On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham 17, finally confronts her past. Hannah, the closest adult she has to family, disappears. Jonah Griggs, moody stares and all, is back in town. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

There's a girl's silhouet from the back and against the sunlight on the right side of the picture. She's almost transparent. On the left side there's a picture of a road and a group of three walking by it.  Author: Melina Marchetta. Title: On the Jellicoe Road. I’m a plot girl through and through, but there are certain authors that can make me sit down and read a book that’s pure character study and absolutely nothing else. Melina Marchetta is one of those authors. I love how she manipulates words. Sometimes, I still feel like crying myself to sleep over The Piper’s Son and Froi of Exiles only improved on the second reading.

On the Jellicoe Road is a different animal.

The stories of Taylor Markham, Jonah Griggs, Ben Cassidy, Narnie, Webb, Tate, Fitz, and Jude never really came together for me. Marchetta does try to fit all the puzzle pieces together in this disjointed novel, but even the best explanation falls flat when the reader doesn’t care about the characters. Of a character driven story.

See what I did there.

When I’m reading a character driven novel I need to be able to connect with the secondary characters if not with the—unreliable—narrator. Every fragmented scene was merely an anecdote that had happened to someone else, to people I don’t know or wish to meet. It was all so far, far away from me. I’m not talking about the fact that I live in Northern Europe and the author with her characters lives in Australia, I’m talking about the emotional connection that never was.

I did not care.

On a technical level I can admire what Marchetta was trying to achieve by indulging in non-linear storytelling and I wish there were more books like this—only better—to challenge readers of all ages. The problem is she’s not good enough author to pull it off. Neither was Hal Duncan, come to think of it, no matter what the award committees might think.

If the soul of a book is sacrificed at the altar of writing craft, the book fails.

On the Jellicoe Road fails.

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1 Response to On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

  1. OUCH. It is sad when a book of a good writer fails.

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