The Reread Factor (3): On the Jellicoe Road

The Reread Factor

The Reread Factor is a semi-regular blog feature that is all about the reread. I pick some of my best reads from the past and reread them to see if I like it as much as as the first time and see if they could be a book for the favorites shelf. :)

Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss for our monthly discussion. When the YA theme came up, I was excited to see that my one of my favorite books last year, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, was included in the short list. Of course that got me campaigning for the book,  because when you love a certain book, you just want a lot of people to read it and hope to be enthralled by it like you were.

The book won by one vote, and I was happy because it gave me the perfect excuse to reread the book. This time around, though, I wanted to try another format, so I got myself an audiobook version of the book and settled in for the ride. :) My mind was ready, but I wasn’t really sure if my heart was. Still, I wanted to know if I would love the book as much as I did the first time around, especially since I know what was going to happen.

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
First read in April 2011

How did I describe this book last year? …reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but that was exactly what I felt back when I first read this and I was anticipating the same thing when I listened to it.

Listening to the book was a different experience, mostly because it gave me a bit of room to “read” while doing something else. The audiobook became my companion for my night shift work and at home with my neck pillow, and I was transported to that little stretch of Jellicoe Road every time I turn my player on. I found that I was paying attention to the things more, and that I caught little quotes that I wasn’t sure if I caught before (my print copy has lots of dog-ears — I didn’t exactly take note what I was dog-earing then). I found the parts I love were still well-loved, and found new things to love in the book as well.

One might think that rereading this book known for its confusing start will lessen the thrill of the reading experience because you know what’s going to happen already. I was ready to be a bit less enchanted with the twists, to be less heartbroken when the things happen as I was expecting them…but I wasn’t. Okay, perhaps it’s because I came into the book expecting to love it again, so it was harder for me to find fault. There’s one chapter that still killed me, over and over again, and there were those chapters that made me smile and stop and want to listen to them again, because I forgot about them already. Despite knowing what the story was about, the reading experience was still as enjoyable as the first.

Admittedly, there was a time when I was asked, “What’s the point of all of this again?” But then as I finished listening to the book, I realized that maybe it doesn’t really have to have a point. It’s a story of real life — of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, of Narnie and Jude and Webb and Tate and Fitz — and it doesn’t really have to make a single and simple point. Like what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, real things aren’t made to be simple. So maybe, a story about real life and all its complications isn’t supposed to be simple, either.

I can’t relate to Taylor’s family woes, but once again, I’m amazed at how the friendships were forged in this book. This is the kind of friendship that makes you want to keep on fighting, to keep on going back, to keep on trying. If you ever have the chance to run into this kind of friendship, do everything in your power to keep it — these are the kind of friendships that can save your life.

So did I like it as much as I did the first time? There is no other answer to that question but yes. Maybe I will grow out of this in a few years, maybe not. But for now, I still stand by every word I wrote last year, and I am very happy to know of a place “…where they would all belong, or long to be. A place on the Jellicoe Road.” :)

On Anniversaries and Book Discussions

My April has been pretty packed, if you noticed based on my online disappearance. It wasn’t as busy as my March was (come on, birthday months are always busy), but April had a different kind of thing. I’m actually a little bit overwhelmed when I realized that April is ending on Monday. What happened to my month.

April is a big month for me, in terms of bookish activities though. I haven’t been reading that much, or reviewing, but I assure you, I’ve been doing lots of bookish things with bookish friends. And those are the best things, right? :)

Happy second birthday, book club!

Two years ago, my book club was born. Okay, it wasn’t really — the club has been online for how many years but they only started meeting face to face on April 2010. I wasn’t a part of the book club then — I only joined the group on their second official meet up — but looking back, it almost feels like I’ve been with them from the very start.

So on April 15, we all met to celebrate our book club’s birthday.

Happy second birthday, TFG!

Continue Reading →

Where Have I Been?

There is always, always a time in the year when my reading and posting slows down, and I just…disappear from the surface of the reading and blogging world. Or, almost. I just checked my last post here, and I saw that it’s been a week ago! Gasp! Where was I?

Well, aside from the fact that it’s been a bit busy at work, I’ve just been cruising along. I’ve been a slow reader ever since last month, for some reason. I don’t want to think that this is a slump, but maybe it is, because I would sometimes rather sleep than read. Sometimes I feel so exhausted after work that I wish I could use an external power source like ls14250 to keep me reading. Or blogging. Of course, I have been reading a classic lately, so that also counts for my slowness.

But really, it’s been a slow few weeks. The Goodreads challenge widget has been mocking me since April started — as of this morning I am 9 books behind, but I have managed to trim it down to…seven. It doesn’t feel like it’s much difference, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Anyway, I know I owe a lot of reviews here, but I may have to hold that off until after this weekend since I’m moderating my first book discussion! Okay, fine, I have moderated a book discussion before but it was online and it was pretty much a fail since I was out most of the time and the discussion never took off. But since my book club started having Face to Face discussions (what we call F2F) at the start of this year, these discussions have become some of my favorite times of the month. Being moderator of the club, too, I feel like I should exert extra effort to be there, because you know, I am a moderator.

But I digress! On Saturday, I’ll be moderating my first face to face book discussion, and it’s Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I just finished reading it earlier and I must say, I am very excited to moderate the discussion. :)

Hipstamatic shot of Jane Eyre!

Hipstamatic shot of Jane Eyre!

The discussion seems to be a record-breaker in terms of attendance too, and I’m nervous and excited about that. Hee. There’s a certain thrill about meeting people and discussing books, and hearing different opinions about it and of course, agreeing to disagree. :) Who says reading is always a solitary thing?

Anyway, preparing for this will make me busy this week, but I hope I can get back to a blogging groove next week and you know, write the reviews I said I’d write. :) But right now, I just thought I’d say hello, I’m still alive. :D

And Goodreads challenge, I will conquer you soon enough!

1984

1984 by George Orwell1984 by George Orwell
Signet Classics, 298 pages

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

It’s the year 1984, and the world people live in isn’t the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world, everyone lives under close scrutiny of Big Brother — or at least representatives of Big Brother in the form of the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Here we meet Winston, a simple Party guy who is slowly realizing that maybe, there is something else other than the life he is living. Maybe the Party and Big Brother isn’t always right. Maybe, just maybe, the truth that he’s known all his life isn’t the truth at all. What follows is Winston’s “quest” to find out the real truth and perhaps even bring down Big Brother. But is Winston a big enough force to be reckoned with?

Totally honest moment: I would not have read 1984 if it wasn’t our book club’s book discussion book for January 2012. Perhaps I would have read it someday later, but not anytime soon. As much as I like dystopian novels (although not as much as I used to), I just didn’t have enough interest in this book as my other friends did. But like I said, I should read it because I’m a moderator of the book club and it feels like I should read it.

During our book discussion, we were asked to give a word to describe the book, and my chosen word was challenging. It was challenging for me not because I couldn’t grasp the story but because it took me an entire month to read the book. And it was a pretty short book too, if you think about it and I read pretty fast, so taking that long to read a certain book is really a new thing. But the truth is, I just wasn’t that invested in it. You know how there are some books that reel you right in and would make you want to lose sleep while reading it? Well, 1984 didn’t give me that impression. It’s not that I didn’t like it — I did, but I just wasn’t that invested in it to keep on reading it continuously. I think I may have read 10 books while reading this book — if that isn’t proof enough, then I don’t know already. :P

1984 is a good novel, but I feel like my reading is slightly tainted by all the similarly themed YA dystopia books I have read. You know how the main characters often prevailed, or at least almost prevailed in all the YA dystopia books? Well, it isn’t exactly the case here. I liked how the first part of the book started, but the second and third parts weren’t exactly my cup of tea. Oh sure, they were brutal, they were unexpected, but like I said, I was used to reading characters who go against all the odds and somehow win even against a TOTALLY EVIL GOVERNMENT. Perhaps it’s a YA thing, and this book was written way before the ones I know, so it has a really different approach.

The thing about 1984 though, is how it could have been real. Granted, I had myself pulled away form the narrative so much that I couldn’t imagine it being real in the current society and all, but some points during our discussion got me thinking that yeah, maybe it could be possible. Just take social networking for example — how many people can truly say they have their own privacy when they have a Facebook profile or update Twitter every minute or so? Or do we even really know how much information we put out online and how it affects us? It’s a lot to think about.

Even so, there’s a certain separation for me and 1984. Again, it’s not that I didn’t like it, but I also did not really love it as much as other people do. It’s definitely one of those books that should be read if only to get a real grasp of how a dystopian society could look like. Honestly, I don’t think a reader can be a true dystopian fan unless you have read 1984 (and Lois Lowry’s The Giver). You haven’t really seen a big bad evil government until you’ve read the classics, IMHO.

On a related note, though, I think having a real and intelligent book discussion on this book helped me understand and appreciate it more than I would have. It just goes to show that reading isn’t always a solitary activity, and it’s nice to be with like-minded people often with differing opinions to discuss a piece of literature. :)

Rating:

My copy: Kindle edition

Other reviews:
Bookish Little Me
Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac