Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Hardback, First U.S. Edition
Release Date: August 26, 2008 from HarperTeens
Pages: 432
Best Enjoyed By: Females (though some Males as well), Ages 14 and up
Rating: A


This review is going to be a bit different. I really don’t have a summary, and the one on the book doesn’t seem to fit either. There are too many elements. You just need to go in head-first, not knowing anything, and read it. But if you’re feeling totally stranded, know this: it’s a story-within-a-story; it’s about a girl who was abandoned; it’s part mystery, part action, part coming-of-age, and part romance. And it is 100% amazing.

Don’t believe me? Read these two quotes. On both I nearly cried, and one is on the second page!

Someone asked us later, “Didn’t you wonder why no one came across you sooner?”
Did I wonder?
When you see your parents zipped up in black body bags on the Jellicoe Road like they’re some kind of garbage, don’t you know?
Wonder dies. (Page 2 from the US Edition, HB)


Tate had lost her younger sister as well as her parents in the accident. “We were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors,” she told him once. “I was paper and she was rock so I lived and she died.” (Page 30 from the US Edition, HB)


Reviewer’s Note:
I should admit that at first I wasn’t impressed by Jellicoe Road (which is called On the Jellicoe Road in the original Australian version). I got to page 122 and just wasn’t feeling it. So I put it away and read some other books. But it bothered me. I hate giving up on a book. Plus I was seeing all these amazing reviews and I thought maybe it got better. So I reread those first 122 pages and then some. And could not put it down. Maybe my brain was in the clouds while I had read it before. Because the book was good. No, the book was incredible.

Actual Review:
The first chapter (not the prologue) of Jellicoe Road is, in fact, not a real beginning. The beginning is in the past, and to understand that you’ll need to read the book. Instead, you begin in the midst of Taylor’s (the protagonist) teenage life and left in complete turmoil. There are little to no explanations provided, no introductions to characters. The plot seems to everywhere and nowhere, as Melina Marchetta doesn’t explain anything until later on. Want more bad news? This is only part of the story, the part going on right now.

The rest is in the past―seventeen years ago―and is, perhaps, even more confusing. This part centers around five teenagers all pushed together on Jellicoe Road after a terrible accident. I believe it documents over a few years, while different types of relationships form and deteriorate. The characters here are just as important as Taylor and her friends.

This is one of those books where you eyes will be glued to the page―and they need to be. Even if you feel compelled to, by skipping paragraphs or pages, it will make much less sense. Because it does start to clear up when you get closer to the end of the book. And I think it’s meant to be confusing, as if to echo Taylor’s thoughts. You just have to stick it out. My suggestion is to just read carefully and when you’re done, maybe even read it again, because you’ll understand certain parts better.

Hopefully I haven’t discouraged you to read Jellicoe, because it is a brilliant piece of literature. One that goes beyond the Young Adult limits and more than just one genre. There’s romance, adventure, action, tragedy, mystery, and some sort of magic, though it’s never called such.

This book is definitely a new favorite and having stupidly never read any of Marchetta’s other books, I am going to ASAP. I can’t guarantee everyone will feel like I did about this book. But you should still give it a try because it’s brilliant, though you probably won’t think so until the end. Jellioce Road is heartbreaking and sad, but there’s always hope fluttering through the pages. I recommend this to anyone.


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Angie said...

I've read several books like that, where the first time through I just couldn't get into the book, so I put it aside and came back and tried to read it again later and I loved it.

Thanks for the review.

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