Mary Faber has been through a lot. First, when only 7 or 8 years old, her parents died of the plague in late 18th century London. Then as an orphan she joins a gang to survive but when the gang leader is killed she takes on the identity of a boy and goes to sea on a ship. There she distinguishes herself (himself, as her mates thought of her) and earns the moniker Bloody Jack. But then after battles with pirates and countless near death experiences and escapes she ends up back in a city, but this time in Boston, about to go to boarding school, in love with her sweetheart Jaime, and seemingly, finally about to live a normal life again. That was book one in the series, Bloody Jack, first published in 2002. Since then she has been through one adventure after another on both sea and land moving through some of history’s greatest events. After nine previous books, is there really any where else to take Jacky?
Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away (Bloody Jack #10)
By L.A. Meyer
Harcourt Children’s Books
In book ten, Jacky Faber picks up right where Mark of the Golden Dragon left off. She sails her ship through history once again, this time through the Napoleonic Wars as a privateer and spy for the British, through mainland Spain and Portugal, gets caught up in the Inquisition, visits Gypsies and other historical characters. She gets herself in trouble then cleverly gets herself out of trouble. Again and again.
The series takes a time proven character type, Pippi Longstockings meets Tintin, using proven adventure series plot and adds humor and a little bit of flirting. And as much as I love certain characters it seems like after a decade of reading this series something more drastic has to change in order to move this character and the books forward. How many books will we have with very similar plots, adventures, and escapes (but with different names, settings) before we start to feel like we’ve been here before?
Long time fans of Jacky Faber will love this book – having grown up with her – but not in the cant-wait-to-visit-her-again sense. More like the reminiscing-about-my-past and I-remember-I-used-to-love-these-books ways. This is a children’s book series that has moved clearly in to the young adult realm (Jacky is now 17). But readers who started in their teens reading Jacky find themselves in the odd situation of being older than she is now that ten real world years have passed.
The book is well written, enjoyable escapism for teens. But nothing more. Meyer is – for me – the Clive Cussler of young adult – teen series’.
To sum up: fans will enjoy the book for nostalgia’s sake. New young readers will enjoy the book for the adventure and humor. But everyone else? We’ve been here before. Maybe too often.
Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.