Jason's Reviews > Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
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's review
Jan 24, 2009

did not like it

Oh, I am so disappointed! "Bloody Jack" was terrible. When I was checking it out, the librarian said something like "Bloody Jack! That's a wonderful book!". I'll never listen to her again; I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.


1) A strong anti-rape, anti-sodomy and anti-bully theme.
2) A strong sense of self, as in determining on your own how to act and what to do.
3) A reading-is-good message.
4) A balance of good male characters vs. bad male characters.


1)Older subject matter targeted for 9-12 year olds: the constant dwelling on naked boys, body parts and functions, rape, sodomy, etc., I found a bit much. Maybe this was done on purpose to target young boys, but I think that it was overdone.

2)Zero positive female role models. Aside from the protagonist Jacky, there is not one single positive female influence in the book. You might think "well, its a book about one girl on a ship with hundreds of men and boys". But the first ~50 pages are about her in a street gang that includes girls, but she is not close to any of them. After she is on the ship, she has shore leave a couple of times, but the only woman that she talks to is a whore. Her mother is only mentioned in passing memory.

3) Very simplistic girl stereotypes: If I was a girl, I would be offended at the way Jacky is protrayed in this book.
3a) With very little instruction, Jacky can sew very well, even making dresses from ones that she has seen, with no patterns.
3b) Jacky is constantly crying or holding back tears and having emotional outbursts.
3c) Despite having lived in street gangs with other girls until she was twelve, Jacky has no idea what is happening when she gets her first period. She thinks that she is dying.
3d) Jacky can't help swinging her hips. She likes to show off, dancing, etc.
3e) Boys can't control their urges, so Jacky has to be the one responsible to not let things go too far with her boyfriend.

4) An anti-Jesus undercurrent that I found disturbing.

5) Questionable nautical items: I am not a nautical expert by any means, but I raised my eyebrows at the author's repeated assertion that no one could see Jacky and her pals in the mizzen tops. I could believe "few could see them" or "hard to see them from the deck except with a spyglass", but the author talks as if they are in a enclosed room, even when they are standing up. I also found the "Jacky flies hanging from a kite to another island" a bit far-fetched.

6) Annoying cockney accent writing: I can handle accent writing in small doses, but it is all the way through this book.

7)Very little reflection or reasoning: the story is all told from Jacky's point of view in the form of "I did this and then I did that and then I went to sleep and then I woke up and then I ate and then I said xxx to him and he said yyy to me and ...". Look, one of the positives is that Jacky seems to have a strong sense of self-determination and a good moral compass. But the author provides very little justification or explanation of where she gets that from. It is just there by chance it seems. It is good to tell young people that it is possible to have their own good sense of purpose, but it would help to also give them some direction on how they can get that on their own. There are certainly no strong role models in this book and, too often, none in real life.

8) Poor characterization: The main characters, even Jacky, are very flat without much depth. Many minor characters are introduced, named, and then never mentioned again.

9) What's up with the title? Jacky gets the nickname "Bloody Jack" after killing a pirate (and then goes on to kill several others), but repeatedly states that she doesn't like being called that. So why would the author name the book that? Another poorly mixed message from this book.

Apparently there are a couple of follow-on books to this one. I have no intention of going anywhere near them. Boys might like this book in the same way that they seem to like crude humor, but that is hardly something that I think should be encouraged. Certainly the picture this book gives them of young girls I would hardly call accurate. Even putting aside the problems I have with some of the messages of this book, I would avoid it for the poor writing.

Like I said, very disappointing all around. But being a Hornblower fan, maybe my expectations were too high.

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Comments (showing 1-12)

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Daria LIttle harsh, huh? Those were minor negatives. It was an awesome book!!

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with you on some points: especially in later books, things seemed to lean towards the side of being too mature for the intended age group. Especially because of all the details given on these things, I was dreading that I might turn the page and read too much!
However, I thought Jacky's character was just fine. Some of the others were rather hard to believe, but I didn't think Jacky was one-dimensional or stereotypical at all, in fact I rather admired her determination and bravery.
Another thing: I didn't notice any anti-Jesus undercurrents at all, and I'd really like to know what points to this!

Aartivarma All your criticisms seem extremely ridiculous and mostly non-existent to me.

message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 07, 2010 06:15AM) (new)

I have to agree - most of your negatives seem very unfounded. I especially have to point out this one:

1)Older subject matter targeted for 9-12 year olds: the constant dwelling on naked boys, body parts and functions, rape, sodomy, etc., I found a bit much. Maybe this was done on purpose to target young boys, but I think that it was overdone.

Please tell me what young boys you know that are crawling all over themselves to read a book full of naked boys, sodomy, rape, and "body parts and functions" (which I assume you're using to refer to the menstruation bit). I can't even find grown men that want to hear about menstruation let alone read about it. And I certainly don't think many young boys in the 9-12 bracket are excited to read about naked boys, sodomy, and rape.

message 8: by Maddie (new)

Maddie Senator Thanks for having the courage to bring up the negatives in this book. You're getting a lot of flack for saying all this, but I also found the sexual content and the attempted rape to be too much for the readers the book is aimed at. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Sabrina I have to agree with Elle and besides, the series is specifically rated 12+. I was 12 when i read the book and I think the anti-woman contraversy highlights that Jacky, even though she has to suffer through the harshness that is being a girl at that time period, and it brings out more of how she is strong and how she survived through all the troubles without a woman role model.

Samrat I agree with your positives (except that I'm strongly pro-consensual-sodomy). For me, those outweighed the negatives, but anyone who claims to be an objective reviewer is kidding themselves and I can respect your different opinion. I will point out that the abundant crying and other girl-stereotypes did occasionally bug me, but for me, they're what made Jacky a female protagonist (in my experience, women express their emotions more than men) and not just a copy of the male protagonist model who happens to be a girl.

Rebecca I felt that the prostitute was a positive influence in the story. But, then again, I did happen to love the book so...

Esmë First of all, this is definitely not a book for under 12-year-olds. I don't see how you thought that. However, I think you overstate #1. Second, I didn't sense any anti-Jesus undercurrents at all. As a 17-year-old girl I do not find Jacky's character stereotypical or annoying at all. I mean, she does have her "girly" moments, but come on! I don't expect you to understand this being male, but women are built differently, and it's kind of hard to walk without swinging your hips. I also think you are forgetting that this book was set during the 19th century... No sex ed classes... I have a friend who went to an all girl's school and didn't even know about periods until 7th grade. If that happens now, imagine in the 19th century...

Ashley Curious about where you was anti-Jesus undercurrents. I didn't notice it but I am always missing things... Was there something in particular that you thought was Anti-Jesus?

message 2: by Isabel (new) - added it

Isabel nice slut shaming you got going on there. and an anti-Jesus undercurrent? your review has only made me want to read this book more, honestly.

message 1: by Liz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Liz there was no slut shaming in this review, despite what a previous commenter may have said.
you brought up the negatives I also felt while reading this book. I don't think the subject matter is too intense for kids over 12, and I couldn't care less about anti-jesus stuff, but I agree with your negative and positive feedback. thank you for mirroring most of my before and after sentiments surrounding this book.

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