raffaela, Ben, Hannah, the Brigadier, other characters I can't remember, at some point you really like them and others you don't. I love to meet new characters like this, it's liking meeting real people.
Alright, and for the moment I've been dreading, the cons.
This book had one of the rockiest beginnings in literature history ever! Alright, I'm being a little melodramatic. But the world placement and setting placement was evidently non-existent for too long. I felt like I was just reading about some girl's random fits of dreams and reality. I didn't know much but that this girl wanted to leave (wherever she was), but I didn't know why or if because of who. There are a plethora of names thrown at you in the beginning (with a lack of Johnny said or Mary said which ticked me off since I had to backtrack and read who was saying what) and it gets more tolerable as you continue, but it doesn't get easier. Finally I learned that this was taking place in Australia, at some point someone even says 'Mate.'
And the I didn't really understand the whole concept of Townies vs. Cadets. Sorry if that's why you're here. I can't help you. I know about half way or around then, some of the rules are explained, but I still don't understand why. These are high schoolers but it's like they're at war with one another. And then at the end (6 weeks later), they'll have this dance or something and then the Cadets will go away. Reading this, especially in the beginning, I kept saying to the book, "what's the point??" And even at the end I said the same thing, but I had grown to love my characters so much that it was placed on the side where are the things I don't care for anymore lie.
Well that concludes my cons. I'm a little surprised but then again, I did really like this book. And that I know what's going on, I can reread stuff I missed before and it enjoy it sooner. Because I really really did love this author's writing. I think this will be on my To Be Reread soon pile. :)
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
"It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La."
Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road
Next To Read:
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
Someone please explain to me why the Cadets and Townies have war? I know that it was started by Taylor's mom and dad, Webb and Tate, Jude, Fitz and Narnie, but why war? And how does the Cadets come into play, or is that supposed to be the foreign people like Jude (the Brigadier) was? And then the different houses represent the other four that were actually from there? And where do the seniors go, the ones that left in the beginning. They made being the leader so intriguing and then it didn't sound something very "Top Secret" worthy.
Oh and can someone tell me how Webb was killed by Fitz? Was he the boy in the tree, or the guy in the car? Was that what the picture showed him in (the one Chaz showed Taylor)?
Taylor and Griggs are on my top fictional characters couple list. And are my favorite teen literary couple. Any agree, disagree? :)
I loved how the five people in italics mentioned early become the people that all surround Taylor's childhood. Narnie=Hannah, Jude=Brigadier, Fitz=Hermit, Webb=Taylor's father who died at 17, Tate-Taylor's mother who's MIA. I definitely need to reread so I can better understand now all those sections with italics because I for the most part skimmed over them (much like I did in Fangirl, since I thought it was unimportant to the plot.) Oh...
I enjoyed the concept of the hidden tunnel and I felt that it made a great final scene, well one of the more dramatic final scenes. My only thing was I don't know why Griggs offered to go in first-- he said he needed to do it for Taylor but I was nodding my head along like "okayyyy..." I really just need to reread this book to get a better grasp at everything because I'm pretty sure I have more questions than answers. ^^
Santagelo and Raffaela have such beautiful chemistry. My favorite part was when Marchetta had Ben(?) predict how they'd marry separate people then have kids that went to the same school then they'd have an affair. It's what I was thinking would happen one day so I'm happy that someone called it out. But they were a great secondary couple to focus on, more interesting than the Brigadier and Hannah anyways.
Anyone have any recommendations for another book by this author?
Until Next Time,