Friday, August 1, 2014

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

I've been seeing this series around Rainbow Plaza for some time, and I've finally worked up the nerve to borrow it (I hesitate to approach series that seem awesome just in case they don't live up to expectations). Thankfully, this book is as good as I hoped!

Bloody Jack is the story of Mary "Jacky" Faber, an orphan girl who, after the death of the leader of the gang she was in, disguises herself as a boy and gets a position as a ship boy on the HMS Dolphin due to her ability to read. Of course, being the only girl in a ship full of men bring a whole set of problems, not least her growing attraction to one of her friends.

I love Jacky's voice in this book. I thought that the manner of talking would grow tiring after a while, but through a clever trick, the author manages to lessen the amount of slang, leaving enough to make the language interesting, but not so much that it gets tiring to read. I really enjoyed the first-person narration in this book, and I think it's a good example for those who want to tell their story in the voice of their protagonist.

To me, Jacky was a perfect protagonist. She's smart, she's sassy, and I particularly liked the way she told Jaimy, the ship boy she liked, that she was a girl. While there is one romance, her relationships with the rest of the boys are just friends, and I enjoyed reading about their friendship (of course, they think she's a boy, so that kind of negates the "girls can be friends with boys" thing in a way).

This story follows the first two years of Jacky's life on a ship. Yup, she goes two years without being discovered, although the way the story is told, you'll hardly notice the time going by until a character makes a reference to their ages or something like that. The plot involves pirates, ship drama, crazy inventions, and lots more. It's chock-full of things to make sure you'll never get bored. And, I didn't feel that it was too rushed, which is another point in its favour.

My only complaint about the book is that the passage of time isn't clearly marked out. I had the impression that Jacky was a 13 year old for most of the book, and was a little shocked at some of the things she did romance-wise (nothing explicit happens, but they almost go there). It was only later, when I realised she was 15, did the things she do start to sound a little more reasonable (although I do think that she's too young for some of that).

What an awesome first book. I have the second book with me right now, and I look forward to reading it!

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