Review Detail

(Updated: November 06, 2017)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Bloody Awesome

This first-person present-tense piece of historical YA fiction begins a bit like a Charles Dicken’s work—eighteenth-century London, poor destitute orphan, cruel world. But from there, things get a lot more interesting…

Mary Faber came from a good family, but that didn’t spare her their loss to rampant illness at the tender age of 8. She’s quickly forced to navigate the unforgiving streets as an urchin—living with a gang of other children, stealing when she must, and sometimes earning spare coin using the rare fact that she happens to be literate. She lives like this for 4-5 years (age becomes a bit nebulous when she has no way of keeping track,) when tragedy strikes again and it becomes clear she must do something drastic or become prey to a ruthless body-hocker.

Her solution? Hack off her hair and pass herself off as a ship’s boy.

And thus, “Jacky” Faber is christened and put out to sea.
All of the difficulties of hiding one’s sex are examined and explanations satisfied right off the bat. And as Jacky hits puberty, her changing body becomes an ongoing challenge—which she works around with ingenuity and a hefty dose of cunning.

The jabs taken at cultural gender assumptions and biases manage to be charming rather than contrived, as they are coming from a young girl who is logically examining her options from a purely pragmatic standpoint. Her belief that she is dying when her menstrual cycle starts is somehow wrenchingly sad and hysterical in the same turn. And her pointed wonderings about why a woman’s virtue would be so prized and protected, and yet they be expected to wear impractical garments with easy bottom-up access may leave many readers wanting to reach across time and give our heroine a high-five.

I’ll admit up front, this book hit on one of my pet tropes: Female posing as a young male in order to escape a bad situation, find work, and protect herself from sexual exploitation. (Part of my fascination may have something to do with having a tenuous grasp on my own gender identity. I’m not certain. >.>) What IS certain is that the construct requires a lot of gall and guile. Two traits I hold in the highest regard.

My only complaints would be in the difficulty of Jacky’s dialect—which does resolve somewhat once she’s on the ship and better linguistics is expected of her. And the conundrum of Jacky’s actual age. When she initially sets her sights on a romantic interest, I was still running with the guess that she was just 14 (which I understand wouldn’t be as inappropriate an age in the time period, but still felt a bit discomfiting.) But at the very end you finally get the estimate of her being at least 15 years old. Which arbitrarily made me feel a tiny bit better about her eagerness to marry. >.>

Content Note: While the subject matter is sometimes suggestive, and there is a tense and somewhat disturbing scene involving a pedophilic crew-member, the handling is consistently thoughtful and laced with a crude tact—which comes off perfectly believable given “Jacky” is so inexperienced. I wouldn’t hesitate to hand this to kids 13 and up. (Overall a mature MG to solid YA feel.)

Final analysis? Snappily paced, skillfully written, and deeply entertaining. Bloody Jack kicks some serious pirate booty.
I’m not even sorry. >.>

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Quinton Wyatt's summer break before high school should be nothing...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
On Delicate Wings
Mia Walters is optimistic that her final high school...
 
4.8
 
0.0 (0)
Only A Breath Apart
Bestselling author Katie McGarry’s trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The world is quite the different place after the loss...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
Pretty in Punxsutawney
A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from...
 
5.0
 
4.7 (1)
Through Fathoms Dark and Deep
What’s a pirate without her crew? Abandoned on an...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
99 Lies (100 Hours, #2)
Getting kidnapped over spring break was definitely memorable. But...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Ray Vs the Meaning of Life
Grandma’s Last Will and Testament names Ray to inherit...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
51uDXTa8hxL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Celebrate the weird, wonderful, and the downright bizarre in this...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Next to Last Mistake
Tess Goodwin's life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Emerge: The Captive: (Book 3)
A moment of distraction has cost him his freedom...
 
5.0
 
5.0 (1)
Awakening of Fire (Dragon Born, #1)
Dragons are just legends from the past... Felicia’s life...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Penderwicks at Last
The finale you've all been waiting for: The Penderwicks...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Over Raging Tides
The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Positively Izzy
Award-winning comics creator and author of the bestselling Invisible...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Onyx and Ivory
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
 
4.0
""Forest of a Thousand Lanterns" was a slow-building and dark YA fantasy. Xifeng has been raised by her cruel aunt..."
The Next to Last Mistake
 
5.0
"'The Next to Last Mistake' by Amalie Jahn will have readers considering their own lives through a bittersweet lens as..."
Pretty in Punxsutawney
 
4.7
"Thank you to Blink and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for my honest review. As..."
Pretty in Punxsutawney
 
5.0
"Andie moves to Punxsutawney P.A. before the beginning of her senior year. When she falls asleep watching 'Pretty in Pink',..."
Rogue (Talon #2)
 
4.3
"More dragons, what more could you want? Julie has done it again, not only has she written another fantastic..."
The Dysasters
 
3.7
"THE DYSASTERS opens up with Foster and her stepmom Cora on the run and have been for a full year...."
You'd Be Mine
 
4.0
""You'd Be Mine" follows two young country music stars on their path to self-discovery, dealing with past family deaths, and..."
You'd Be Mine
 
4.0
"YOU’D BE MINE by Erin Hahn is a YA contemporary romance set in the confines of country music, road life,..."
99 Lies (100 Hours, #2)
 
4.3
"99 lies pick up exactly where the last book left off, post-kidnapping—at least for most of them. Genesis and Holden..."
Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss
 
4.0
"When Lacey scores a leading role in a zombie movie, she wants to give it her all. However, she struggles..."
Stolen Time
 
3.0
"STOLEN TIME by Danielle Rollins is the first book of a YA time travel trilogy. It begins when Ash, a..."
Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3)
 
4.0
""Their Fractured Light" is a satisfying conclusion to the Starbound trilogy. Each book has followed a different couple along a..."
Only A Breath Apart
 
4.0
"ONLY A BREATH APART alternates POV between Jesse and Scarlett. The two of them used to be best friends as..."
Give The Dark My Love
 
5.0
""Give the Dark My Love" is a dark but engaging YA fantasy. Told in alternating perspectives, we follow two characters-..."
Give The Dark My Love
 
5.0
"Seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her small village to study medicinal alchemy at the famous Yugen Academy. She wants to be..."
A Sky for Us Alone
 
3.3
"A SKY FOR US ALONE by Kristin Russell is a YA coming-of-age novel filled with mystery and heartache. It’s set..."
The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary
 
4.0
"The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary is as disturbing as its name implies. While, in an effort to not trivialize or..."
Easy Prey
 
3.3
"Easy prey’s story is directly relevant to its title. It tells the story of how when you prey on others,..."
Love, Life, and the List
 
4.3
"Abby's goal in life is to become a serious artist. Her hope is to get into a special art camp...."
The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction
 
3.0
"It's 1984 and Laura Ratliff is a high school student with issues beyond a typical sixteen-year-old. Her mom and her..."