Friday, May 14, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder If I'm Out of Touch with the Rest of the World.....

I finished reading Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta last night and was quite glad to be through with it, just to be honest. I was so tired of the "drama." I know it must be tough to have been abandoned by your mother. I know it's infuriating when everyone around you seems to know more about your history than you do, and no one's talking. But I thought if I saw one more line where Taylor said something to the effect of "I knew if I looked at it, a piece of me would die," I was going to go into a hysterical fit worthy of any high school drama queen.

Let me say first of all, that I'm separating the content of the message from the telling of the message. The story in and of itself was interesting (though it could have been told in about 250 pages instead of 419, imho). Who doesn't love a good mystery in which the pieces slowly come together? (although I'll admit I had the whole mystery figured out by a little past halfway through the book, and I swear this time I did not read ahead!)

I just find it really hard, though, to focus on the plot and themes when the main character was not someone I could empathize with.  I just didn't like Taylor. There, I said it.  I didn't like Jonah much, either. I didn't like Hannah much. I thought Raffy and Ben were sort of cliche' sidekick characters. Let me tell you, if there's going to be as much whining and drama as went on in this book, you've got to like somebody to be able to put up with it.  I got very annoyed at Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; but I already loved Harry, so I was able to bear up under his bout of self-pity and wait for him to come out of it.  I'll admit that once Taylor found out what she wanted to know, she became more bearable, and I might have even learned to like her somewhat. Of course, that was the end of the book. She was just so mean and self-centered early on that I was repelled by her character.

However......what do I know? This book was the 2009 recipient of the Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  Other bloggers describe it as "lyrical" (I thought the writing was flabby), and as "so beautiful and powerful that everything else pales in comparison," and as "intricately told and well written." I guess I just don't "get it."


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