25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2008
Taylor Markam was abandoned by her mother at a 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road when she was a mere eleven years old. Only moments later a woman by the name of Hannah picked her up and brought her to the Jellicoe School. Now she is seventeen and finds that Hannah is a rock in her inconsistent life. While she has Hannah, Taylor doesn't know much about her family except the horror stories she remembers of her mother.
She does find comfort, though, in a manuscript that Hannah has written about a group of five friends who met in the worst circumstances, but developed a remarkable friendship when they only had each other. When Hannah just up and leaves, Taylor doesn't understand what has happened and she becomes a wreck. Not only does she have to deal with Hannah's disappearance, but she has just been named the head of her House and the leader of the school kids in the annual territory wars against the "Townies" and "Cadets."
In the war, the three groups battle and negotiate, following an extensive set of rules that might as well be history. As the war wages on, Taylor learns to take an active role in her community, as well as develop relationships that she never thought possible. Especially with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets, whom she already has quite a history with.
This war will be like no other. It will not only be between the normal three parties, but among friends, hearts desires, and, most of all, Taylor herself.
From the title I was expecting a light and fun read. Wow, was I wrong! This book is filled with heartbreak, joy, laughter, and sorrow. It completely blew me away and surpassed every expectation I had, even though I was expecting something completely different.
Before I even get into the elements of the story I have to comment on how much talent the author has. Melina Marhetta's writing style is indescribable. It seemed that she was so comfortable writing the story and her words just flowed from page to page with great clarity. I loved how the author weaved many intricate details and mini-stories into one big story, making it like a puzzle that slowly comes together until those last couple of pieces just fall into place.
The only miff I had with this book is that it took me probably until the third chapter to actually understand what was going on. In the beginning, there were two stories and it was hard to wrap my head around everything that was happening. After that, though, it seemed the author settled into writing and the story took off.
Taylor, without a doubt, is one of the best characters that I think has ever been created. She has this true voice where you can hear and feel her emotions ring out. By the time the book had ended I felt like I knew Taylor like I know my best friends. While Taylor was the main character, the author did a fabulous job creating the other characters, too. Unlike many supporting characters in books, the characters in JELLICOE ROAD all had their own voices and became their own people, with real and likable personalities.
I highly recommend this book to readers everywhere. Whether you're a girl or a guy, you will treasure this novel and hold it near and dear to your heart for a long time to come. JELLICOE ROAD is a beautiful love story, a heart-wrenching story of loss, a poignant self-discovery, and, most of all, an unforgettable tale.
Pre-order this book NOW!! It hits stores August 26 and you don't want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind novel.
Reviewed by: Tasha
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
Jellicoe Road is an engaging read, and I flew through it, but upon reflection I have several qualms. The first is that the book begins so confusingly. Yes, there is pay off for the obscurantist beginning, but it was far from the most engaging way to begin the book. I found the flashback storyline that starts in the prologue is told in a (possibly deliberately) confusing and difficult to follow way. However, I did unravel the book's mystery about halfway though, long before Taylor, the protagonist, ever did, and she had a lot more information than I did. Made me wonder why a character depicted as so sharp was so dense when it came to this matter. Marchetta gives her selective amnesia about her past, but I found that rather ham handed and contrived.
My main issue with the book, then, was all the secrets. Why not level with Taylor about her family? Why keep the kid in the dark about who her father is and how he died, who her aunt is, just exactly what her mother is up to, and who the Brigadier is? She was obviously tormented by the mystery, but instead of telling her, her beloved Hannah just disappears, nary a word. Her mother had also abandoned her, and no one tells her anything. These adults, who we are to believe love her and each other so much, lie to her for years through omission despite her burning need to know, so deep that she ran away to try to get some answers when she was 14. None were forthcoming. Do people really treat children they love this way? And to what end? She knows that everyone around her has more information than she does, and they just dole it out in little dribbles, surely a technique that it meant to serve the plot more than it is to serve as realistic character development.
I felt like, in the end, Marchetta created and perpetuated a mystery for the sake of a big, dramatic reveal-- and it was, and it was moving, but as I often find with YA lit and movies, the adults behave badly, keep secrets for no good reason, all for the sake of the author's darling, the big cathartic ending. At least Jonah Griggs has the decency to hate Hannah for her deceit.
I could also mention that every single childhood trauma imaginable is thrown into this plot (dead, unknown parents, absent guardian, child molestation, kiddie porn, child abuse, patricide, cat drowning, child abandonment, teen suicide, a child witnessing a suicide, a huge fire, a junkie prostitute mother, etc)... Yeah. And it still got 3 stars from me, so go figure.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I'll admit it, I amost gave up on this novel. I put it off for weeks, after reading only 30 pages, because it just wasn't grabbing me. Yet, I continued to hear how incredible it was, and after a few weeks I promised myself I'd just jump in and finish it before I moved onto another book.
I'm so glad I did continue and gave JELLICOE ROAD another chance. I've read so many YA books, and I've never been one for having favorite anythings, but this novel is seriously close to topping the charts of all books that I've read. The beginning is slow-moving and it does not make much sense, but as the story continues, the magic happens. I learned more about Taylor Markham's life, the mysteries wrapped around her, and the "wars" she participated in. I don't want to say much about the plot because I'd hate to ruin the magic of the story, but this book was extraordinary and so much more than I expected it to be. I'd highly recommend it.
HIGHLIGHTS: Weaving the stories from the past into Hannah's manuscript, I loved learning everything with Taylor. There was always more to keep me curious, keep me turning the pages. I also loved the "wars", because they were so entertaining at times. Jonah's backstory was a blow to me, and I wasn't expecting what he says to Taylor about the day at the train station. It was an interesting shock, and I'm rarely surprised when reading.
LOWLIGHTS: It was incredibly hard to get into at first, but as I got to chapter 3, or 4, I was was hooked. I didn't want it to end.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2009
I can honestly say, this is one of the best books i've ever read. It's my favourite, along with Saving Francesca. My sister got our first edition from her friend in Australia. While she was reading it I was not interested in it until she forced me to read it. I couldn't put it down.
Taylor Markham is an abandoned child in Jellicoe School. She lives in a boarding school. Her care taker is a girl called Hannah, whom Taylor is very close to. Taylor strives to find the truth about who she is. Along with her friends Ben Cassidy, Raffaela, and Santangelo she finds that friendship is the closest thing she can have to a family. Along the way she falls in love with the enemy, unearth secrets about her past, and is the leader in a war she does not want to happen.
This book made me laugh, and from a specific point onwards I cry non-stop, despite having read it over ten times. Easy read and catchy plot, Melina Marchetta does not fail you!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2014
I wanted to love this book. I was so sure I would. I remember epicreads posting quotes and pictures on Instagram and I immediately bought the book. So what happened?
The book began in a very confusing way. There was no introduction to the character. It went from a italicized prologue to a 22 years later heading and then straight into the narration of Taylor Markham. Her voice was not different from the italicized sections, so at first I thought my Kindle bugged out and I wasn’t reading the beginning because I was so confused. Who is narrating? Is this not the same person? Where are we? What is happening? What war? WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?! Why am I supposed to care? What is important? WTF?!
I felt like that for about 30% of the book, which is quite a large section to be confused and irritated. I knew from other reviews that the book would pick up soon and make sense, but I promised myself I would not rate it 5 stars even if I loved it because I wouldn’t forget how irritated the beginning was. Yes, now that I’m done it makes sense. Yes, it was a good story. Yes, I even cried. But the execution of Jellicoe Road was horrible and it’s not okay. I don’t forgive the author for the beginning. It should have done what beginnings of stories are supposed to do and explain, build, and draw me in. Not confuse the hell out of everyone. It’s not brilliant that it all “comes to together in the end” and makes sense. It’s crap.
I loved the actual plot. I eventually enjoyed Taylor’s narration, even if I never quite connected with her. I still don’t feel like I knew her at all, but at least the pieces of her life were put together. I loved the end result of Jellicoe Road. It could have been an unforgettable and amazing story. I cannot say whether anyone was believable because I felt so disconnected from everyone. I was so confused for so long. I was angry at Taylor for being dull and not giving me more information. I liked figuring out who was who and finding out so many memories and layers were all interconnected, but I wish the execution of the story was different and smoother.
I wish I could give Jellicoe Road more credit for being amazing, but I just couldn’t get over the way it was told. I am frustrated that it wasn’t better and more organized because I would have absolutely loved it. I am used to strange writing styles, being thrown into a story, and being told two different stories. I’m used to YA. I’m used to this kind of fiction. Unfortunately, this just didn’t work for me. I am giving it 3 stars because it was a good story, so I don't want to underrate it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2010
Everyone wants to discover life-changing things, whether they come in the form of events, people, paintings, or books. If you're lucky, you will experience these encounters more than once.
I was lucky. I read JELLICOE ROAD. This extraordinary book changed my life, and maybe it will change yours, too.
To tell the truth, JELLICOE ROAD kind of ruins you temporarily for all other books. For several days after I finished this book, I wandered around in a daze. I picked up books, halfheartedly read the first few pages, then put them down and wandered away. Nothing seemed to match the magical dream-come-true that was genius author Melina Marchetta's third novel.
It starts out confusingly. What's going on? Why is there so much tension between all these people? Who are they, anyway? What do they want? Why are they so serious about their situation? But then, invariably, you'll get sucked in. It's probably a little like how the average person might fall in love: you can't pinpoint exactly when someone became special to you, all you can say is that it happened, and you can't even remember back to a time when they weren't special to you.
The narration and plot progression of the book reads like a dream: choppy and distracted in a whimsical manner. Don't expect a conventional story arc, or you'll probably get really frustrated. Best if you just let it happen as it does.
JELLICOE ROAD reads like someone laughing through tears. I couldn't help but smile as Taylor, Jonah, and the others endeared themselves to me even before I could figure out what was going on between them all, even as their painful discoveries about their tragic pasts tugged at my heartstrings.
A story this magnificent, this heartbreaking, shouldn't have this much hope...but it does. That's the beauty of this book. Melina Marchetta has written a book that is so much more than a simple story in words: it takes on a life of its own.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2011
I read a lot of YA books, even though I am 26. However, I usually prefer paranormal or fantasy type YA, because more realistic teen fiction tends to bore me since I can't relate to general high school drama. This was NOT the case with Jellicoe Road. This book is fantastic and very well written. I checked it out from the library and didn't want to give it back when I was done. The plots are quite intricate and you do need to pay close attention as you are reading. The first part of the book is slightly confusing because it is hard to tell what is going on. However, that just makes it all the more satisfying when you finally figure out how everything is connected. Once you get to the middle of the book, it is hard to stop reading. I am definitely buying this book, it is one that I will want to read again and again. The characters are believable and likable, the language is great, the emotions are real. Do yourself a favor and read it! You won't be disappointed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
Jellicoe Road is incredible. I have no idea how Melina Marchetta wrote it, nor do I know how she managed to weave such an intricate tale spanning over 22 years. It's one of those books that refuses to let you go until you've reached the end, and it's a story that really does stay in your head for days. I loved it so much, I'm seriously considering reading it again.
The first 100-120 pages are pretty confusing. The past keeps appearing, people and places are alluded to, and nothing makes a lot of sense. After that, everything slowly starts slotting together, in what is possibly the best depiction of friendship I've ever come across. I can't really say anything else without giving something away, but here's a tip: read the prologue a couple of times, and read it carefully.
Marchetta talks about the Jellicoe Road like it's a character in itself, and it's just brilliant. If I could zap myself to that road right now, I would. I want to experience the Australian beauty she describes in such detail, and whether it's a real road or not, I want to go there. As you've probably guessed, the novel is primarily character-driven, and that's why I loved it so much. I haven't liked a group of people so much in ages, and their realism astounded me. The original 5 - Webb, Narnie, Tate, Jude and Fitz - are off-the-chart awesome, and their friendship is so inspiring. It's how every friendship should be and, although the circumstances in which they meet aren't favourable, it's the catalyst for a bond that will last a lifetime.
In the present, Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs are the main protagonists, along with Santangelo, Raffy, a mysterious Brigadier and numerous other classmates. They're all in the middle of a turf war between the boarders, the townies and the cadets, which is a tradition that has been taking place for years. The turf war is a fantastic plot, and that alone would have made this book amazing. I could talk for hours and hours about these characters, so I'll just say that Taylor is one heck of a leading lady, and Jonah Griggs is now one of my top YA boys. *swoon*
The way Jellicoe Road unfolds is nothing short of genius, and it's a book that is guaranteed to leave you in tears. I know this review explains nothing, and doesn't tell you why it's an absolute must-read, but if I said anything else, it would ruin it. You need to approach it knowing nothing more than the summary, then you too can experience all the OMG moments that I did. Fellow YA fans, you NEED to read this book. You'll fall in love with it, I promise.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2010
I don't know if it's because I am not the target age of the book, or if I just didn't care for the many twists and turns, but I did not like this book. I didn't care for the odd way the mystery was solved, the way the drama was solved, the way the loose ends were tucked, or any of it. As an English teacher, I knew where all of the elements had come from: there's a bit of classic (T.S. Elliot's influence in the title, some A Separate Peace in the war games/Peace Tree, etc.)
I could definitely tell I was reading a book written for modern teens, but there were times I felt the book was too disjointed and too outrageous--I have experienced the death of my brother and I know it's completely devastating. That's believable. But having a "serial killer" and all the people she's connected to? How many coincidences needed to line up for this story to work? There's too, too much. The boyfriend was shattered & suicidal. The main character was broken & drowned a cat. The aunt was "dead" to the world. The mother was a drug addict. Fitz was crazy. She thought her uncle was a homicidal maniac. No one was normal. Everyone was way, way too nuts.
I am not recommending this book.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
Taylor Markham was abandoned on the Jellicoe Road when she was eleven. At seventeen she attends the Jellicoe School, where 10% of the students are also wards of the state, like her. It's convenient for Taylor, whose caretaker, Hannah, lives right outside school property. At the beginning of her senior year, she finds herself elected not only leader of her dorm, but leader of all the Jellicoe dorms in the Territory Wars in which her school, the Townies and the Cadets (who camp in the local bushland every year) participate. The rules have been passed down year after year in a purple notebook, and Taylor is under pressure to make sure things go smoothly for Jellicoe. However, just as things are getting underway, Hannah leaves without notice, and Taylor's life is in turmoil. She discovers that the manuscript of Hannah's that she's been reading over the years might be more than just a story, and she discovers that the Cadet she claims to have no history with might be more than just a one-time acquaintance. As the leaders of the various groups get closer through the War, they find that there is more to their game than they ever thought, and Taylor discovers that her family history is more complicated and bittersweet than she'd ever imagined.
Marchetta's book is beautiful, but stricken with slow pacing that may not catch the attention of many readers. While the snippets of Hannah's manuscript and the peeks at romance certainly make things interesting, the plot doesn't pick up until at least half way through the book, and the Territory Wars are confusing at best until the very end. This is a book that I would certainly recommend to teen readers, but not without the caveat that they really need to stick with it to get to the good parts.