Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Bloody Jack

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
L.A. Meyer
YA historical fiction

Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life--if only she doesn't get caught. . . .
I had this book on my shelf for the loooongest time. My friend had shoved it into my hands forever ago. At first it looked to me like a cute middle grade adventure, the kind I would've liked when I was younger, and therefore didn't strike my fancy during the period in which I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey, for example. However, a few weekends ago (yes I'm so behind in my reviews) I opened the first page to see what it would be like and I was hooked.

Let's start with the setting. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON. DOES IT GET MORE PERFECT THAN THAT?? Notice my blog design and you get all you need to know about my favorite time and place to read about. Except this time it's not a grand Institute, no balls or seasons or corsets and carriages. No, in Bloody Jack we visited London as the regular people experienced it - dirty, people dying of diseases left and right and not even getting a proper burial as their bodies are getting picked up by experimenters. Starving orphans on the streets scavenging to survive- that is where we meet or protagonist, Mary.

We learn that Mary actually come from a semi-ok financial situation, and that she was even taught to read. But no money or education can stop the death of your parents by plague and being cast out onto the streets. There Mary is picked up by a gang of smart and tough kids led by the lovable Charlie.

I loved this first part of the book. The way it's written, in Mary's garbled street-speech, the fast pace, the childish way in which Mary understands things - it all sucked you right in to the tragedy that was those kids' lives, but also their fun and adventure and family that they built together.

Throughout the novel, we grow up with Mary. How she gets herself on that boat, cleverly hides her identity as a girl, and takes on the name and role of Jacky. It was incredible how a story about a child became a tale of a ship's boy, but then slowly to that of a woman. Despite the book's blurb, I didn't expect the book to dive that deeply into femininity and what it means to be a woman. The whole theme of it made the story so much more realistic - if you were a growing girl among boys who hasn't seen any grown women in years, it would also be a subject that kept you up at night. In this respect, Bloody Jack was very different from other stories where girls pass as boys, like Leviathan or Alanna.

So, behold:

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