Meredith's Reviews > Jamrach's Menagerie

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, historical-fiction, male-protagonist, trauma, adult
Read in August, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Who here knows the story of the whale ship Essex? Anyone? Anyone? If not, for shame. You should read "Moby Dick," or at least watch The Discovery Channel more often. There was some foreshadowing in this story which made me believe that things were going to go very, very wrong, but they went so much wronger than I ever could have imagined...or something like that. For those of you who are familiar with the story of the Essex, how would you like to read 100 pages of fan-fiction based on that lovely little tale? That's pretty much what happens for the last half of this book.

I was really feeling more 3.5 starsish about this one. Sometimes the plot moved at a good pace, and I was dying (perhaps a poor choice of words) to know what was going to happen next. At other times, especially at the beginnings of chapters, Jaf, the main character, would wax nostalgic about something inconsequential for two pages, or spend so much time describing his feelings with flowery text that he'd have put the Bronte sisters to shame. While I know that Birch was probably trying to emulate the popular writing style(s) of the time, heaping piles of unnecessary adjectives bore me to no end. Pick a couple of descriptive words that will do the job well, and be done with it.

At the very least, this book taught me that drawing straws is usually not a great idea. If someone's gotta go, just kill the person everyone hates, even if it's not fair.
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