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

Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
From psychologist and children's friendships expert Eileen Kennedy-Moore and parenting...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sword and Scion 01: Into the Dark Mountains
How lost one feels when his own character remains a...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Pirates of Brisa (Wyrms of Pasandir #2)
When young Eskandar leaves his ship with the tough broomrider...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Building a Trade Empire (Wyrms of Pasandir #4)
Trade had been Shaw’s life, her dream, her future –...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Journeys: Young Readers’ Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives
Books can change lives — and here are more than...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals
In The Moonlight Meeting, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, Bismark, a...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Hidden Kingdom: The Nocturnals Book 4
A group of veiled creatures--a chameleon, stick bugs and assorted...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Sight of Stars
Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Bokkaners of the North (Wyrms of Pasandir #3)
Against all odds, Eskandar and his bunch of ragtag youngsters...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Road to Kalbakar (Wyrms of Pasandir #1)
Seventeen-year-old...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Air and Ash (TIDES Book 1)
Master and Commander meets Sarah J Maas in a...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Wolf Hour
Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza. It's an...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Dragon Orb
The fate of a kingdom rests on the shoulders...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fragile Chaos
A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION. AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)
Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Nice Try, Jane Sinner
The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
 
4.0
"Utilizing plain language and a kid-friendly presentation, Growing Friendships examines and addresses a wide range of socially detrimental issues such..."
Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles #1)
 
4.8
"Writing: 4.5 Story: 5 Character Development: 4.5 Cover: 5 Editing: 4.5 This book is a rare gem. You know,..."
Joshua and the Magical Forest
 
4.0
"Reviewed for YA Books Central An enchanting fantasy. The story: Joshua thinks his father is dead. He's been..."
Ghosts of Bliss Bayou
 
5.0
"Captivating story, smooth writing style, well executed."
Uglies (Uglies #1)
 
5.0
"I loved how different this book was to most that I have read. The plot and the story line are..."
Legacy (The Biodome Chronicles #1)
 
5.0
"I went into this book with a pretty vague idea of what it was about-a sci-fi novel revolving around a..."
Wicked (A Wicked Saga #1)
 
5.0
"I read a TON of fae fiction and A WICKED TRILOGY by Jennifer L. Armentrout is so hilarious and refershing...."
Elements (The Biodome Chronicles #2)
 
5.0
"Where do I begin?! I love Legacy. I was immediately sucked into the world and characters and was more than..."
Moonburner
 
4.7
" "The moon cannot enslave the sun, nor make the day its mistress." I absolutely loved this dark yet..."
An Enchantment of Ravens
 
4.7
" This is one of the most beautifully written books I've read in a long, long while. I found myself..."
Bloodline (Forgotten Origins Trilogy #1)
 
4.8
"INFECTED began with a viral pandemic which turns the human body and mind into a host. Although I enjoyed the..."
The "Wonderful" Wizard of Futhermucking Oz
 
5.0
"Although highly irreverent throughout, what I loved most about Arabella is that she doesn't just go along with the social..."
The Secrets of Islayne
 
4.3
"The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West 4 out of 5 stars Summary Islayne is a..."
Journeys: Young Readers’ Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives
 
5.0
"Journeys is a collection of letters from the “Letters About Literature” program sponsored by the Library of Congress Center for..."
The Moonlight Meeting: The Nocturnals
 
3.0
"In this "Grow and Read" level two early reader book, the characters from Nocturnals World meet each other. Bismark is..."
The Hidden Kingdom: The Nocturnals Book 4
 
3.0
"Dawn, a fox; Tobin, a pangolin; and Bismark, an energetic sugar glider are all friends who have adventures. When there..."
Ignite
 
3.5
"The story: Phoenyx Blake, a teenage girl, awakens in a locked dungeon with only a girl named Lily for..."
In Sight of Stars
 
5.0
"IN SIGHT OF STARS is Gae Polisner’s latest young adult novel. It’s a contemporary story that tackles mental health in..."
First Year (The Black Mage Book 1)
 
4.0
"This is a very good series introduction. From the critical side, my first impression was that Rachel Carter broke..."
Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)
 
4.0
"I am in love! The DC Icon series is turning me into a fan of superheroes, and Marie Lu's take..."