Stephanie Bradt: While looking for a good book to read at the library, Jordan pointed out the BLOODY JACK series by L. A. Meyer. I grudgingly checked out the first book and now I am happily six books into the series. The books are not perfect, but thanks to them, I now have a newfound love of historical fiction.
The first book in the series (of nine books and counting) is entitled BLOODY JACK. (Imagine that). So far, this book and the third in the series, UNDER THE JOLLY ROGER, are my favorites. I found a couple of the other books to lack a point and drift and be too long. That is not to say they were not entertaining; they just would make more sense as, say, 37 separate short stories. I have a lot to say about each of the books, but this single book review will have to suffice for now.
BLOODY JACK opens in 1802-ish London, a London that is reminiscent of the William Blake poems I had to read in my British Literature class. (Side note: William Blake is quoted in one of the books, which made me kind of happy). Anyway, the London of Mary “Jacky” Faber is one of poverty and turmoil. When the story opens, little Mary, our narrator, is newly orphaned and she describes (in her slightly-annoying-until-you-get-used-to-it Cockney accent) her parents’ and little sister’s death from “the pestilence.” On the run from the creepy/evil/body-snatching/grave-robbing Cornelius Muck, Mary takes refuge in Rooster Charlie’s street gang, a group kids who stick together (and steal together) on the streets of London. When Mary is 12-ish, Rooster Charlie dies and Mary is once again unprotected. She is hungry and so she does what every hungry person does: she dresses in the dead kid’s clothes, masquerades as a boy, and gets a gig on a random ship. All of a sudden, Mary, now under the alias of “Jacky,” is a ship’s boy in the Royal Navy.
And so begin the many misadventures of the “impetuous” Jacky Faber. I do not think I ever realized how much I love pirate-y things. And these books have just increased my interest in the time period and sea-faring life in general. I kind of envy Jacky’s life. Except her psychotic-ness:
Although I find these books highly entertaining, witty, informative, and comical, I must confess that the main character kind of annoys the crap out of me. I like most of the characters better than her, actually. Jacky is a royal pain. Here is the thing: these books are surprisingly risqué for Young Adult books and okay, that is probably a big part of why I love them, but Jacky is slutty. Well, sort of. I will not get too into it, so as not to ruin these wonderful books for everyone, but the bottom line is this: Jacky thinks she is sooo hot and loves to throw herself at guys, but NEWS FLASH, Jacky: you are the ONLY female on the ship. Of course a bunch of horny sailors who haven’t seen a woman in two years are going to go after you.
All in all, I recommend these books. Hey, even L.A. Meyer agrees with my analysis on Jacky's "love life" in an interview with his audiobook reader, Katherine Kellgren.
This book's featured side in Jacky’s love dodecagon: James Emerson "Jaimy" Fletcher
My favorite new character: Liam Delaney
Jordan Bradt: Years ago, probably back in 2002 or 2003, I was at Borders in the Carousel Mall in Syracuse, browsing young adult novels. I have always loved historical fiction, so one novel in particular stood out to me: BLOODY JACK by L. A. Meyer. Ladies and Gentlemen who choose to read this blog, the following is going to discuss a GOOD book. BLOODY JACK is still, to this day, one of my favorite books, and one of the few I will reread more than once.
Mary Faber is an orphan living in 19th century London on the streets. She falls in with a gang of hoodlums. Yes, I just said hoodlums, haha. She stays with them for a while, but decides to dress as a boy, call herself Jacky, and see if she can find work on a ship. She is hired as a ship’s boy on the H. M. S. Dolphin. Yes, she continues her charade as a boy, but this is more than a story about girl being boy. For one thing, I never knew so much about ships, and the information was fun to learn. For another thing, I have a sweet spot in my heart for romance, so I was thrilled that Mary fell in love with Jaimy, another ship’s boy. Then, there are pirates, so you know there has to be action and treasure.
L. A. Meyer (who I thought was female until I read a later book in the series) is an excellent author. He weaves realistic dialogue amongst loveable characters. By the end of the novel, I felt like Jacky was my friend. Sometimes he doesn’t describe characters too well (I’m still not sure what Jaimy really looks like), but you can always use your imagination to fill in those blanks. My favorite part of the book is the cockney accent L. A. Meyer incorporates into Jacky. It makes me want to go around talking like that. If I were back in elementary school, I would dress up as Jacky for Halloween. That’s how much I love this book. Hmm, now I need to go find a fashion designer to help me with that.