Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road (On the Jellicoe Road)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 2006

In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

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Spoiler free review...because it’s too good to be spoiled.

So if you have a lot of book friends, you’re no stranger to book pushing. How they’ll recommend this book or that book and then keep nagging you until you read said book. Usually, I ignore these requests, but when the book pusher is one of your best friends you really have no choice, but to eventually read it. (I can’t tell you the amount of nagging I was subjected to beforehand...months and months worth.)

This is one time that I was grateful for the nagging. Overjoyed really. I’m not quite sure how to put all my feelings into words to adequately describe the effect this book had on me. This book will change your life and will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page. In fact you’ll find yourself re-reading this book...several times and each time you’ll discover something more and you’ll feel something new and different. (I’ve read it four times already and plan on a fifth reading in the next month or so.)

The writing in Jellicoe Road is absolutely beautiful and profound. From the first two lines, I was hooked: “My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.” This passage won’t be ignored and dares you to stop reading. This is one of those books where I’ve literally underlined passages on every other page. The writing speaks to me on every level.

I feel like I went through every range of emotion while reading this book. Primarily because this book has so much emotion in it, without being melodramatic. You feel with the characters and for the characters.

The main protagonist in this novel, Taylor Markham, isn’t immediately likeable (and some readers may never like her). At times I found myself repulsed by her actions and yet strangely sympathetic to them. While I didn’t always agree with her, I understood her. She’s a complex character with complex emotions, or in other words she’s human. She’s someone who I can imagine in real life.

Like her characters, the plot of this book is complex and can seem confusing and disorienting through the first several chapters as there are essentially two stories being told. I’m going to tell you what I’ve told every person I’ve since recommended this book to. Keep with it. There will be a moment when the flow will start to make sense and where everything begins to come together. The gradual piecing together of the stories is a work of art. You will have that “aha!” moment and you will have visceral reaction to it. It will be both beautiful and heartrending at once. I have come full circle as I am now the book pusher telling you to “READ THIS BOOK!”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bride of the Water God by Mi-Kyung Yun

Title: Bride of the Water God
Author: Mi-Kyung Yun (Habaek-eui Shinbu)
Volumes: 22 (ongoing)
Volumes (English): 14 (ongoing)

When Soah's impoverished, desperate village decides to sacrifice her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe that drowning one beautiful girl will save their entire community and bring much-needed rain. Not only is Soah surprised to be rescued by the Water God - instead of killed - she never imagined she'd be a welcomed guest in Habaek's magical kingdom, where an exciting new life awaits her! Most surprising, however, is the Water God himself... and how very different he is from the monster Soah imagined.

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No final thoughts with this one either. Another short post.

While the story line is convoluted and often time confusing, Bride of the Water God is the prettiest manhwa I've ever read. The artwork is downright gorgeous, especially the full color panels. I'll be honest though, I'm not really reading this series for the story, but for the artwork. In fact I'm about 13 volumes in and I'm not quite sure what's going on. The story really doesn't hold my interest.

I like the concept of this series, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I like the magic in the story, especially the magic that leaves Habaek a child during daylight and an adult during the evening. I even like Soah, the human love interest, although I think she's a bit helpless at times. The whole human god love story, while not unique, is an interesting idea. However, all that being said, the story is ridiculously complicated and unclear. I'm not sure if this is a translation issue, bad writing, or a me being stupid issue. It could be a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, I find it hard to relate to a lot of the characters and I find the events to be a bit erratic. Also, the motivation for a lot of the characters seems unclear to me. I mean I understand the emotion behind many of their actions, but I'm not always clear why they feel the way they do.

I will say some of this is becoming clearer as the story progresses, and I think the later volumes are actually better than the early ones, but I still find this series to be a struggle to read and at times rather boring. However, the artwork is incredible. Honestly with some of the panels you don't really need words, the pictures themselves have enough emotion that you can get the gist of what's going on. I do feel that 13 volumes in, I should have stronger feelings for the series which is probably why I haven't picked it up in awhile. I'm just not all that invested. If you're looking for an okay story with beautiful artwork, this is it.