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

Summer Bird Blue
A mixed race teen struggles to find her way back...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Starfish
A William C. Morris Award Finalist A New...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Truth Lies Here
In small town Michigan, Penny, an aspiring journalist, teams...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Looking Glass
GIRLS IN TROUBLE. That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Something of Substance
Seventeen-year-old Grace Michaels is determined to be thin, even...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Death by the River
SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET. SOME SECRETS...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Soraya: A Wielders of Arantha Prequel
On the planet Elystra, the all-female Ixtrayu tribe have...
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Scream All Night
A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Touch of Gold
King Midas once had the ability to turn all...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meet the Sky
From award-winning author McCall Hoyle comes a new young adult...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A Dog in King Arthur’s Court (Cavall in Camelot #1)
In Camelot, King Arthur’s dog encounters a world of danger...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Fray
She's been trained for battle but is she ready for...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Emergence (Kindred Ties: Book Two)
The fight for order has only just begun… Fletcher, Ariana...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
All Summer Long.jpg
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written...
 
0.0
 
4.0 (1)
They Say Blue
Caldecott and Printz Honor-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a...
 
0.0
 
4.0 (1)
Lady Knight (Crystal Journals) Book 3
Shortlisted 2018-19 "Chocolate Lily Book Award"... ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

The Truth Lies Here
 
4.0
"THE TRUTH LIES HERE by Lindsey Klingele is a young adult, sci-fi novel set in Bone Lake, Michigan. This little..."
Scream All Night
 
5.0
"I am NOT a Horror fan. I am a big scaredy cat when it comes to the genre, be it..."
Meet the Sky
 
4.3
"Meet the Sky is an ably-written, well-paced contemporary YA—one which is perhaps best described as a pleasantly stormy beach read...."
A Touch of Gold
 
4.0
"When I read the synopsis for this book I was immediately intrigued. I love retellings and this book seemed right..."
Pretty Dead Girls
 
3.0
""Pretty Dead Girls" was an interesting YA thriller following Penelope (Pen/Penny) in the aftermath of a death of a frenemy,..."
Relic
 
4.0
" “Relic” is a historical paranormal novel about Maggie, a teenaged girl who lives with her brother, sister and parents..."
All Summer Long
 
4.0
" Austin and Bina have been inseparable friends since they were in diapers. The summer going into the eighth..."
The Darkest Legacy
 
4.3
"Five years have passed since the 'rehabilitation' camps have been shut down. Suzume 'Zu' is now seventeen years old and..."
The Turnaway Girls
 
3.7
"Delphernia lives in a cloister of turnaway girls on the island of Blightsend, and she's unable to do the one..."
The Looking Glass
 
4.0
"THE LOOKING GLASS by Janet McNally is a young adult novel set in the highly competitive world of aspiring New..."
Brightly Burning
 
3.3
"An ambitious work of YA speculative fiction—a post-apocalyptic premise fused with the plot of a beloved classic. I’d like..."
Give Me Some Truth
 
4.3
"Carson Mastick and Magpie "Maggi" Bokoni are two Native American high school students living on a reservation outside of Niagara..."
House of Ash
 
5.0
"I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I absolutely devoured it from start to..."
Airports, Exes, and Other Things I'm Over
 
4.7
"'Airports, Exes, and Other Things I'm Over' by Shani Petroff captures the angst of romantic hardships and misunderstandings. When eighteen-year-old..."
The Opposite of Innocent
 
5.0
"'The Opposite of Innocent' is yet another fantastic novel-in-verse by the illustrious Sonya Sones. The story will draw readers in..."
Echo's Sister
 
5.0
"'Echo's Sister' by Paul Mosier is a realistic and heartwarming story that truly gets to the heart of the matter...."
Storm-Wake
 
3.3
"Moss has grown up on a magical island with Pa, his stories, and their dogs. The island is filled with..."
A Kiss in the Dark
 
3.3
"WHAT I LOVED: Macy is a likable, layered character and her narration flows easily. Even when my frustration mounted..."
Poe: Stories and Poems
 
5.0
"The perfect gift for any Poe fan, Gareth Hinds breathes life—and gory death—into some of the greatest works of Edgar..."
Who's That Girl
 
4.0
"I was drawn to this book because of the musical theme and it wasn’t disappointing. Who’s that girl is a..."