Lauren Fidler's Reviews > Jellicoe Road

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
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i refuse to give this book fewer stars than i gave Twilight. so, for this 3.5 rating, it's a four. and that's that.

let's get down to brass tacks.

1. literary allusions - i love books that seem to appreciate other books. or maybe i'm just a fan of metatextuality. i'm not sure which. here, the major parallels are drawn between the adolescent inhabitants of jellicoe road and those pesky children of maycomb county. the mrs. dubose sideplot will be an immediate plot spoiler for those of you well-versed in your harper lee; it's not really a hindrance.
2. taylor markham - what is up with reticently stoic female protagonists with hard to get to but emotionally vulnerable nougatty centers? taylor is like scout, if scout grew up without jem and was abandoned by atticus on the side of the road by a 7-11. she will keep you at bay for the bulk of the book, but give her time. she does break down her walls slowly and surely. and you will love her by the end.
3. jonah griggs - the weight of the novel falls on the strength of the relationship between the two broken lovers. jonah is the romeo to taylor's juliet. the peeta to her katniss. the edward to her bella. but you know what else? he's not creepy codependent. nor is he a doormat. and, yeah, he's suicidal, but not because of her. so he wins by default. i actually felt like his story was the most human and his suffering the most potent. taylor's mysteries felt shallow compared to jonah's horrors.

1. literary allusions - wait! this was a positive, right? yes, and, well, sadly, no. there are so many references here that it feels a little bit like someone who LOVES books wants to make sure that the reader understands how well steeped in literature the text is. like my english class. the allusions didn't always fit with the flow of the narrative and felt out of place to me as a result.
2. the linus effect - okay, remember in the charlie brown christmas special when linus makes the speech at the end? when you're little, and you just want to get to the good stuff, that speech takes bloody FOREVER. well, that's the linus effect and that's how the first 100+ pages of this book felt to me. only here, it's compounded because you never know where you are, when you are, or who you are. which leads me number 3.
3. holy confusion, batman! - what is up with the beginning? i'm all for complex narratives but the beginning of this novel makes it virtually impossible to nail down time periods, characters, or plot. for an advanced reader, it's mildly confusing as you work to solve the enigmatic text, but for a young adult reader (who is used to the simplistic prose of Twilight), it's got to be damning. for at least 100 pages or so, i thought i was in some dystopian future. by the end, i'm pretty sure i wasn't. excessively complicated veers on the unnecessary here, methinks.

still, i can see why people buzz about this novel. i felt haunted (in the best way possible); i wanted to read more and finish taylor's story. in fact, i want more, and that's pretty high praise indeed.
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Reading Progress

10/19/2011 page 67
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Jillian uh-oh. can't wait to discuss this with you tomorrow.

Jillian (and isn't it sad that we must judge some books in relation to twilight???)

message 3: by Jess (new)

Jess **i refuse to give this book fewer stars than i gave Twilight. **

I think the real question here is, why did you give Twilight three stars?

Lauren Fidler because as terrible as twilight is and as awful as its message inherently is, i still read the whole series. and that sort of digestible pulp should be acknowledged.

message 5: by Jess (new)

Jess It should. With two stars. Three and you're an enabler!

Though I still think it deserves none.

message 6: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales "who is used to the simplistic prose of Twilight" Ouch.

Lauren Fidler i am cruel only to be kind

Lauren Fidler sidenote: whenever i use the word "sparkly" i think of edward's marble pectorals. am i ill???

message 9: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales Lauren wrote: "sidenote: whenever i use the word "sparkly" i think of edward's marble pectorals. am i ill???"

Oh. I'm so sorry. You might actually be ill. Though, to be fair, I was horrified with myself today because in order to make a point I said, "it's not like you can only pick one and you lose the other, like an Edward and Jacob thing." Such shame.

Lauren Fidler i hate that those codependent losers are so utterly ingrained in our consciousness. seriously, i don't go one week without mentioning something from those books. and now that the previews are out for the next movie, i'm more screwed.

message 11: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales Honestly, I'm SO excited to see Breaking Dawn. I would pay money to see how the directors intend to skirt around uterus ripping with vampire teeth. Romantic.

Lauren Fidler nothing says "eternal love for the ages" like an internally severed uterus

message 13: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales And the weirdly incesty Jacob-vampire baby thing. Which made me SO angry when reading the book. Yet another plot inconsitancy. I mean. She made SUCH big deal about how vampires and werewolves HATE the smell of each other, and yet, here is this half vampire, which, presumably, still smells like at least half a vampire, and wolfboy can't keep away. But I digress.

Lauren Fidler oh gross, i'd forgotten about the imprinting thing. that bothered me more than anything, but i think (*think* being the optimistic description) that stephanie meyers didn't want to leave readers with the realization that reneesme is most likely mortal unlike her moms and pops. so she'll need someone to "grow old with"...but it's still uber-creepy.

message 15: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales Have you seen Breaking Dawn yet? Please tell me you've seen it. It's hilarious. And utterly horrifying. No way that it's truly PG-13.
Also, the imprinting scene? so. many. mixed. messages.

Lauren Fidler no! i want to...but i don't want to spend money on it. i'm sooooo torn. SO torn.

in other news, this conversation happened today while fi was washing her hands.

fiona: i colored with the girls today.
me: oh? what girls?
fiona: uh...mel.a.knee.
me: did you have fun?
fiona: uh-huh. i did. i love melanie.
me: aw, that's very sweet.
fiona: i do. i'm going to see her tomorrow.
me: uh...
fiona: i miss her. a lot.

so...apparently my child loves you and may start stalking you???

Lauren Fidler triple-p.s. - you need to read the boston globe (wesley morris, i think?)'s review of breaking dawn. it is...harsh. i can't believe he got it past the editor.

message 18: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales I could make a Edward-Jacob conflict reference at your torn-ness, but I wont. I'll just suggest finding a cardboard cut out of one of them and distracting twihards with the cardboardy allure of vampire/werewolf flesh. Then you can go in and see the movie without paying the RIDICULOUS people who decided this movie is PG-13. Because that's the only reason it is PG-13. And if the cut out is of Edward, you can glue plastic gemstones on him to make him glitter!
Also, Fiona is marvellous and delightful and incredibly intelligent and all of this you already know because, well, she's your child. I don't quite know how to feel about a two year old stalking me, but I think it is a cross between concern and amusement. If I do find her toddling around the bushes, I'll be sure to let you know.
And, that review was gentle when I compare it to all the things that could be said about the movie. But it did definitely hit the nail on the head regarding subtext/allegory and weird weird editting.

Lauren Fidler i love when he calls the book "subliterary". because he's right. very, very right.

maybe i'll wait a couple of weeks and go to some ridiculously early showing of it with my sister. that way 1. no kids will see us and 2. we can mock loudly with no tweenybopper there to shush us as she cries tears of glittery sadness when bella and edward make it official.

message 20: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Canales I think the showing I went to was full of people who were morbidly curious of the movie, and the entire time there were snickers or snide comments coming from all over the theater. And it was actually my friends shushing me because I was laughing so hard. Oh well. There's no way I can't laugh at Edwards's constantly tortured expression and Bella's simpering stares of desperate longing.

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