“Jellicoe Road” by Melina Marchetta #printzproject

Jellicoe Road Book Cover Jellicoe Road
Melina Marchetta
Abandoned children
Harper Collins

Michael L Printz Award Winner 2009

I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Not that anyone’s wondering, but I have continued to read, even though I pretty much completely stopped posting. I’ll be honest: I got completely bogged down by a book, and let it derail me. I’ve also been reading some other stuff.

(My arbitrary reading goal for 2015 is 100 books. I’m at 93 and it’s just the end of September….)

This book, “Jellicoe Road” — I had a hard time with this one to start. I did NOT get the appeal until I was about halfway through and then I couldn’t put it down. It was about that point that I realized that the ebook edition I was reading was lacking in formatting or notation that would have made things make a lot more sense. The book switches between different narrators, from different time periods, and there was absolutely NO delineation. I believe that in the print versions, the text was set in different typeface (or italics, or something?) — what a difference that would have made!

It’s been almost 2 months since I actually read this, and I see that when I marked it in Goodreads, I only gave it 3 stars. In the time since, I guess I have reimagined what I thought of it, because I was sure I had rated it higher.

So here’s the struggle with having waited so long to write about this book: I’m not sure what to say! It was good, it was award-worthy, and if you do read it, make sure you read it on paper, so that you aren’t completely confused for half the book about what’s going on!

“Nation” by Terry Pratchett

Nation Book Cover Nation
Terry Pratchett
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins
ebook and audiobook
Oyster and owned

2009 Michael L Printz Honor Book

The sea has taken everything. Mau is the only one left after a giant wave sweeps his island village away. But when much is taken, something is returned, and somewhere in the jungle Daphne—a girl from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the same wave. Together the two confront the aftermath of catastrophe. Drawn by the smoke of Mau and Daphne's sheltering fire, other refugees slowly arrive: children without parents, mothers without babies, husbands without wives—all of them hungry and all of them frightened. As Mau and Daphne struggle to keep the small band safe and fed, they defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down. . . . Internationally revered storyteller Terry Pratchett presents a breathtaking adventure of survival and discovery, and of the courage required to forge new beliefs.

This was a reread for me — I had listened to the audiobook version read by Stephen Briggs in 2013. I started listening to the audiobook again, but then decided to switch to the ebook. Pratchett is an author that I find I enjoy best when I listen to someone read it to me — I can’t skim, and have to listen to every word, which, with Pratchett is important. (When I switched to reading it, I did try to be conscious of slowing down my normal pace…)

It’s a little hard for me to separate what I think of this specific book from my feelings about Pratchett’s work as a whole — he’s one of my favorite authors, so he has to really mess up for me to be disappointed. This book did not disappoint. I hope the fact that this one is categorized as “YA” or “teen” doesn’t leave it off of adult’s reading lists, because it would be foolish to dismiss it for that reason. (To be honest, dismissing a book because it’s marketed as YA is just plain dumb, no matter the book, but that’s a different argument.)

I really love this story and what it has to say about death and civilization and friendship and science and magic.

I love Pratchett’s humor and wordplay. I have a few of his books that I haven’t read yet, and I’m not in any hurry to read them, because when I finish reading the final book, there won’t be anymore Pratchett books.

The super exciting 2008 Printz winner’s summary post

Am I overselling it with that post title? Possibly.

This was another eclectic year for honored books. Two were underwhelming to me (One Whole and Perfect Day and Reposessed). Another was a delightful and unusual book of poetry (which reminds me, I still haven’t read any Sylvia Plath. Too many books, not enough time….). Dreamquake was not as good as the first book in the duology, but I still enjoyed it — but caution that you do need to read both, you can’t just jump in to the second, award-winning book.

This year’s winner, The White Darkness, was a strange and uncomfortable read. I’m not sure I would have picked it up, based on the description, but I’m glad I got the chance to read it. I think that’s why we need passionate librarians, who can get to know their patrons and encourage them to read interesting books that they might not choose on their own.

“Repossessed” by A.M. Jenkins

Repossessed Book Cover Repossessed
A. M. Jenkins
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins

2008 Michael L Printz Honor Book

Don't call me a demon. I prefer the term Fallen Angel.

Everybody deserves a vacation, right? Especially if you have a pointless job like tormenting the damned. So who could blame me for blowing off my duties and taking a small, unauthorized break?

Besides, I've always wanted to see what physical existence is like. That's why I "borrowed" the slightly used body of a slacker teen. Believe me, he wasn't going to be using it anymore anyway.

I have never understood why humans do the things they do. Like sin--if it's so terrible, why do they keep doing it?

I'm going to have a lot of fun finding out!

This was? OK? I guess? The idea was interesting, a demon possessing a teenaged boy, and experiencing life on Earth through his body, but the execution was a little underwhelming for me. I guess I wanted there to be more to it, more plot, more exploration, just…more…

It also took a preachy turn to it towards the end that I thought was a little too in your face, message-wise.

This is ridiculously short, but the more time I spend agonizing about what to say about a book that clear the threshold of awesome for me is less time I can spend reading….

“The White Darkness” by Geraldine McCaughrean

The White Darkness Book Cover The White Darkness
Geraldine McCaughrean
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins

2008 Michael L Printz Award Winner

I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now—which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and the age difference won't matter. Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears. But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed—and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves. In her first contemporary young adult novel, Carnegie Medalist and three-time Whitbread Award winner Geraldine McCaughrean delivers a spellbinding journey into the frozen heart of darkness.

This was….a strange and intense book. Having gone on my own little adventure a few years ago, on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, I find reading about other adventurers to be very captivating. Not that my adventure in any way compares to what Symone, the main character in this book, experiences when she goes on a “vacation” to Antarctica.

From the start, you suspect that something is off, and the whole book is one big descent into madness. I found myself unable to look away as everything horrible happened, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, and in ways I didn’t expect.

This is another one of those books that won’t be up your alley if you don’t like unreliable narrators, or need happy endings for your books.