Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by HarperTeen on August 26, 2008
Genres: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary
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This book has moved so many. But all it did was confuse me.
I loved Finnikin of the Rock, so I wanted to check out more of Marchetta’s books, and I’d heard lovely things about this one. Unfortunately, everything about it was a mess for me: the plot, the setting…I was just so turned around.
So apparently the people at this boarding school of sorts are involved in territorial wars that were started years ago, but nobody really knows why the wars continue, and what their point is? The logic behind these territorial wars was poorly-explained, and I got lost in all the seemingly nonsensical rules involved in the war. My confusion made it difficult for me to picture the setting vividly because I was devoting too much time to trying to figure out what the heck was going on.
In addition to the territorial wars, Taylor, our MC, is also struggling with the disappearance of Hannah, who found Taylor on the Jellicoe Road years ago and has been a supportive constant in her life ever since her mother abandoned her. As Hannah’s absence is prolonged, Taylor begins probing into Hannah’s past…and learns more about her own.
It turns out Hannah’s past is actually much more closely connected to Taylor’s than Taylor ever could have imagined, and we get snippets of this past throughout the book. However, the way these snippets are interwoven with the main plot (whatever the heck the main plot was, anyway) makes this aspect of the book just one more layer of confusion, and the final twist was so vaguely explained that I actually had to look up a summary of the twist because I’d read it three times and was still confused. Thus, there was never any payoff for me.
I can see glimmers of good intention in this book, however. There are some touching, well-written moments where we see the impact of Taylor being abandoned (by more people than just her mom), and where we see her trying to grow into her own identity. I liked those moments. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of this book was me just furrowing my brow, leaving me confused by way more than just the hype.