Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer (review)

Title: Bloody Jack
Author: L. A. Meyer
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 290
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: YA F Mey
ISBN: 978-0-15-205085-6
Cost: $7.95

This book is Harry Potter meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

No, there's no magic involved, but the main character shuffles off to the new world of seamanship aboard the HMS Dolphin (circa 1790s-1810s). The main character is Mary Faber, a street urchin, that joins the crew as a ship's boy. Yes, she pretends to be a boy. And while at times the book is light-hearted like Hook, at other times it gets a bit detailed like the Slums of Beverly Hills. There are some things I just don't want to read about but Meyer does an excellent job of presenting it in a way that won't make you cringe too much.

The plot revolves around Mary, aka Jacky, aka Bloody Jack, and her hiding herself among a crew of men. A large crew of men that include some good and some evil. Best of all is the language. Mary's "voice" is very much like a London street waif when you start reading but gradually progresses to a more learned ship's boy over time. And of course her ability to disguise herself as a boy becomes harder as she reaches puberty.

This book is clearly not for younger children as it discusses puberty and has some various sexual references. But it isn't graphic enough to make it an "adult" title either. I'd put it in the hands of a middle school kid with no qualms.

There were a few points during the book that felt a bit outlandish, but again, Meyer presents them in a manner that keeps you reading and not focused on the amount of sheer luck needed to actually do what happened in the book.

A story of teenage love, pirate hunting, and sailing ships, this book is an easy read and very entertaining. I'd recommend it and will likely try to pick up the rest of the series from the library when I can.

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