Viva Jacquelina!: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away by L.A. Meyer is the tenth book in the Bloody Jack series. I want to talk about this book in a somewhat spoilery fashion, so if you are a fan of the series and have not yet read the book, you may want to read it before reading this post. Likewise, if you are not yet a fan of the series, you should take a look at Bloody Jack and go from there. If you like swashbuckling historical adventure stories for teens, you will adore this series. It's even better if you listen to the audiobooks, narrated by the incomparable Katherine Kellgren.
That's my plug for the series . . . now the spoilers shall commence:
tell the truth, this is the first Bloody Jack book that I have been
less than satisfied with. Part of the problem may have been that Jacky
spends most of the story on land (she's always at her best when she's at
sea) and separated, not just from Jaimy (par for the course), but also
from Higgins and all of her other friends. Naturally, she meets a few
more notable historical figures of the time period -- I'm not going to
quibble at that; sure, it's over-the-top, but the tall-tale feel is a
stylistic decision on the part of the author, and is consistent with the
rest of the series.
My other problem with this book was that I
didn't feel any heat between Jacky and Jaimy. This problem actually
started in the previous book, with Jaimy's temporary insanity and Jacky
spending a whole lot of time with the charming Lord Richard Allen -- I
got the feeling that Jacky was only rescuing Jaimy from himself out of a
sense of duty (it was, after all, her supposed death that drove him mad), and
that if she had her choice at that point, she would have taken Lord
Richard. In this book, Jacky spends a lot of time leading on a boy
several years younger than herself -- I felt badly for him, since it
seemed to me that Jacky never made a point of telling him, as she was so
fond of doing with other boys in previous books, that she was Promised
To Another. (I cynically wonder if she chose this boy to toy with
because he was not much of a threat to her virtue, or what remains of
it.) Jaimy, meanwhile, is off successfully resisting Seedra's charms in
Rangoon, and planning on getting back to Jacky, but in achieving a state
of Zen he loses some of his typical ardor. In real life, I would expect
Jacky and Jaimy to grow apart, especially since they never get to see
each other or spend much time together, but so much of the dramatic
tension of the series rides on Jacky and Jaimy's romance that it seems a
little anticlimactic for them to drift apart as they seem to be doing.
Of course, there were things that I liked about this book, and of course I will continue to read the series. I'm just beginning to wonder if it might be time for the series to start drawing to a close.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)