Publication Date: August 26, 2008
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 418 (Hardcover)
I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.
I finished this book over two weeks ago and I have been sitting on this review for what feels like forever, mostly because I have absolutely no idea what to say here after experiencing so many emotions for a book that, honestly, deserves an infinite amount of stars that cannot be given on a scale that maxes out at five. This month was a tough one for both Bekka and I. We kind of went out of our way to eviscerate each others emotions with our recommendations and we definitely both succeeded, but I think she's taking home the W with this one.
Often recommended to me, I ignored this book mainly because I thought it looked weird and the hype monster freaks me out. I could either love it or absolutely despise it and I know many people with differing emotions on this subject. I hate going into a book having no idea what to expect, but this is one of those stories where someone can attempt to describe the entire plot to you and you'll still be completely lost until you read it for yourself. However, Bekka made it inescapable for me not to read this book, so I put on my big girl pants and got to work. I completely understand why Marchetta is such an adored author now.
The first fifty pages of this book is going to make or break any reader's reading experience with this one. They are weird, to say the least, but instead of being turned off by them I found myself to be intrigued. We go from a flashback about five friends that is very hard to make sense of to Taylor Markham, our main character, getting woken up in the middle of the night to discover that she is now in charge of her school's section of the Territory Wars. Yeah, definitely a bit mind-boggling, but both of these things made me want to know more. Honestly, I would read an entire book on the Territory Wars because they sound so interesting...three factions of teenagers fighting over territory, some from school, some from the town, and some cadets who stay in the area for six weeks out of the year. They kidnap each other, try to invade, and try to compromise on land area and it is so entertaining. I would have totally played this as a kid. I almost wish there was more Territory Wars in the book, but I find myself satisfied with not having any because the Territory Wars serve as an undercurrent to discovering why, exactly, those five kids in the flashbacks are so important. But, really, if you give me a book about these kids fighting Territory Wars and nothing else I would totally be happy. Just saying. And that's saying something since the wars are definitely the weakest part of the novel, though absolutely necessary because they brought Taylor, Jonah, Santangelo, and Raffy together.
All four of our main characters are damaged and unique in their own way. So, in other words, I love them all to pieces. There's nothing more enticing to me than watching characters who have been put through the wringer try to stand on their own again and Marchetta does it damn well. She explores the importance of friendship and how strong such bonds can be, but she also explores romance, too. And let me tell you, Jonah Griggs...whew, I am fanning myself. I need one of my own, guys! The night after I finished reading this book I fell asleep dreaming about Jonah as the tears from everything I just learned dried on my cheeks. This cadet is rather dreamy and perfect and I can say no more because I don't want to sully the experience of discovering him for yourself, but he is literally the only boy on the planet that can help piece Taylor and her chaotic life back together again. Literally, he is the only way to make her whole once more. From this review, I'm sure your sensing this is a slight issue book, but even the issues take a back seat to a journey of self-discovery and are, thankfully, handled in an extremely respectful manner.
One thing worth noting is the identity of the mysterious five. I kind of figured a few things out from some foreshadowing here and there. It is slightly predictable for sure, but even that doesn't detract from the overall plot. My gut says remove half a star and my heart says WHO THE F**K CARES WHAT YOU THINK!?!?!?, so this amazing book continues to deserve all the stars because of all the feels.
Jellicoe Road will grip you from page one and will not let you go, even after you're done. Upon completion you will want to read nothing else and instead return to Jellicoe alongside these children. I won't be able to get them out of my mind for a while. I know things said in this review have already been parroted ten times over, but what I will say is that this book takes you on a rocking roller-coaster that shreds your emotions and your heart to pieces only to slowly piece them back together again very, very slowly. If you need an emotional read and are looking for something powerful, I recommend no other book above this one.
Marchetta is a literary force that cannot be reckoned with.