Friday, April 1, 2011
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
This had been recommended to me by a colleague, and I actually didn't like it all that much at first. When things got going on board the ship though, I got more into it and ended up really enjoying it. Mary was an engaging, multidimensional character. She's smart and resourceful, but still makes plenty of mistakes and gets herself into unfortunate situations which she has to get herself out of again.
There are oh so many books of girls dressing up in boy's clothing, for various reasons. There was something I liked a lot about Mary that felt different. While she really liked her time as a ship's boy, she never wanted to be a boy. So often, when you've got girls dressed as boys, there's this longing "Oh if only I really was a boy, how happy I would be! How much easier everything would be! How lucky boys are that they're boys." Mary didn't want to be a boy. She was dressed as one purely out of necessity. When she gets to wear a dress again, she's overjoyed with how comfortable it is. How nice not to have to bind up her chest, and to walk the way that felt natural and not all uptight. Whenever she thinks of her future, she's always a girl. Mary delights in being a girl. Being a boy was hard and caused anxiety. She's a girl, and despite her hard life, she wants to remain a girl.
As I read this, I found I was visualizing the ship's boys way younger than they really were. When Mary/Jacky talked, I was picturing a ten-year old. So when the romance part came in, it was weird. And then when they actually mentioned her age, which they guessed to be around 15, I was surprised. I don't know why I was thinking of them so young, but I did through the whole book, all evidence aside.
The romance aspect was nice, what with Jaimy developing feelings toward Jacky before he knows she's a girl, and then freaking out because he thinks he's a sodomite. They seem to genuinely care for each other, and after Mary is put off the ship in Boston to attend Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls, he promises to return for her. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, so I don't know if he keeps his word or not.
A good start to the series. Action, adventure, cross-dressing and romance! Recommended!