Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 419 pages
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.
I still remember how I stumbled across this book- I had come across a quote that struck me the moment I read it, and upon googling it, I found that it came from this book. Although I was a bit skeptical due to the vague synopsis, I went in search of it at my local Barnes & Noble a few days later. Though they weren’t carrying it at the time, they had it sent in from one of their other stores, and I picked up not long after that. I began the book not long after New Years, and was a bit confused by everything. But soon, everything began piecing together, and I was trapped in the most raw and lyrical story that I’ve ever read.
Packaging: 4/5 Stars. Although I wasn’t particularly fond of the cover at first, it’s grown on me. As the book progresses, you understand the symbolism of the seemingly insignificant flower on the cover, which is probably why I’ve grown to like it so much. I have the paperback edition (although I’d really like to own the hardback) so I can’t comment on the quality of the sleeve.
Writing Style: 5/5 Stars. Full 5 out of 5 stars. Melina Marchetta is an insanely talented writer, and her writing style is so beautiful and passionate and intense. With her words, she manages to weave a story that’s both devastating and hopeful. She makes you fall in love with these characters and these places over and over again, and you learn something new with every re-read. Nothing has ever grabbed me by the throat the way that this writing did.
Characters: 5/5 Stars. These characters are anything but forgettable. If anything, they are so memorable that their names will be burned into your mind and will leave you desperately missing them when it’s all over. The main protagonist, Taylor, is such an intense character, full of desperation and pride and hurt and witty humor and strength. Though she is difficult at the beginning, even then she has you praying that she will have a happy ending. The background characters, even the most subtle, or ones that hardly have any dialogue at all, or ones that lived long before Taylor did, are so alive and there that their names are no less forgettable than the main character’s. The friendship between the characters in this book, those in the past and the present, is perhaps this book’s most prominent feature. We feel the love between these characters, and no matter the reluctance that this book began with, their bond is forged throughout it all and it leaves you with relationships that you know will last lifetimes.
Plot: 5/5 Stars. The mystery is strongly present throughout this book, and we stand beside Taylor as she fights to find answers. The plot stands strong and doesn’t waver, however, it’s flexible. When new obstacles are thrown at Taylor, she faces them all, presenting us with a storyline that links pieces of her problems until she’s left with one giant answer. We watch as she faces the territory wars, negotiates with the Cadets and Townies, desperately attempts to manage as the head of a house full of students that want to be taken care of, and as she learns to let people in after years of shoving them away. We smile when she learns that it was worth the risk.
Overall: 5/5 Stars. Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road is truly a masterpiece. The life and the love of the characters are so raw and fierce that we mourn them when the book ends. The story itself is no less captivating and powerful, and it is a story that you won’t be able to shake off. Taylor and the people in her life will remain with you long after you finish the book. We weep with her, we laugh with her, we rejoice with her, and we mourn with her. We cheer her on when things get darkest, and we feel her love towards the other characters with the same fierce passion. We applaud her for her strategies in the territory wars, and most of all, we feel it all. We feel the turmoil that this book manages to convey, we feel everything and it leaves us with a jumble of emotions, with one that perhaps stands out above all others- wonder.