Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - Book Review #94

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta

"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

So I was confused for the first fifty pages, but I decided it was ok, it will start unveiling soon enough. I read fifty more pages and on the page one hundred I didn’t feel any different, I was still confused. No, something was going on in the book, the story was moving. However, how all these events were connected or what this all actually meant I still couldn’t figure out. I pushed myself for twenty five more pages and I was ready to give up. I remembered I've head bunch of good things about this book, in particular, and about the author, in general. However, I couldn’t remember what these good things were. So before completely giving up on the book, I wanted to read reviews on it. And what did I find? Almost every review started as mine did: I was confused for the first 50/100/150/200 pages. And it when a bit further: You have to push your way through first two hundred pages after that everything will start to become clear. After reading first paragraphs of about a dozen of reviews, I opened my book on the one hundred and twenty fifth page and started to push.

I kept feeling confused, more events were happening and I still didn’t see even one aspect of the story clearly. And I don’t like feeling confused for that long, because when I do, I start feeling stupid. And I don’t like feeling stupid, because when I do, I start feeling angry. As you can see, this is not a pleasant range of emotions.

After all, every reviewer I read was correct, somewhere around page two hundred and fifteen things and events started to become clear. After finishing the book, I have to admit, it was an interesting and touching story, about your basic good things: friendship, loyalty, love, family. However, I have to say this once more with the feeling: Are you fucking kidding me? Half of the book, yes HALF, reads like freaking prologue where reader doesn’t understand a thing and I’m not alone on this one. I’m fine with real prologues in a length of five/seven/fifteen pages, where you don’t understand anything. At least you can come back and reread this type and length of prologue after finishing a book with the knowledge to understand the events. But two hundred pages? Sorry, I can’t start rereading the book I just finished, the book that tortured me for the half of its length.

Even though at the end Jellicoe Road did deliver, I still couldn’t forgive its more than imperfect writing. (I blame this infection of confusion, which got a lot of readers, on the writing style. I believe that the story idea was really good.) I still couldn’t love this book, even though it has what to love it for. I hated the first half and I loved the second. So at the end my impression about the book in general is a mathematical average, which comes to… hmm… it was ok… I guess…


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