Review Detail

Bloody Awesome
(Updated: November 06, 2017)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
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. >.>
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

Comments

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

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Twin
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were...
Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
It's 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight...
The Life Below
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a...
Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets (Mr Penguin #2)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Mr. Penguin―Adventurer (And Penguin!) When Mr. Penguin...
Famous by Default
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Jax Buried, By my family's fame. Dying to escape...
Sword and Pen (Great Library Book, #5)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
With the future of the Great Library in doubt,...
Butterfly Yellow
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and...
Jonny Lambert's Construction Site
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A beautifully illustrated book for babies featuring lots of noisy...
Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Animals
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Take your toddler on a rain forest adventure and find...
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s...
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke...
Gray (The Wings Trilogy, #3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The long anticipated finale to the Wings Trilogy. ...
Black (The Wings Trilogy, #2)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
"I was the weak link in the chain, and the...
Two Worlds of Redemption (Two Worlds, #3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Finally presented to the Allinan public, Maray’s life at court...
Two Worlds of Oblivion (Two Worlds, #2)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The blood that holds the power to change the fate...
Two Worlds of Provenance (Two Worlds, #1)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Her fate lies just one world away… ...

Latest Member Reviews

Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
"Sarah Goldstein, alias Ursulla Haller, is living right under Nazi rule in 1940 Germany. She's the Shirley Temple of the..."
The Life Below
 
4.0
"Naomi can't help but wonder if there was an ulterior motive behind the decision to kick Leo out of the..."
The Stars We Steal
 
3.7
"Jane Austen in space….yes please! The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a futuristic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion...."
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
 
4.0
" The story: After living in foster care since the death of her mother, Edie finally..."
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Kira Fujikawa loves helping at her family shrine. She also has a paranormal ability. She sees the not only..."
The Shadows Between Us
 
5.0
"THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US is the highly devourable YA fantasy I have been searching for! This is an enthralling story..."
 
3.3
"The Betrothed is a brand new YA-novel set in the 15th century by Kiera Cass, whom we all know from..."
Remember Me
 
4.0
"‘First rule of storytelling,’ he says, a glint in his eyes.’ Everything is possible.’ Nell is..."
Lobizona
 
5.0
"Sixteen-year-old Manuela, 'Manu' is in hiding from her father's Argentinian crime family. She also runs the risk of being deported..."
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
 
4.7
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A book that should be on every teen's shelf. ..."
Serious Moonlight
 
5.0
"Birdie and Daniel has the most awkward first encounter. So when Birdie started her job in a historic hotel, she..."
Long Way Down
 
5.0
"I feel like I've been asleep for the last 31 years and I just woke up. I am woke. ..."
The Opposite of Always
 
5.0
"Opposite of Always is a heartfelt and stunning debut; that is worthy of all praise. I am in love..."
Tyler Johnson Was Here
 
5.0
"Tyler Johnson Was Here--did not come to be politically correct, or racially ambiguous. Tyler Johnson came to tell an ugly..."
We Are Not Free
 
5.0
"Fourteen friends who grew up together in Japantown, San Francisco find themselves and their families sent off to incarceration camps..."
The Way You Make Me Feel
 
3.7
"Clara Shin is the class clown and definitely qualifies as a troll too. (Big difference between the two, I'm not..."
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
"Recently recognized as a National Book Award finalist and a Stonewall Honor book, Pet is also Akwaeke Emezi’s YA debut..."
Brown Girl Ghosted
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Violet Choudhury has a huge secret. During the day she's part of her Midwestern town's cheer squad and at..."
Daughter of Chaos (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, #2)
 
5.0
"DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is another delightful spin-off book from the Netflix version of Sabrina. This one takes place between Parts..."
The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret, #1)
 
3.3
"THE QUEEN'S ASSASSIN is a YA fantasy romance that would appeal to younger YA readers. The book follows Shadow and..."