Sunday, 31 July 2011

review: Jellicoe Road

by Melina Marchetta
HarperTeen, 2008
contemporary young adult

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Markham has just been abandoned by the closest adult in her life for the second time. Right on the heels of Hannah's departure is Jonah Grigg's arrival, a boy with whom Taylor has history. While decades-old tussles over territory bring them colliding again and again, the pieces of a story concerning five kids on Jellicoe Road are weaving through Taylor's own history to connect herself and those around her in a family tree so tangled it may take a strength greater than she has ever known to move forward.
The cover:

Meh. The font is a little too messy, and the poppy's significance is only evident after the book. Otherwise, I wouldn't see a potential book buyer picking this up off the shelf.

The book:

So many people told me they loved this, that they sobbed their eyes over it. I wasn't looking for an emotional rollercoaster, so I avoided it at first, but as blogger after book blogger succumbed to it, I decided, reluctantly, to start it. And -- I didn't cry. I wasn't on the edge of my seat. I was, to say the least, totally lost at least three times in the way that I know I should be able to figure this out, but I didn't have the will to go back a few pages and trace my footsteps.

And you know what? That doesn't make Jellicoe Road bad. I liked it a lot. TTTT (to tell the truth), after I finished it, I was glad it wasn't the emotional rollercoaster people made it out to be. It made it easier to appreciate each aspect of the novel.

First, characters: the relationship between Jonah and Taylor is so sweet yet intense that it was enough for me, even though neither of the individuals endeared themselves to me. They just never got off the page and into my head unless they were figuring themselves out through each other. Same with Taylor's various friendships. I'd say that the supporting characters (Chaz, Raffy and Jessa) appealed to me more than the primary characters.

I loved the feeling of two plots unfolding simultaneously, but once they started intersecting, things moved onto shaky ground. It ended up being the kind of intermingling that you'd need to read again to fully appreciate. That being said, the present-day mystery -- especially since I love family mysteries -- is completely intriguing and attention-grabbing.

The inclusion of certain characters, like Jessa and Sam (at least I think his name's Sam; I can't quite remember), stretched the parenthood issue too far for me, while Chaz's parents were the only contrasting "good" example. It's a little hard to believe that so many adults could've been so neglecting. Also, there are F-bombs and sex. *cue immature five-year-old "ewww"ing*

In the end, reader reactions to Jellicoe Road will differ as always, but I think we can all agree it's an eloquent and ambitious novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5