Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaJellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by HarperTeen on August 26, 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 419
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Jellicoe Road is one of those books that I’ve had on my shelves and my TBR list for ages. Ever since I joined the book blogging community on Twitter, people have been telling me to read this book. Jellicoe Road was even recommended by multiple people in my long-dead Sadie Hawkins feature. It’s one of the biggies that was missing from my pretty damn comprehensive YA reading history. Gap has been closed. No need to mind this one anymore. And, unlike the rest of Marchetta’s contemporaries, this one totally got me in the feels, so good job, guys.

Initially, Jellicoe Road was a bit of a struggle. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read this book. In fact, I was warned by several people over the years. I’d been told it was confusing if you didn’t understand the Australian school system and that elements of it didn’t make sense for a while. I actually just rolled with the school system stuff, though lbr I understood none of it, but the plot definitely takes a while to coalesce.

For the reader’s convenience, the bits that you will not understand for a good deal of the book are italicized. If you are fucking lost in the italics, it’s okay. Early on, I sort of skimmed them because it was just this flood of names and sadness about those names, and I didn’t know who the fuck those people were so I didn’t have many shits to give.

Taylor’s timeline also took a bit of time to really capture me, because it’s about this years-long feud/prank war thing between the townies, Taylor’s school, and the cadets (a military school that comes for a couple months a year to Jellicoe). They fight over territory and make alliances and deals. I was never particularly invested in this aspect, but it does go somewhere.

The first part of the book, I chugged through slowly. It took me 6 days to get through the first hundred pages or so, and then I read the last 300ish feverishly. Suddenly, the story kicks up to high gear, and I couldn’t put it down. I went from not invested to TOTALLY HERE FOR THIS.

For once, what invested me wasn’t the romance precisely. It was more the OT4 (or OT5 if you count Ben which I sometimes do and sometimes do not) of Taylor, Griggs, Raffy, and Santangelo. The four of them, with the girls from the school faction, Griggs (a cadet) and Santangelo (a townie) getting past the petty rivalry and becoming best friends. It’s a hate to love friendmance for the four of them, and it’s amazing. It’s almost The Raven Cycle level friendship feels, though obviously TRC wins by a landslide because it has way more books to set things up and make relationships more complicated and beautiful. I do ship both of those ships, but the group dynamic was what I loved the best.

Jonah Griggs totally was not what I expected after all the flails I’d hurt about him through the years. I’d expected one of the more typically swoony love interests, someone witty and nerdy, but Griggs is something else. In the first part of the book, I was like chickawut, but he definitely grows on you as he grows on Taylor. He’s flawed and he has some anger issues (understandably), but he’s so fucking fierce depending the people he loves. Actually, all of these kids are that fierce, which is why they make such a strong, perfect, wonderful, heart-rending OT4.

At this point, though, I need to talk about why my rating wasn’t higher. I spent a couple of hours debating over how the heck to rate this, because, on the one hand, it made me cry, which may be a bit more common these days but still is fairly rare and definitely means it made me FEEL THINGS, which is a sign of a top notch book imo. On the other hand, Jellicoe Road has enough melodrama for a season of One Tree Hill. The drama is strong with this one.

Basically, I can’t talk about this stuff without spoilers, so into the tags I go. Follow at your own risk.

View Spoiler »

So yeah, for those of you who haven’t read the book and wisely did not spoil yourselves on literally the whole book, just know that there are SEVEN paragraphs of intensely dramatic spoilers in there. Like damn. Seriously.

Despite the OTH-level melodrama, my heart definitely loved this, and if you’re totally slayed by group friendships/romances/perfection, Jellicoe Road is a must.

Favorite Quote:

It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


5 responses to “Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta”

  1. meg says:


    also, lmao, i’d never looked at the drama in such a consolidated list before and wow yeah okay that is a LOT

    but also idc because I love Jellicoe nearly as much as Lumatere

  2. Funny thing is, I read this a few years ago and LOVED it and I remember how it hit me right in the dang feels so hard, BUT I don’t actually remember anything about the plot or characters now? Does that ever happen to you, where you don’t actually remember the details of a book but would still wholeheartedly recommend it because of a gut feeling?
    looloolooweez recently posted…Sign up for the Wizard of Oz Read-Along!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s basically my whole life. I read so much that very little of it sticks in my brain after I’ve finished it. Within a week or so, a book can be almost completely done, so I have to just trust past Christina’s opinion of the thing. :-p

  3. Idk which of Marchetta’s other contemporaries you’ve read but IMHO this one and Piper’s Son are hand and fist above the rest (and I love all of Marchetta’s work. )

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