Book review: Jellicoe Road

Book review: Jellicoe Road

I picked up Jellicoe Road on a whim as the title started with J for my A- Z reading Challenge. I had not then realized that it was written by Melina Marchetta, who has been on my radar for a while as I wanted to read ‘Looking For Alibrandi’.

By the time I realized Jellicoe Road was written by the one and only, I had already fallen deep into it and it didn’t matter. Had I known it was her maybe I would not have contemplated quitting it (I will explain). All is well, I guess. Let us get on to the book, shall we?

Jellicoe Road

Book Name: Jellicoe Road

Author: Melina Marchetta

Genre: Fiction – Young Adult, Mystery

Characters: Taylor Markham, Jonah Griggs, Chaz Santangelo, Hannah

Setting: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Before I proceed I want to warn you, I strive to write a spoiler free review. But here is what happened; I didn’t understand what was going on in the book until I was in the middle of it. I even thought of abandoning the book but the writing was beautiful and kept me going. And when it started making sense, it was worth all the chaos. 

If you want to enjoy the book that way, you should skip the (spoiler-free) blurb of Jellicoe Road here and jump into the review and then maybe the book. Otherwise, go ahead. 

Plot:

Taylor Markham, a 17 year old loner, is now the leader of the boarders of a school in Sydney. She has to lead the ‘fight for territory’ with the townies and the cadets, who camp near their town for a few weeks every year. To make things worse the new leader of the cadets Jonah Griggs and Taylor share some complicated history. 

Amidst all the kiddish territorial wars, Taylor’s caretaker Hannah goes missing and no one at the school would take Taylor’s complaint seriously nor would tell her what was going on. All that is left of Hannah is her unfinished manuscript about five kids set in 1980s, which become Taylor’s only clue to finding Hannah. 

Did Taylor win the trust of her fellow boarders? What was so important about the tree-house that both the Townies and the Cadets will do anything for it? Where did Hannah go? To find the answers to these questions and more you will have to read Jellicoe Road. 

Things that I loved:

  • As I mentioned earlier Jellicoe Road is definitely tough to get into but Melina Marchetta’s writing will suck into this strange world where kids learn to protect theirs and take over others’ land. 

  • I loved that all the characters had multiple layers and a deeper story. I loved that even before I understood the plot I got deeply invested into the lives of these kids that I couldn’t stop reading.I am totally in love with the kids from 80s in the manuscript.

  • The characters in Jellicoe Road deal with death, grief, abandonment, drugs addiction and suicide and I am sure for a Young Adult book this is too heavy. I am still confused whether to tag this one as Young Adult or contemporary or even a mystery. 

Things that didn’t work for me:

  • I am finally getting used to not searching for responsible adults in YA and you wouldn’t find them in Jellicoe Road. 

  • And I am not gonna lie, it did feel like it took ages to understand who they were and what happened to them. Though I kinda guessed it about three-fourth into the story, but I am not going to complain. 

  • While I am happy at how things turned out for the three factions, I also am kinda annoyed that the story took huge diversion from that part of the story. 

  • There were times when the teenage angst and the whiny female lead got to me, but I am glad I chose to eye-roll and ignore them. 

Bottomline:

If you are ready for a roller coaster ride that may or not end up in happy tears Jellicoe Road is the perfect YA for you.

Have you read this one or from this author earlier? What are you thoughts about the writing style? How many pages would you read before you will decide to quit a book? Let us chat.

Book review: The Devil’s Prayer

Book review: The Devil’s Prayer

I once got caught red handed by my Science teacher in my fourth grade for reading Archie’s while she was teaching. (Yea I live on the edge like that.) A friend had brought her book for me to read and I wanted to finish it before the evening. No wonder I stood without feeling guilty and in fact I was proudly standing when she called out me.

Now that I think about it, I realize she didn’t scold or punish me; she just forbade me from reading during class hours. Thanks to teachers like her, my love for reading has not burnt or faded out, like everything else in my life. 

You know what,  I still am the same, I love Archie’s and I don’t stop reading even when I am reprimanded or scorned upon. Yet, I can’t think of the last time I picked a book and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Thanks to ‘The Devil’s Prayer‘ by Luke Gracias, I stayed awake up to the wee hours to complete this one.What makes a novel un-put-down-able?

Is it the fast-paced and well-knotted plot? Characters that you can relate to or intrigue you? Or crisp and engaging narration and language? Or just the fact that it has the name of an author that you like? Well, I can not hold it anymore. This book has it all, erm, except the last one.  I hadn’t heard of Luke Gracias before I picked the book and now I can’t wait for the sequel. Says much about the book and his writing, read on to know more.

Book Name: The Devil’s Prayer 

Author: Luke Gracias

Genre: Fiction – Historical Thriller

Characters: Siobhan, Denise, Jess

Setting: Brisbane, Australia

Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author, Netgalley and Writer’s Melon for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  

The story begins with Sister Benedictine’s suicide leaving a group of monks on a trail in Spain. Siobhan watches the story on the television to realize that it was her mother who went missing six years ago.

She begins her journey to the isolated convent her mother seemed to have belonged to in a quest to search answers for her questions. She is tailed by the mysterious monks when she finds her mother’s confession and a mysterious key.

What she learns leaves her confused about her mother’s sanity and makes her start doubting her loyalty to her family. Whom would you choose to believe and trust – your mother who abandoned you six years ago or the person whom you have loved and protected until that moment?

The book takes us through two parallel stories from different realms, her mother’s story leading to the suicide and the daughter who is trying to solve the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance and the subsequent public death.

Denise’s story and her deal with the Devil had me engrossed and sleep defied me until I completed it. Of course, as always I rooted for the so called bad guy, the Devil and was waiting for him to get his share back. There are  some graphic scenes of violence, so a word of caution for the faint hearted.

I loved that Lucas’s storyline never dropped its momentum anywhere in the story. But I did find a difference in the writing between Denise’s and Siobhan’s stories, may be it was intentional – or not. The ending seemed to be a little bit hastened and cluttered though that did not affect the reading experience much. I repeat, I can’t wait for the sequel. Even though the book did not leave a cliffhanger, there are too many answered questions.

Do you remember the frenzy that the number ‘666’  created when the Omen came out, or the Mona Lisa garnered with the release of ‘ The Da Vinci Code’  and somehow everyone wanted a piece of Da Vinci’s history? That is how I felt about Genghis Khan and the solar eclipses.

You might find the plots to be quite similar, an untimely death, followed by a family member frantically trying to make something sense out of the death and unraveling of the mysteries related to the religious cults supported by history and fiction. It is the execution that makes all the difference.

If you like historical fiction/thriller, grab The Devil’s Prayer already.