Monday, August 26, 2013
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I have some mixed feelings about this novel. I spent the first half of it struggling to keep my eyes open and the second half of it fairly impressed with how everything was coming together. When it comes down to it, I think that I enjoy the mechanics of this book, and maybe even the story itself, but its not something I would normally read.
Jellicoe Road is a hard book to summarize without giving away what truly makes it interesting. What I can tell you is that it is about a girl who was orphaned very young, trying to find her mother. The beginning was a bit confusing to me because I was a uncertain where the main character was staying and if the “territory wars” they continued to talk about was something to pass the time at the camp like environment she seemed to be inhabiting, or if they were actual territory wars. Although, that could all be on me because like I said, I didn't actually get into this novel until I was half way through. Half the novel felt more like a chore or one of those books that teachers make you read in high school because it's supposed to be amazing but you struggle to see why from the moment you open it.
The most enjoyable part of Marchetta's storytelling is held within the story itself. Yes, there is a story within the story in this novel and every time we moved into the more linear storyline, I found myself wanting to go back to the stories about boys in trees and teens who loved each other in loyal and honest ways. In fact, I think that the story of those souls, overshadowed the rest of the tale. When bit parts are more interesting than your main character, you have a problem as an author. I fell in love with the characters that the girl was learning about and I too wanted to know more about them. The main character of Taylor though was one that I was bored with from page one. Again, this is more of a personal preference than a critique on the book but the substance that Taylor had was nothing compared to some of the other characters in this book. Not to mention that Taylor fell flat on the page and was more akin to that carbon copy type of character that we see through most teen novels.
As a whole, Jellicoe Road is worth a read. I plan on keeping my copy and giving it another go sometime in the future because I do believe that this book is a decent distraction from our reality. While it is not the best that I've read, the author intertwines the past and the present in very neat twists that make me appreciate what she was trying to do with this novel. Marchetta had a very definite goal in her storytelling and she was able to convey it in a clear manor. That's not something that I see often with teen novels. Lately, a lot of teen novels have been taking notes from Hollywood and are trying to distract you from the gaping holes within the plot with pretty faces and witty dialogue.
Overall, Jellicoe Road is a solid three star book. If you are looking for a mystery novel then this is the one that I would point to. It is reminiscent of a good summer read and this is definitely a novel to sit on the beach or around a campfire at night and indulge in.
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