Sunday 31 July 2011

Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

The Story:
Taylor Markham is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
         And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road. - From the book jacket.

My Thoughts:
I stayed up past 3am last Saturday night to finish reading this book because I just couldn't go to bed without knowing what happened next. On Sunday morning I was left with two lingering emotions. Envy and anger. Envy that one person can have so much talent, and anger that this book isn't immensely more popular.
          On the Jellicoe Road took me on Taylor's journey of self discovery and I relished every second of it. The writing, as always for Marchetta, is phenomenal. The pacing is quick and  though you're dropped right in the middle of the action, it doesn't take long for the story to ensnare you. Jellicoe is told through two different perspectives. Taylor's point of view, and a narrative of the five kids who used to live in Jellicoe written by Hannah. The narrative isn't shown in sequential order and it's interesting to try and piece the whole thing together just as Taylor tries to do.
          Based on the description on the book jacket, I was ready for a novel full of physical confrontations mixed in with a bit of mystery. Instead I got a coming of age story that tested the boundaries of friendship and made me yearn for my high school camping days. Jellicoe is laced with themes of loss, drug addiction, suicide and abandonment and yet somehow left me feeling uplifted and hopeful.   
          In the last book I read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge I didn't particularly like any of the characters. I had the opposite reaction with Jellicoe. I can honestly say that I loved every person in this book. Including Taylor's mother and the pretentious Richard who seeks to usurp Taylor's position as leader of the Jellicoe boarders.
         You know those characters you instantly connect with and want to protect from something you can't really understand? Taylor was that for me. She was so strong and self assured, yet vulnerable and detached from those around her. Being abandoned by her mother has obviously scarred Taylor emotionally and she kept everyone at a distance but that doesn't stop her from caring about the kids she was in charge of. By the end of Jellicoe, you find out just how well Taylor has coped with her circumstances and understand why she is too afraid to be close to anyone.
         Jonah Griggs and Chaz Santangelo are the tough guy leaders of the two other groups involved in the territory wars. Jonah is a cadet, the group of military kids who make camp in Jellicoe for six week every summer. Jonah comes from a broken family and a troubled past. Chaz is the leader of the townies, the kids who live in town and go to Jellicoe High School. In Taylor's words, he is too good looking for his own good. Though they appeared to be bitter enemies ready to come to blows at the blink of an eye, both boys mature beyond words over the summer of the territory wars and I honestly couldn't figure out who I was more in love with.Their friendship is fleeting at first, thrown together by their mutual protectiveness of Taylor and her friend Raffy, but it soon becomes a natural bond that I could see lasting forever.
       There are no vampires or werewolves or love triangles in Jellicoe. Just fantastic writing and beautiful, beautiful characters. I cannot speak highly enough of it and recommend that everyone gives this book a go.

*I read this book as part of my 2011 Aussie Author Challenge


  1. Yay, so glad you liked this one - though I haven't read a bad review of it! I'm really keen to read it, it's one of those books that every time I read a review I'm like, "why I haven't I read this yet?!" I really must get around to it :)

  2. I have this sitting on my shelf because I've had some blogger friends tell me it's really good, but they also say it's a little hard to get through so I'm kind of iffy. but nice review.

    Have a good weekend or what's left of it.!

  3. Great review, it sounds awesome! I've been looking for some coming-of-age stories to read, to shake things up heh, I'll have to keep this one in mind.

  4. Great review! I love a story that keeps me up all night, anxious to find out what happens next!

  5. Belle: Seriously, you just have to pick the book up and make yourself read it. I guarantee you won't be able to put it back down.

    AngelicNytmare: I am a really pathetic reader and if a book is too hard, I usually just give up. I think it's the TV watcher in me that wants things to just be obvious. I think the jumping around of the perspectives is what puts people off in Jellicoe but it's not hard to get through I promise.

    Jinny & Alexia: This book really had me on the edge of my seat, if not for the story than for the boys :)

  6. You know, I have read so many great things about this book. Unfortunately, our library doesn't have it in, otherwise I would have checked it out by now. It really does sound good. :) Thanks for sharing your review!

  7. Lol. That's kind of how I am. Sometimes I just want things to get to the point, but then again I guess you kind of need some backstory. :) I will have to see about maybe reading it sooner.


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