Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bookanista Feature: Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

Finally got my act together for another Bookanista feature: JELLICOE ROAD, by Melina Marchetta:

And, I know this isn't a new book--and that the shiny gold Printz sticker on the cover is obviously a WAY better recommendation for this amazing book than anything I can say.

But I still wanted to feature it today for two reasons. One: Um, it's AMAZING (again, see the shiny Printz sticker?). And I'll get to reason number two in a second, because it's kind of rambly. First, here's the goodreads summary:
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions. 
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.
Okay, so again, this book is amazing. Beautiful and powerful and real and I cried so hard at the end and just... yeah. It really did live up to every single awesome thing I'd heard about it from friends and I'm so glad I finally found time to read it.

BUT, there's another thing I wanted to talk about when it comes to this book. That "reason number two" I promised to ramble about above. (Aren't you glad you stuck around?) 

JELLICOE ROAD taught me something. Well, it taught me many things, a major one being that I am incredibly jealous of the beautiful way Melina Marchetta strings together words. But there was one thing in particular I learned from reading this book that isn't so much about the story or the writing as it is about READING.

This is a book that my friends had been telling me to read for years. But I'd held off on reading it because they all also kept telling me the same thing: you'll have to force yourself to keep going through the first 100 pages. 

Um... one HUNDRED pages??? 

That's... kind of a lot of pages to have to force yourself to get through. 

I thought I was pretty fair when it came to judging a book, but I rarely gave something more than 50 pages to grab me. My TBR pile is too big. If I'm not invested by page 50-ish, I'm setting it aside and moving on. 

And I can tell you this: my friends were absolutely right about the first 100-ish pages of JELLICOE ROAD. They're VERY confusing and I spent most of them thinking ... wait, did I miss something? 
But I pushed through and all of a sudden the pieces started to fall into place and I realized the deeper connections between the characters and the turf war and the story within a story and ... it's just BRILLIANT--and don't even get me started on the wonder that is Jonah Griggs.

Which is why I wanted to gush about this book because I am SO glad my friends told me to keep going. If they hadn't, I never would've made it to the end--and boy would I have missed out. And it made me realize: I think I'm reading wrong.

I love reading. I do. But... it's also sorta part of my job as an author, to keep up with what's out there--and there are a LOT of books out there. Pair that with a limited amount of time for reading and... yeah. I've picked up the habit of moving on if something isn't holding my interest. And now I'm wondering what I'm missing out on. 

So I have a new goal now. To treat books like a "whole." Even if part of a book isn't gelling for me, it really isn't fair--to the book, or to myself--to stop short.  I doubt I'll end up loving every book as much as I loved JELLICOE ROAD--some books are just special. But I bet I'm going to end up liking a lot more of them than I thought I would. I guess we'll see!

For more awesome book recommendations, here's what my fellow Bookanistas are talking about:

Shari Arnold marvels at THE MOON AND MORE by Saran Dessen
Tracy Banghart is thrilled by 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Christine Fonseca shivers over SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Carrie Harris and Elana Johnson reveal the cover of SALLY SLICK & THE STEEL SYNDICATE by Carrie Harris
Corrine Jackson is nuts for AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber
Jessica Love joins the BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart book blitz – with giveaway
Tracey Neithercott adores THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab
Kimberly Sabatini is touched by OUT OF REACH by Carrie Arcos
Katy Upperman gushes over THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca


  1. I've heard so many great things about JELLICOE ROAD. I'm definitely going to have to check it out! Thanks for the review...I love your comments about reading and treating a book as a "whole". This definitely can be hard sometimes - but I've had it pay off in the past as well. (And also, not pay off but's always a gamble! ;-))

    1. It definitely is, and not every book is going to turn out to be something we love. But it was just interesting to see how giving a book more of a fair chance made such a difference. I'm going to try to stick to that!

  2. I always find hard to deal with people saying "you'll have to force yourself to keep going through the first 100 pages" because they are part of the book, a really important, captivating part of the book when you get to see how Taylor is before everything in her life changed. I don't see the "forced" part but still...

    I hate to DNF book but I just don't force myself to finish, EVER. It's for a reason the book and I are not clicking and I don't see the point. However, I try to not advertise the fact that I didn't finish this or that, and I NEVER critize them because I'm not capable of judging something I didn't finish.

    1. That's awesome that you don't criticize the books you don't finish. I think that's a fair compromise and I wish more people did it, because it's true, how can we judge something we've not completed?

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I don't know if I would have the patience. As you say, the TBR list is so huge I would have to have an awfully compelling reason to dig through that many pages. I guess I will put it on my list, but honestly, it won't be at the top. Thanks for telling me about it though.

    1. It really is worth it! It's a beautiful, amazing book, and the beginning does fall into place. I'm so glad I gave it a chance.

  4. Sigh, love. <3 I do understand what you mean and what everyone mean about being confused for the first 100 pages. I was too. But then I re-read it a while later. And I loved every page even more. <3 Jellicoe Road is one of the best books :D So, so good. So glad you loved it too, and that you finally read it, lol :D Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

    1. Oh, that's true. I bet rereading it now that I know what's going on would make it even better. I'll have to see if I can make time for that!

  5. Keep in mind that the target audience is NOT going to have that kind of patience. If a book lags in the first 15 pages, most middle school students will give up. Jellicoe Road was a Battle of the Books book a couple of years ago, and it didn't make students very happy. I think the Printz designation is right-- this is more YA. Those readers have a little more patience!

    1. Oh, I never meant for middle schoolers to read this. It's definitely a YA, and an upper YA at that, given some of the darker story matter. But it's a beautiful, beautiful book.

  6. The Shipping News was a 100-pages-in-aha book for me and I agree, sometimes it's worth it to push yourself. Jellicoe Road is on my tbr already but I'm thinking I should nudge it to the top... Thanks for the review.


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