I’ve written before about how amazing Melina Marchetta is, giving six reasons why you should read her books:
1) The writing is unbelievable.
2) The characters are people you want to know in real life.
3) The books are laced with wonderful humor.
4) You can’t guess what will happen next.
5) She knows how to write about teen romances without being cliche.
6) She is consistently good. Every. Single. Book.
This time, I thought I’d tell you a little about the books themselves so that you can choose where you’d like to start (since I *REQUIRE* that you read her books).
Jellicoe Road is my favorite. It’s a contemporary novel set in Australia, and it’s about a territory war between the boarding school kids, the townies, and the cadets (boys from a military school who camp on their land six weeks each year). It’s really two stories that become one (gosh, I love when that happens), and it’s probably my favorite contemporary YA novel period. Just saying. It can be a little confusing at the beginning, but keep reading: it will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle in the end, and then you’ll want to go re-read it immediately. Also, major swoon factor: Jonah Griggs is one tough cadet with a heart.
Saving Francesca is right up there for me, right alongside Jellicoe Road. It’s about a girl whose mom is going through a mental breakdown at home while the girl is trying to maneuver her way through her new school– which had been an all-boys school prior to that year. It’s uh-may-zing. Seriously. When I read this one, I just soak in the utter brilliance of Marchetta. Not to mention that there is a hot Italian-Australian math nerd hottie involved.
The Piper’s Son reunites the Saving Francesca gang, only it’s five years down the road, and this story promotes a secondary character from the first book to being the protagonist. And, my oh my, he does so well in that role! This book is about a family that is trying its best– making it sometimes and not making it sometimes. It’s sheer brilliance.
Looking for Alibrandi is actually Marchetta’s first novel that put her name on the map. Even though it’s my least favorite book of hers, it is still so, so good. Now, that’s pretty impressive. It’s about a girl whose lifelong absent father suddenly re-enters her life.
And then we come to the fantasy stories. Yes, that’s right– Marchetta is just as comfortable writing fantasies as she is writing contemporaries. So. Much. Talent.
The Lumatere Chronicles begin with Finnikin of the Rock, an amazing story full of twists and turns about reviving a kingdom that’s been under a curse. I’m not naturally drawn to fantasy novels (with the glaring exceptions of Narnia, Potter, and The Last Unicorn), so I didn’t immediately purchase this book. But after I’d read all her contemporaries, I was dying for more Marchetta, so I took the plunge … and am so glad I did! This book was delicious.
Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn round out the trilogy, and they are full of politics and intrigue and romance. I should warn you– Froi ends on a killer cliffhanger, so make sure you have Quintana ready to go afterward! I read Froi before the third book was out and ended up ordering an Aussie copy of book three so that I could get my hands on it 6+ months before the book was released in the US. That good.
It’s the characters, I think, that make all her books so good. When you start with amazing characters, you can toss them into any situation and see what happens. Melina Marchetta is a masterful storyteller, my favorite YA writer out there, and you’d better believe that is the highest of praise coming from me.
Hop to it! In my opinion, you should just skip the library and purchase copies of your own to have and to hold from this day forward.
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
For those of you who have already read Marchetta’s books, what is your favorite and why? Leave a comment below!