Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta [Audiobook]

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta [Audiobook]

Genre:Contemporary > Social Issues
Age Group:13+
Release Date: 2006
Form: Audiobook on CDs
Source: Local Library
ISBN: 9780670070299



Cover love? The cover is of an artistic road, with figures in both the background and foreground. But, the road is not what I imagine the Jellicoe Road to be. However, I love the layout, contrasts and tone - the cover makes a beautiful artwork.

"What do you want from me?" he asks. 

What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. 


Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she's lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that's her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence. 

But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road. - from Melina Marchetta's site.

I actually listened to an audiobook version of On the Jellicoe Road, lovingly borrowed from the local library, of course.

The narrator was Rebecca Macauley, and I believe that she is one of the best audiobook narrators out there. When you're listening to an audiobook, the believability and skill of the narrator is of paramount importance. No matter how good the book is, the person narrating it can alter the listener's entire perspective of the book.

For example, The Hunger Games is without question, one of the greatest books I have ever read. One of the reasons is due to the relatability of Katniss' voice. When I'm reading Suzanne Collins' words, I feel as if I am hearing Katniss. But when I heard the audiobook version, I felt that the narrator's voice didn't suit what I imagined Katniss to sound like. I couldn't relate to it, and so I stopped listening.

But with Macauley's reading, I felt that the Australian setting, the characters, and the moving story came through in her voice. It didn't feel like someone was reading a book to me; it felt as if Taylor Markham and Nanie were telling me their story. Macauley's voice captures the essence of On The Jellicoe Road in an authentic way that draws the listener right into the story.

The story alternates between the life of Taylor Markham, and the story of a group of friends in the eighties. Thus, the story is at times broken and a little confusing, but the end result is two complex, immersive storeis that join together to form one.

The characters and setting are distinguishably Australian. They feel natural to me - perfect characters in that they are imperfect people. The characterisation here is also beautiful - they each have thier individual voices, style and personality. There's never any confusion between the characters, despite their number. I loved each and every one of them - Taylor, Jonah Greggs, Raffy, Santangelo, Jessa, Nanie, Tate, Fitz, Jude, Web.

My one concern is that to me, Taylor felt a lot like Josephine Alibrandi from Looking For Alibrandi. Their personalities were very similar, and it felt like the same character in two different stories. They were both rebellious, confused, loyal, loving, Australian teens. They both faced some form of social issue, despite the two books being vastly different within the same genre.

Melina Marchetta's writing style is very characteristic in that sense, but it always speaks of truth, pain and love, and her use of words and dialogue propels the story forward, and paints the scene in the recipient's mind.

A story of discovering the truth, finding love, and making friends along the way.