Title: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy
Series: Bloody Jack, #1
Author: L.A. Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 10th, 2010
Length: 304 pages | 7 hour 26 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.
There’s only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life–if only she doesn’t get caught…
This was such a fun read. I expected it to be a bit more tongue-in-cheek and less serious (along the vein of The Accidental Highwayman), but the occasional moments of true danger and true sorrow added to the power of the narrative. This book is in the nature of others I’ve read before it, and as well done: Plucky main character is able to narrowly avoid scrapes through their wits and some excellent timing, while remaining approachable and realistically flawed.
The narrative starts with Mary/Jack being only 10 years old or so, but the themes handled as it goes on are more YA than MG. Mary’s voice is refreshingly honest (especially about herself) and she’s got uncommon good sense, which makes her likable and better at surviving her situation than I would be. Her attitude buoys some of the darker situations in the narrative, so that even when horrible things are happening the story doesn’t feel “down”. There’s also a lot of improbable events, but it feels in line with the fantastical adventure tone of the story.
My one complaint about the book is how abrupt the ending was. When I listened to it I didn’t realize this was a series at all, and the ending shocked the hell out of me. Now that I know there’s several follow-up books (and I *will* be reading the second one, at least), the blow is softened but it still feels like there could have been a bit more of a tying up of loose ends, instead of ending in the middle of an emotional goodbye scene.
I listened to this on audiobook and I highly recommend, if you want to read it, that you do the same. The narrator’s accent was perfect, and really made me feel immersed in the story. In all, I recommend this for people who like swashbuckling adventure stories, especially ones with female MCs.