Jellicoe Road

Hello, World!

This week, I read Melina Marchetta’s YA novel, Jellicoe Road, also known as On the Jellicoe Road in countries outside of the USA. It follows two very different stories that come together at the end to create a beautifully devastating full circle.

The main one of the two is about Taylor Markham, a girl who is abandoned by her mother and attends a boarding school where she leads one of the parties in territory wars against two other groups–the Townies and the Cadets. The leader of the Cadets is Jonah Griggs, with whom Taylor has a unique history with. Marchetta was able to make me fall in love with Jonah Griggs and make me more invested in his character than I care to admit. JUST A WARNING: There are several love stories that are being followed and each play a key role in this book, so if you’re a sucker for that kind of thing like I am, read Jellicoe Road.

There are many recurring ideas of being lost and left behind and the experience of losing others. It started off as confusing and hard to follow in terms of plot and information, but I am willing to give Marchetta the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps, she was trying to convey the complex, lost feeling of the characters in the novel. It also struck me as one of those pieces with complicated plots that need to be read/watched multiple times (like Inception) to really answer all your questions. I have no doubt that this book will be just as amazing and brilliant the next time I read it as it did the first. I also want to point out that as the plot progressed, the middle and ending became increasingly predictable, but that was also forgivable. I loved the characters so much by then that I didn’t care.

I made the mistake of reading this book in one day (which resulted in me finishing it in pools of my own tears at around 1 AM). I woke up the next morning with the puffiest eyes EVER.

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This book is well written and an easy read if you want a good cry. This isn’t the typical cliche YA novel we’re all used to seeing. Marchetta has made a masterpiece for YA fiction and her telling of Taylor’s story is near-perfect–tragic yet not overdone with an over-dramatic plot.

See you next week,

Jeannie

P.S.- If you have any book suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!

Blog Updates! New summer, new me?

Hello, World!

This is Jeannie, one half of the epistle-loving duo that runs Vox Populi. It’s been many days, weeks, and months, since we’ve uploaded, and I want to say that we’re very sorry. Life and its shenanigans have made a roller-coaster of the last year!

That being said, there’s good news and bad news:

THE BAD:

Crystal has encountered the ~work force~ and as a result, her time seems to be more and more limited. From now on, it’ll just be me, Jeannie, writing to all you lovely people on this lovely site. You all are becoming the recipients of my letters.

THE GOOD:

I’ll be updating weekly for now (this is subject to change later, but I’ll let you know when/if I do). SUMMER HAS ARRIVED (which means more time for books and book reviews, since we can’t have one without the other on this page). I will begin this Wednesday with the first (revived blog) post.

I’ve missed you all and hope to continue to grow this page!

Back for good,

Jeannie

Everything, Everything

Dear Jeannie,

HahahAHaha, so it’s been a good few months since I last posted and I am so sorry. Somehow College has gotten even more hectic this year. It’s now reading week (our study week before finals) and I guess in honor of that, instead of studying, I actually read a book! A rare occurrence this semester, indeed.

Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything is a book I desperately wanted to love, for reasons I’ll get into below—don’t get me wrong, I did mostly enjoy it—but it fell far short of my expectations. It’s one of those John Green books. You know the type (and if you guessed okay then it must be getting its own movie, you’d be absolutely correct and here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42KNwQ6u42U).

It’s got the protagonist, a teenage girl named Madeline, who has read more books than anyone and also loves haikus, and who is incurably ill with SCID (basically you don’t have a functioning immune system and any germ or bacterium can get you deathly sick). Which means she can’t leave her sterile house. And of course how can it truly be like The Fault in Our Stars if there’s no star-crossed lovers shtick? Indeed it can’t. Meet Olly, her new next door neighbor and a very hot boy, if you buy what Madeline is selling. And who thinks she and her freckles is the sh*t.

[gif from The Fault in Our Stars; which is basically the same thing as having a gif straight from this book right? :)))))))]

And guess what?

They see each other through her window and it’s basically insta-love. But anyway, they can’t do anything together besides email and “IM” (I love when older people try to get with the teen lingo), since Olly gets to live in the world, Outside, and Madeline can’t. Some unexpected plot twists occur (I spoiled the book for myself while reading goodreads reviews unfortunately) although Yoon does a passable job in dropping enough hints that the plot twist seemed less like a Deus Ex Machina case and more like a plot point that drives the book to a more interesting place.

One of the things about this book that I was very excited for was that Madeline’s mom is Asian and her dad was African American, so she’s a very rarely represented ethnicity in YA lit and indeed in all literature probably. Unfortunately!!! And I’m so mad about this, the movie made her mom African American instead. Her being of Asian-African-American mixed race was, I felt, integral to who that character was in the novel, and was belabored by Yoon as well. This travesty of film casting is just another example of Hollywood’s “allergy” to Asian actors/actresses and I’m fricking angry about it.

Sorry for that aside into my feelings about the movie industry. But URGH SOCIETY!

I did love how the novel incorporated illustrations and incorporated the emails and “IMs” (lol). These non-text additions really helped make the novel more interesting and whimsical. See two examples below (ignore the top and bottom black bars those are from my phone when I screenshotted these):

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Anyway, despite my sarcasm laden complaints, and general grouchiness with how Madeline (and clearly the English language public, since John Green is still out there writing) buys into that whole “love conquers all” farce (Like it’s all the same!! Isn’t it boring by now? Or maybe I’m just getting old…), I felt like this was a fun enough read.

3/5 Would not read again, but I’m left with a net positive impression of the novel so…

Wish me luck on finals!

Love,

Crystal

Holiday

Dear Jeannie,

I”m so sorry for being this flaky but can I just use Election day as an excuse? The sense-making aspect of American politics has apparently decided to take a break so I feel like I should get to as well. (But really, I’ve just been swamped with project proposals, research, homework, exams etc.)

Here’s some fun links to tide you over till my next scintillating post:

http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/

http://www.sanger.dk/

Edited to add: This is a hilarious and also horrifying look into the heads of political speechwriters and the politicians they represent: http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/perfect-stump-speech/. (Click the highlighted words for super nsightful comments).

Anyway, see you on the flip side,

Crystal

Monster Culture: Seven Theses

Dear Jeannie,

Yeahhhh, school is crazyyy. I just went to this talk today and basically Time Management. The dude kept track of every single hour of his day and apparently it really helped! He dedicated an hour a day to programming side projects, which he said hands-down was the best decision he ever made. Maybe try that kind of time bookkeeping?

I didn’t finish the book I planned on reviewing so I’m just going to do a similar thing with the articles, except this one is a critical theory essay regarding monster culture. It’s an incredible read, very interesting, and as Trump would say, “I’m a big fan.” The essay by Jeffrey Cohen, called “Monster Culture: Seven Theses”, discusses why we, as a society, are so obsessed with monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Godzilla etc. etc.) and how often monsters can represent social margins and boundaries crossed. They can be effigies of everything we hate and also be the symbol of things we secretly want. One section is even called “Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire.”

Anyway, read it because it’ll definitely add a level to your writing on texts involving monsters in class (pshaw, you say, how many monster texts could there be? To which I’d respond, everything is a monster text). Let me tell you, my term paper for AP Literature after reading this essay was a big hit.

I actually found a link to the whole essay online, which, thanks internet! But also, please don’t arrest me:

http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf

So anyway, read it and let me know what you think!

Love,

Crystal

some articles

Dear Crystal,

This week has been too hectic with the whole “honors” projects shenanigans. UGh. I sincerely apologize for this let-down, but this week, there will not be one of those fabulous reviews by me.

Instead, here are some cool (and not political) news articles that I found:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/nyregion/to-the-woman-who-told-my-family-to-go-back-to-china.html

Shout out to my favorite yogurt~

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2016/10/13/greek-yogurt-is-no-longer-the-trendiest-yogurt/

HAHA I lied!! Here’s one about the election:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/its-come-to-this-2016-is-the-rape-election/2016/10/13/d2a2e326-90bc-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-lifestyle%3Ahomepage%2Fcard

Love,

Jeannie