Sunday, October 31, 2010
This one was recommended to me by so many people – reviewers I trust – I thought I was going to fall in instant love. But on my first reading (yes, I ended up reading it twice), I was pretty close to hating it. There are two narrative threads – Taylor in the present, and then some seemingly random and unrelated stories about 5 other teens written in italics. For the first 100 odd pages, I was honestly stumped as to why anyone would love this novel.
In the present day, the territory wars were just irritating. I just didn’t care about Taylor and her tenuous grip on power. She’s not a terribly likeable character anyway. She’s prickly, standoffish and often talks to some imaginary guy in a tree. And deal breaker alert – she drowns a cat.
And the 5 teens in italics – that whole part was just confusing. Who were these people and why am I supposed to care? You don’t find out until way into the novel, and by the time you do, for me it was too little, too late.
The second half is a much better read – you’re getting answers and you are getting some steamy action with Jonah Griggs. And even if it is with cat-killer Taylor, it’s still quite touching. They are both broken, and find in each other kindred spirits. Awww!
But still at end of my first reading, I felt so much aversion to the book, I was embarrassed to admit it. I thought there must be something wrong with me. Was I just an unfeeling monster? How could I not like it when it won so many rave reviews and the 2009 Printz?
So I put it down for 2 weeks and read it again last night. And yes, I enjoyed it much more upon the second reading. Knowing the end, I could finally read the beginning without confusion. It was easier to concentrate and to sympathize.
I have to say, though, I think a book is fundamentally flawed if you have to read it twice before you can really get into it. I’d have been more impressed if Marchetta had found a way into the story that retained some of the cryptic, tragic character, but in way that made me care from the beginning.
JELLICOE ROAD is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.