Vanessa's Reviews > Jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritter
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, historical-fiction, mystery, young-adult, didnt-like, ebook-copy

“I have ceased concerning myself with how things look to others, Abigail Rook. I suggest you do the same. In my experience, others are generally wrong.”

Oh gosh, you can't even imagine how much I wanted to love this book! Even because, then, I would have had the opportunity to buy all the physical copies of the novels of this series and admire the amazingly gorgeous covers they have! Ugh. However, I couldn't really appreciate Jackaby. My rating reflects the description Goodreads gives to it: "it was ok". Nothing more.
But what is Jackaby even about, you're certainly asking? Because the premise is what definitely pushed me to pick it up and I should start from there.
Jackaby, set in New England at the end of the nineteenth century, is the story concerning R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained, the extraordinary, in a world filled of supernatural creatures, who starts a working partnership with Abigail Rook, a British lady looking for adventure in her life because of her craving for independence in a men's world, who becomes his assistant. You see, right? The premise sounds so cool. But it was the execution that failed in maintaining high the whole expectation.

Let's start from the character itself of Jackaby. A thing that made me turn my nose up, but at the same time perpetuated the inner fangirl in me, was that he was initally described as a kind of crossover between BBC's Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor from Doctor Who. You know, when I read about characters I want some news, not clichés or a mixture between two characters who already exist. Knowing them, I noticed what are the things all these three guys share, but Jackaby stands out as the less original and the less fascinating. Let's start from his appearance. He's the exact copy of the - amazingly charming - version of curly-dark haired Benedict Cumberbatch. AND I WOULDN'T COMPLAIN AT ALL IN ANOTHER SITUATION. But what is the meaning of this choice? To appeal his fans? His wardrobe, instead, is again a mix between Sherlock's coat AND the Fourth Doctor's (from Doctor Who, obviously): the last one, in fact, went around wearing a hat and a coloured, really long scarf around his neck. GUESS WHAT JACKABY WAS WEARING !!! Like, I found it to be so irritating and pretentious.
But this is just the most superficial aspect of the whole situation, let's discover his personality, shall we? Again, I was clearly expecting a union between the two main characters of said series and I was right. Sherlock Holmes, even canonically in the novels/stories, is sure to be the most clever person in the room, when he walks in it. And he has every right to think so, because he can be arrogant, rude and whatever you want, but he definitely is a genius, you cannot deny it. And Jackaby? He's not clever (at least, he's not the most clever person in the room, I'm not saying he's stupid). He doesn't own any deductive skills and he doesn't properly investigate. As admitted by him, he has a faerie sight, the ability to see what other people don't see when we're talking about the supernatural dimension. He doesn't use his brain: he just sees things because he has this kind of super power. So, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY RIGHT TO FEEL SUPERIOR TO OTHERS, you're not more clever than other people, you're just gifted! Then, I can't condone his behaviour, I just can't. He just appears to be an asshole two-thirds of the time (what I save about him? Some of his lines and his high cheekbones. A weakness of mine).
Because of the supernatural element, he's kind of similar to The Doctor, too: while he says "oh, can't you see that it's aliens, you fools? aliens everywhere? THIS IS SO GOOD!", Jackaby is like "oh, can't you see that it's *supernatural creatures*, you fools? *supernatural creatures* everywhere? THIS IS SO GOOD!" Again, irritating.

Then, there's Abigail. I don't have a lot to say about her. I liked the feminist view of the whole novel, the fact that she wants to be independent and seeks for adventures doing works women generally couldn't do, but she was a dull, plain character. Seeing such a potential wasted in this way angered me. To begin with, she unbelievably accepts the whole thing that the world she believed was like for her whole life was a lie and that supernatural creatures exist and interfere with the mundane quotidianity. I was expecting a bit of sane scepticism, but no, Abigail is like: "A supernatural dimension exists? Oh, okay. Cool, isn't it? Now let me just talk to this friendly ghost and this human turned into a duck." ABIGAIL??? ARE YOU OKAY??? Then, being Jackaby's assistant, she follows him everywhere taking notes and that's okay. I mean, it's her job. But she goes around stating the obvious and this trait appears to be clever, illuminating to Jackaby. Erm, sorry? John Watson states the obvious because he represents the reader itself. He doesn't appear as extremely brilliant, just human and amazed by Holmes' mind and deductions. Abigail, instead, wants to be seen as the heroine of the day and Jackaby himself is amazed by some of her suggestions, such like "watch in the trash bin". Please, really? Moreover, there's also this glimpse of insta-love between her and (view spoiler) that was utterly out of context, since there wasn't any chemistry. At all.

The mystery itself was predictable. But I liked the whole:
“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They're monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”

Jim Moriarty, anyone? Thus, sadly, the villain was nothing, compared to my precious psychopath.
But, really, the whole plot develops in a couple of days and this perplexed me. It was a quick reading, though: therefore, extremely okay-ish.
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Reading Progress

June 12, 2016 – Shelved
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: mystery
June 12, 2016 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 26, 2016 – Started Reading
June 26, 2016 –
page 24
7.87% "Jackaby's appearance description is exactly the same as BBC Sherlock's one and yeah, I can't complain since I always need a curly Benedict Cumberbatch in my life, but the author could have used a teensy bit of creativity? Even the wardrobe is the same. Besides, the fact that Jackaby has a faerie sight and not actual deductive skills let me down."
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: didnt-like
June 29, 2016 – Finished Reading
January 17, 2018 – Shelved as: ebook-copy

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