Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Release Date: August 28th, 2006
Page Count: 422
Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham 17, finally confronts her past. Hannah, the closest adult she has to family, disappears. Jonah Griggs, moody stares and all, is back in town. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.
[Summary Source: Goodreads]
Taylor's got no one. Her's mom's gone, and the one adult in school she's come to trust is recently missing. She doesn't know anything about her family - including what happened to them. All she knows is she's in this school, alone, suddenly in this position of power that no one really wanted to give her because she ran off with a cadet (aka the enemy) a few years back. Now, in this position of power, Taylor must go to war. But actually. With the Townies and Cadets. They play war and negotiate territory. But all the while, as this is going on, Taylor gets closer to the enemy, and to the truth of what the hell happened to her family.
Let's break this down:
I really just want this review to be: THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZINGLY AMAZING STOP READING MY BLOG AND PICK IT UP RIGHT NOW.
Alas, you guys probably need more than that, so here we go.
Most people I talk to say the beginning of this book is a little confusing. I think that's because Melina Marchetta pretty much plops the reader down in the middle of everything and expects us to understand why it seems like the characters are going to war and what all these flashback scenes are about. But I don't think I would have stopped reading, even without all of the "you might be confused at the beginning" warnings, mostly because it was an intriguing confusing. What are all of these things? What's happening? They all sound mysterious and exciting. Kids playing war? Tell me more!
But anyway, once you get through the beginning of this book, the whole things fairly un-put-down-able. This is one of those books that doesn't try hard to explain itself, it just does - y'know, the whole show don't tell writing device. In fact, a lot of the times the storyline will reveal something and you'll want to DENY the truth, not accept and move forward because the truth is just so O.O (yeah, I used an emoticon in a review because if I didn't it'd just be a whole lot of keyboard slamming).
And if a stunning, mysterious, truth-telling story isn't enough to pull you in, the characters here should do the trick. I was totally struck by the past group - Narnie, Jude, Fitz, Tate and Webb - and they're not even the main focus of the story. Or rather, they kind of ARE, because they pretty much shape everything in the book, but the book's not set in their time - in their reality. But like I said, I was so struck by this group of friends that I WISH the book was about them. Or I wish they had their own book. I feel like I should be able to better describe why I love this group of friends so much. The love between them? How sad and compelling their story is? To really explain it I think I'd need to add spoilers, but even then I'm not so sure. I just wish... I wish so many things for them.
I also wish so many things for Taylor, Jonah, Raffy, Santangelo, Ben and all of the rest. The friendships here are so different from the Narnie-Jude-Fitz-Tate-Webb friendship. They're like RELUCTANT friends, but that's just because they're drawn together and they fight it but there's no point because they are the perfect team. I don't mean like they come together and magically become perfect people and have the ability to call upon Captain Planet. They're totally dysfunctional even when together, but they totally just WORK. And I love them all.
Also, if you're looking for a believable romance that makes you all tingly inside, this book has multiple. Taylor and Jonah are so IMMENSELY complex and yet they fall together in a "this was inevitable, written in the stars" kind of way. But it's not cheesy. It's absolutely beautiful. The other love stories in this book (which I won't get into because I don't want to spoil anything) are similarly beautiful. They're complex and tragic and REAL. There's no easy anything for any of these characters but they prove that you can make something for yourself out of tragedy - you don't have to wallow and suffer.
It's also worth noting that Melina Marchetta has this way of putting words together that totally grabs hold of the reader and makes them pay attention. I think that was important for me at the beginning when I wasn't TOTALLY sure what was happening. But it's okay, because the writing caught me and the characters and the mystery kept me.
Then, as much as the prose, characters and mystery made me fall for this book, I think it's all of the emotion that solidified my need to re-read this one, and soon. This is just one of those books that I finished and couldn't stop thinking about. I flipped back and forth between pages, putting things together, dealing with plot twists, re-reading passages and just loving every word I'd just devoured. Because you KNOW I read this one in a day.
The long and short of it?
Plot: Amazing intricate - totally wonderful. This is one of those books where EVERYTHING mentioned had a reason - no situation, fact or moment was wasted.
World Building: I know nothing about Australia but that DID NOT MATTER.
Character Development: The discovery and development in this book is so absolutely real. I actually think these people live somewhere in this world. And I'd like to meet them.
Prose: I would quote the whole book for you right here and now if I could. There's not just one line that encompasses how wonderfully written this book is.
Would I Recommend This Book?: More than one person recommended this book to me. Now I'm the person recommending it to everyone I know. I especially like to recommend it to people who are skeptical of YA, since it totally joins the ranks of books that prove YA can be just as smart as Adult.
Have people been pushing this book on you? If so, you better start listening to them (and me) because it's an absolutely brilliant read worthy of any and all devouring. And if you've ALREADY read this book, be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!