Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Alexa of 132 Minutes

Remember Joy of 132 Minutes from yesterday’s post? Alexa is her partner in crime in maintaining their Melina Marchetta-themed blog. I thought it would be a good idea to put up their posts close together. Here’s Alexa, sharing how she first discovered Jellicoe Road.

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Before I Read a Melina Marchetta Novel

I remember the exact day, hour, minute, second I first held a Melina Marchetta novel. The date was January 19, 2010, a Tuesday, and the time was 11:40:45 AM.

Okay, I actually don’t remember the date and time. Ha! I only know all those numbers because I’m still holding on to the library receipt. And even then I was probably browsing around the library for at least thirty minutes before I went to check-out. So I don’t remember the exact second, but I do remember picking up Jellicoe Road from the library shelf, flipping it open to read the summary (again), and hoping that I like it. Because while many people were praising it on their book blogs and Goodreads, I wasn’t sure if Jellicoe Road would be for me. I had no way of knowing that three days later this little book was going to blow my mind to the point where it felt like my life had changed.

A couple weeks prior to that moment, I stumbled upon Jellicoe Road’s Goodreads page for the first time ever. I had never heard of it or Melina Marchetta before in my life. Once I saw the rating, I became curious and wanted to know why it had such an awesome rating. Unfortunately, there were some things holding me back from giving it a chance.

First off, it was a contemporary. While I had already read a few here and there, it wasn’t a genre I went out of my way to read. Jellicoe even sounded different from other contemporaries out there. Reviews mentioned how confusing the beginning was and HarperTeen’s summary made me go ‘HUH?’ It also gave me the impression that it was going to be very serious and depressing. I enjoy a good laugh, and this book didn’t sound like it would have any humor at all! So, I figured it wouldn’t be interesting or exciting, which to me meant it had to be boring.

Not only that, I kept asking myself, “Does it have romance?” I have to admit that I prefer to read books with romance. It doesn’t have to be the focus; it just needs to be satisfying. Assuming that Jellicoe Road didn’t have romance stopped me from wanting to read it. Jellioce’s summary, however, did sort of make it seem like there would be something (“…Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all” and “…the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does”), but would it be enough for me? I really didn’t think so.

For some strange reason, though, I still found myself drawn to it. And after a book blogger I followed read and loved it, I couldn’t control my curiosity any longer and had to know what was up with the novel! Now, that didn’t mean I let my assumptions and expectations go. Right before I started reading it, I totally remember thinking, ‘It’s confusing? Pssh. It can’t be that hard to figure out. I got this!’ The prologue and first chapter set me straight real quick. (I even had to draw a chart to keep track of certain characters, which was actually pretty fun.) And I started to realize how completely wrong I was about Jellicoe Road.

As I read, Jellicoe Road continued to prove me wrong again and again. It had a perfect balance of everything. The characters were incredible. There was some intense romance and friendships and lots of hilarious moments, and all the sadness I was worried about actually captivated me. I was in complete awe. I wondered how I could ever think that I wouldn’t enjoy it! And usually when I read a book there’s always something that I wish the author had done differently; however, that wasn’t the case with Jellicoe. It was flawless to me. It made me want to read more contemporary, and also made me want to give more books a chance and not come up with lame reasons not to read them.

Jellicoe Road was hands down the best reading experience I’ve ever had. I’m forever grateful to Melina Marchetta for writing a book that impacted me and changed my reading expectations. And I have a feeling her novels will always be those books I’ll go back to whenever I need to read something inspiring and truly amazing.

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Thank you, Alexa! Like I keep saying the past few days, both Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son are my favorite Marchettas so it makes me happy that you chose to talk about one of them. Drop by 132 Minutes and check out the awesome Marchetta giveaway that they’re having.

Marchetta Madness: Guest Post from Joy of 132 Minutes

Joy is one of the ladies behind 132 Minutes, a blog dedicated to Melina Marchetta fans. If you’re a true Marchetta fan, you’d get the name of the blog. 😛 Go check it out and follow them on Twitter. They’re currently having an awesome giveaway of six Melina Marchetta novels. Today is all about Marchetta’s fantasy novels as Joy talks about Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock. Heads up, this post contains spoilers so avert your eyes if you haven’t read the book yet (go grab a copy and read that instead).

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Evanjalin of the Monts

“Do not underestimate this girl,” the priest-king said quietly.

Finnikin gave a humorless laugh. “I am with the King’s First Man, the captain of the King’s Guard, and the priest-king of Lumatere. The most powerful men in our kingdom, apart from the King himself. All brought together by her. At what point have I led you to believe that I have underestimated her?”

Chapter 10, Finnikin of the Rock, exiles and fever camp in Sorel.

Evanjalin was a woman with a purpose. Driven by an incredible desire to save her people, the ways and means with which she achieved what she’d set out to do was rife with well-meaning deceit and hardhearted determination. She was a conniving, lying, thieving and in some instances, vindictive heroine who used her smarts and courage to free her people. She wasn’t the type who wilted under the patronizing opinions of the men that surrounded her and the type who’d never hesitate to maim or even kill to exact justice. She’s a superhero(ine) in every sense of the word; a woman possessed and obsessed with seeing Lumaterans back where they belong. And for every lie, every scheme, every single act of calculated bravery, this woman imparted a piece of her soul and heart that truly embodied a strong female lead who would remain my standard of measure for every book that graces my bookshelves.

Without giving too much of the story away, here are some of Evanjalin’s gambits of trickeries that eventually led to her people’s freedom and secured Lumaterans of their rightful royals. These are only the ones that in my opinion were catalysts to the story and to the series.

1. Evanjalin convinced the Sorel authorities to arrest Finnikin, imprisoning him in the mines where he would be in the mercy of a savage prisoner, named Trevanion.
2. When Finnikin escaped, she then tricked him into saving the thief of Sarnak from the hands of the Sorel traders who bought and sold humans as slaves. The same thief who stole from her, spat at their faces every chance he got, and tried to rape her.
3. She convinced everyone that she only walk the sleep when she bled. They didn’t know that more often than not, she “made” herself bleed.

I have read Finnikin of the Rock at least half a dozen times; and each time, I’m left feeling too much and breathless by the beautiful, visceral writing. The heart-wrenching stories of the people of Lumatere never fail to bring on bouts of choked sobs and seemingly ceaseless tears. But trust me when I say the bliss at the end of the story was well worth it.

I’m glad I got to be a part of Marchetta Madness here at Chachic’s blog. For lack of a better word, I’ve been pimping Ms. Marchetta’s books any chance I get. Her books are something that needed to be shared – for the incredible writing, for the soul-searching stories and the wonderful characters that everyone should know.

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Thank you, Joy! Me too, I’ve been pimping MM’s books, trying to encourage everyone to read them. I’d be thrilled of Marchetta Madness manages to convince more readers to pick up MM’s novels.

Check out these Marchetta Madness posts in other blogs:
Aaron wrote about The Duality of a Narrative (with Jellicoe Road as a jump off point) over at Guy Gone Geek
Alex wrote a review for Looking for Alibrandi, the movie over at A Girl, a Book and Other Things