Hardcover, 278 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.
There’s only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life–if only she doesn’t get caught. . . .
As you may or may not know, I am challenging myself to read the entire Jacky Faber series this year with one book per month. This should work out well enough since there are twelve books in the series and the last one is scheduled to be released sometime in December. I read the first one back in 2009 and was immediately enamored of the main character and the spunk with which she faced her life.
I reread the first book in two days which isn’t that big of a deal considering it’s only about 300 pages long and to my relief, I still love it as much as I did back then. Enough to give it the five stars I gave it originally. The most successful thing about Meyer’s novel is the protagonist, the titular Jacky or as she is known Bloody Jack. There’s something fresh and attractive about her voice and the tone with which she narrates the story. The tone is able to express the immaturity and vulnerability that one usually associates with the age but also manages to somehow hint at someone deeper and more complex. A first person narrative is devilishly difficult to pull and I speak from experience here but Meyer pulls it off with a finesse that leaves me breathless.
Another reason he wins my admiration is how spot on he is with Jacky’s voice, he manages to exactly capture the voice, character and tone of a prepubescent girl who matures into a teenager. Again, that’s not something easy and especially not something I’ve seen done well by male writers. So kudos to Meyer for that. The pacing is brisk and the action is fast furious. The relationships are humourous and though there are some instances where the reader is required to suspend their disbelief, Meyer never asks the reader to do something impossible. The first book spans two years in Jacky’s life and the reader is taken on a rollicking ride from the slums of England to the beaches of Kingston. I can’t wait to read the next one and see where Jacky’s adventures take her.