Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: June 26th, 2007
Pages: 419
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.

Plot: 5/5
Creativity: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Impact: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Some books are destined to be legendary. Some books are made to be passed down from generation to generation, talked about and appreciated for years and years. Some books are meant to live forever.

I truly, honestly believe that Jellicoe Road is one of those books. A brilliant, moving adventure that links two stories both ridden with poignance and loss but so much love, it's a novel that ignites every emotion you could possibly muster and makes them resound through your entire being, even in the darkest crevices you didn't know existed. This is a novel that speaks to your soul.

The entire novel has two story arcs, and initially, it's a little hazy. One takes place in the present and the other decades before, so it's confusing at first. But as you read on, you discover you're on a forked road, except backwards. Instead of standing at the point of the fork, you're one a lone path, and eventually you reach a crossroad and you realize that there's this whole other path that's been linked to yours all along, and you venture into something greater, together. The two story arcs may seem distant from one another, but you realize they're intertwined, and the best thing is that they build on each other. You learn more about one from reading the other one. It begins unclearly, but as you continue on with the novel everything begins to unravel- actually, it begins to crack open. Instead of falling apart or crumbling away, the story breaks open, making way for a revelation. And then the puzzle that's been cloudy from the beginning starts to rearrange itself, and all the pieces that were beautiful on their own form a bigger picture that, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. Every bit of confusion at the beginning is worth enduring because of the marvel waiting to meet you at the end.

The characters that make up this story are all amazing. Taylor, the main character, is damaged beyond belief, and she's guarded and independent and untouchable. It takes a lot to keep up with a character like hers, but Marchetta expertly molds unique, well-developed characters. Raffy's a gem, Chaz is crazy and Hannah is a mystery, and they all take a bit of credit for Taylor's journey towards self-realization and redemption. But nobody can match Jonah Griggs. The only person Taylor has history with and someone else with a grief to match her own, he's loyal, sincere, impatient- totally different from his tough-as-nails exterior but the contrast compliments his character. He and Taylor are so similar in their sadness and shattered pasts, but their affection for one another is almost miraculous in the way it brings out their vulnerability. 

A story greater than any word can encompass, Jellicoe Road reminds you of the importance of love and friendship and just how redeeming both can be. It's an enigmatic, life-changing work of fiction with an essence so haunting and breath-taking it's hard to believe all of it could fit into just one volume. It leaves a lingering impact on every reader, one so impossible to forget there could only be one word to describe it: immortal.


  1. omgomg i love your review! Jellicoe Road is one of my favourite books ever, and your review totally does it justice. I agree on everything you said, especially your last paragraph :)

  2. I'm so glad I wont this book, because now I want to read it even more. The start of your review; 'Some books are destined to be legendary' is soo good. You got me hooked from beginning to start. Awesome review girl! ;)

  3. OMG! I love this review!

    I want to Barney Stinson it and say it is Legend...wait for it...DARY!

    Marchetta is my new favorite author. I have ordered Jellicoe Road and I'm dying for it to come in. So glad to know I won't be disappointed with it.

  4. Yes, yes, and yes! I'm so glad you loved JELLICOE! It's definitely one of my all-time favorites. And who's a better guy than Jonah Griggs?!

  5. This is one of my favorite books in many years. I'm reading Saving Francesca right now and I also love it. It's not as complex or beautiful as Jellicoe Road, but it has the same banter and strong friendships.

  6. I loved this one, too. I had a bit of a hard time understanding it at first, but once I was hooked, I was really, really hooked. Glad you recognize its brilliance as well!

  7. Wow, I haven't even heard of this book, but now I MUST have it. Thanks for writing such a great, thoughtful review!

    Btw, we are four YA writers and avid readers, and we just started a new blog to talk about YA literature. It's not so much book reviews as talking about different issues, trends, etc. We are hoping to connect with real teen readers, and we would love to see you there!