Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta | Book Review

Jellicoe Road Melina MarchettaBook Title/Author: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
: HarperTeen 2010 (first published in 2006)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Saving FrancescaLooking For Alibrandi, The Piper’s Son, The Lumatere Chronicles

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I bought this with my own cash money!





When Taylor was eleven she was abandoned by her mother who always seemed to really struggle in life. A woman finds her and enrolls her in a boarding school where she lives but one day, when Taylor is 14, she tries to go find her mother and meets Jonah Griggs on her way. They embark on the journey together, despite all of these kidnappings happening nearby, until someone shows up to bring Taylor back to school out of the blue. Now Taylor is a year 12 and she’s been passed down the torch to be the leader of the school’s secret underground society that deals with the territory wars between the neighboring Townies and the Cadets (led by none other than Jonah). When Hannah, the woman who had been sort of taking care of her, disappears Taylor struggles to deal with the pressure of the territory wars as well as trying to figure out where Hannah went and why she would leave her.

WOW.  This is one of those situations where I felt like I was the last person to read this book after SO many people I trust said IT IS A YOU BOOK.  The only three things I knew about this book? That it was from a beloved Aussie author, that all people I trust implicitly said it was AMAZING and an all time favorite and that it was going to be a slow start but I should stick with it. I didn’t even know what it  was ABOUT. I just bought it blindly years ago because of the incredible love it was getting.

Jellicoe Road was devastatingly beautiful but it definitely was a little bit of a slow burn like everyone says. You aren’t hooked right away but, if you are like me, by the end you find yourself with a steady stream of tears falling for the last 30-40 minutes of reading it without realizing you are really crying.  On the surface, as you begin reading, it’s hard to see how this is all going to come together as it seems liked it was just this story of these kids in boarding school and their silly territory wars with the Cadets and the Townies. I was definitely intrigued from the beginning, I mean the first sentence of this book is WOW, but I definitely didn’t FEEL anything and felt confused as I patiently waded through some of it. I felt confused as it switched from this part in italics and then Taylor’s part and I kept not remember who characters were but then it slowly comes together and I understood what was going on with the italicized parts.

The thing is even though I didn’t really connect at first I was intrigued, as I said before, but I could just FEEL like something was bubbling under the surface to really bring this together. It was a lot like those rides at amusement parks where you ascend slowly to the top of this tower and then you wait and wait and wait and then you get to the top and you are just dangling there knowing you are going to be dropped at any moment and the anticipation in your gut feels like it could kill you. That’s what reading this felt like — I knew eventually the bottom was going to drop out and my emotions were just going to be in freefall and out of control….it was just the wait that put my stomach into knots.

The mystery and the two stories came together in an amazingly crafted and heartwrenching way. It was a double slaying as we started to put the pieces together because I felt like I was always one to two steps ahead of Taylor in putting the pieces together (but kind of sidestepping and unsure) and it a swift punch to the gut but then when I had to watch Taylor find out the things that I already put together it completely annihilated me and finished me off. My heart felt like a demolition site — the wrecking ball and the dynamite just leveling me completely.

This book really was such a me book. There was such emotion and heart. The writing was beautiful and haunting. I connected to the characters and I just can’t stop thinking about them. A swoonworthy boy! An interesting story that is so layered and perfectly plotted! All these things just came together so amazingly and just felt like one of those perfectly constructed stories for me — the heart and emotion and the friendship and the love just making me FEEL SO MANY THINGS.

Jellicoe Road is a new favorite for sure and now I must get my hands on every Melina Marchetta book ever. I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype but it did that and more as I was reading it before I even realized it. My husband had to point out that I was crying consistently in the end of the book. My emotions just forced themselves out but I was too absorbed in the story to notice. It was just so amazing that I feel like I never want to read another book again but at the same time I just want to devour every story ever just to feel like this again.




Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you find it slow in the beginning or were you fine? ALSO, did you put the pieces together before Taylor? Which Melina Marchetta book should I read next??





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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Oh, I hate it when books are a bit slow at first, but good to know this one picks up eventually. I bought this one awhile ago too and have yet to read it, but it’s on the pile! Oh, and its an emotional and serious book? I might have to take my time reading this one. Great review Jamie!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  2. I’ve been hearing such great things about this book! I’ve even checked it out from the library on multiple occasions but just never got around to it. But after reason this review I realllllly think I ought to read it. And soon! Thanks Jamie!

  3. I love everything about this story. It is in my top favorite books of all time for sure. I love that there are so many tiny moments in this book that together make a powerful impact. I can flip to any page in the story, start reading and find the magic again. I always feel a kinship with people who read this book and GET it. Plus Jonah Griggs just makes me swoon. The things that boy is willing to do for Taylor. I love him.

    I knew what was going on with the two stories from pretty much the beginning, but even though it wasn’t a surprise, I still love this book so much. Also, I was warned that it would start slow, and agree that it has a bit of a dreamlike quality at first, but it didn’t take me long to engage.

    Have you read any of MM’s other books? I would suggest Saving Francesca and then The Piper’s Son if you want contemporary, or The Lumatere Chronicles if you want some fantasy. Those stories stole my heart. The good thing is that you have so much more of this author’s amazingness to discover!

  4. I love this book so much and your review makes me want to reread it. I remember feeling like it was slow in the beginning, too. I would recommend Saving Francesca next, I just reread it the other day. I don’t love it as much as Jellicoe but I really enjoy it and it’s also a tear-jerker which is sometimes nice.

  5. This is one I’m saving for my honeymoon – I’m so excited to read it and not worry about blogging about it until much later. I’m glad that you didn’t go into the plot too much in your review…like you, I don’t know anything, and I almost don’t want to know. Can’t wait to get swept up in it like you did!

  6. Yay, I’m so happy you finally read it! And so happy you liked it! I definitely agree with everything you said in your review. I was SO confused at the beginning but as it progressed, I just fell in love with the story. It’s so magical and every single time I think about it, I get EXCITED CHILLS. 😀 Great review!

  7. Wow, you make this book sound so good. I tried reading it, was still bored by page 100, and couldn’t bring myself to go on, but everyone keeps telling me it gets better and I should continue. Maybe I’ll consider it, since you say it becomes remarkable toward the end. 🙂

  8. I have seen this book around a lot not but never really took a look at any of the reviews. I finally decided to read one and I’m glad I did. I have added this on my TBR pile. It sounds like a really good book and I want to thank you for the heads up about the beginning. Sometimes I can get antsy at the beginning of a book if it takes too long to get moving. Great review!

  9. This is probably one of the best reviews of this book I’ve read. The one I wrote after reading the book was kinda rubbish, I felt like all the good words to describe the book had already been used! I reacted the same way you did, I feel all warm and happy and a little sad every time I think of this book.

  10. Every time I see someone discover how wonderful this book is for the first time it gives me warm happy feelings all over again remembering when it was me. It is one of those books that just sticks with you always.

    As for your next Marchetta, I recommend Saving Francesca. It is my favorite-though that may be because it was my first.

  11. YAY! I am so glad you liked it! (Told you so!!!!) Jonah Griggs is my favorite YA boy of all time so far. Le swoon!

  12. I read this book a few years ago and was expecting great things. I don’t remember feeling like it started slow for me (but I got through the first half of the book in one night). I also was pretty quick to figure out the link between the two stories- I realize now that this makes me sound like a know it all. But I’m not. I was so engrossed in this story when I first read it. It took over my life. Jellicoe Road has got to be one of my most favourite reads. So many feels. I am glad you liked it, and trusted all those who said you should read it.

    I have since read a couple of her other books (Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son) and have enjoyed them both. But none like Jellicoe Road. You should still give them a try though.

    Sara @ Just Another Story

  13. Yay! It feels weird to be celebrating the fact that you liked a book that wrecked you, but this is such an amazing story, despite being so devastating!

  14. I am so, so glad that you were finally able to read Jellicoe Road! It’s such a brilliantly written book, and I fell in love when I read it. Marchetta’s writing is lovely, and the story is so cleverly woven together for maximum emotional impact. Just reading your review made me want to read it all over again!

  15. That’s great that the book was able to live up to the hype for you! I agree with everything you said in this review. I do think that the initial slowness of the plot and confusion about characters and events made the eventual revelations that much more powerful. I’ve only read Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock by her so far, but I definitely plan on reading all of them eventually.

  16. I’m glad you loved this one! Melina Marchetta is an absolute gem. I love all her books (5 star reads for me) but my absolute favourite would have to be Saving Francesca. I’ve read it 4x in a span of one year and I rarely re-read books since my tbr list is so long. It’s one of those books that appear unassuming and then it’ll kick you in the gut so subtly. Not as tragic as Jellicoe but it’s just as emotional. I related to that one better than Jellicoe too. Hope you get the chance to read it! 🙂

  17. I read this last year, and I’d heard all the advice: it’s going to be confusing — you have to give it MANY pages to make sense, but then you are going to love it. I can handle slow burn books that are confusing but have a pay off in the end, for example, Code Name Verity. However, Jellicoe Road did absolutely nothing for me. I was always confused as to who was who and the narrator, etc. I wanted to love it, and cry and be swept away by this amazing ending twist and everything but I just couldn’t 🙁 That said, I still think I’ll try some of the author’s other books, since the writing was pretty well done.

  18. I haven’t read Jellicoe Road yet, but your review is really making me want to pick it up! I definitely have been wanting to read a good contemporary with some deeper themes lately. This one is going on my TBR list! 🙂

  19. Haven’t read this but I’m going to need to check it out! I really loved Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock, which is part of the Lumatere chronicles.

  20. Oh my goodness Jamie!! It makes me SO INSANELY HAPPY that you read and loved this book! Seriously. It’s no secret that I have SO MUCH LOVE for this book, and it legitimately makes me ecstatic when I see people who also love it. Melina Marchetta FTW! :p

  21. Rachel Spring says:

    You weren’t the last person to read this book because I still haven’t! I have been meaning to but there have been so many awesome new releases (plus plenty of old books) that I haven’t gotten around to it! I have heard it is awesome though and I am glad you loved it!!

  22. Ooh I just love this book — definitely my favourite. I didn’t find it super slow or confusing, but there was always that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop — to completely figure things out, and then, like you said, waiting for Taylor to figure things out. There’s just something epic about this book… I just love it so much. I definitely need to to another re-read sometime soon!

  23. Dude, I love your review of this. I’ve had it bookmarked for AGES it seems, because even though I didn’t have the time to read it quite yet, I WANTED TO KNOW what you felt after reading this beautifully crafted “double slaying” story. I CAN’T DEAL. I like convoluted and soft prose and the confusion of the opening of the book; I was sucked in right away. But that blow to the chest, and that gasping breath you take after the unexpected punch gets under your guard… that’s the kicker of this book. That’s where you sink, and you cry, and you get all messed up even as you cling to the hopeful ending after so much devastation.

    THANKS FOR LOVING THIS BOOK. It brought happiness to such an early start in the day. 😀

  24. Michelle Reed says:

    If you think this is good read Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, and Quintana of Charyn. So much different than most of her contemporary and realism style of stories. These books are high fantasy, adventurous, romantic, and heartbreaking. Truly fantastic stuff!!!

    • Absolutely agreed! Another BFF ship I love is the one in Chaos Walking trilogy between the two main characters. I’m being as vague as possible to avoid spoilers 🙂

  25. One of the most beautiful and exquisitely written books I have ever read. This book will forever remain one of my favourites. Great review, Jamie!


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