Rating: 3.5 Crickets
Title: Jasper Jones
Author: Craig Silvey
Cover Design: Lisa White
Cover Photography: Getty Images
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 2009 (edition in photo 2010)
Late on a hot summer night at the tail-end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleepout. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie steals into the night by his side, terrified but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him through town to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery.
Carrying the secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is harried by a suspicious town tightening in fear. In the simmering summer where everything changes, he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse; why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
I found Jasper Jones to be quite an interesting read. This book wasn’t one that I had picked up myself to read, but given to me by my father after he invited me to see the movie and I said I wished to read the book first. I had previously heard whispers about Jasper Jones, in English classes and the such, and it intrigued me, but I was never really sure what the story was actually about.
The first chapter really drew me in, there was no slow beginning, no leading up to what was going to happen, it just starts right in the action. Unfortunately for me, when I started to read this book it was quite late at night, and the first chapter was 52 pages long, so I had to leave it mid scene because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
This was an annoying little feature of the book, in my opinion. Only because, personally, if I have to stop somewhere I prefer it to be at the end of a chapter, not in the middle of one, but more often than not, due to the long chapters, I was having to stop at random pages. But, it’s not the end of the world, and luckily there were those little dots that are sometimes between paragraphs and so I would stop at one of those instead.
This typically isn’t really my style of book, theme wise, so it did take me a little bit to get into it after the first chapter. Not to say that I don’t enjoy these types of books, and I certainly did enjoy this one, it’s just not one I would pick for myself.
However, I was intrigued by the storyline and I enjoyed trying to work things out as the story progressed and more clues were brought forward.
The characters were also cleverly written. Charlie is only 13 years old, but due to his love of reading he tends to have a maturity about him and it was sometimes easy to forget his real age. However, there were still clear moments in which his true age showed, and his conversations with Jeffrey Lu were certainly entertaining.
I also found it interesting in how the story was laid out, in that it almost seemed to jump around a bit with the timeline. Such as, something would be happening and then a “bombshell” of sorts would be dropped, then the next paragraph would be after the event, and then the next section would explain what happened directly after the “bombshell” dropped. It was a little confusing at times, but I personally liked this layout, it made the story more entertaining.
My favourite part was probably the cricket match scene towards the end of the book. I won’t say anything to give any spoilers, but a few cool things did happen. I also really enjoyed the ending of the story. It was different to how I expected it to end, and I liked that it was able to surprise me. It was also a better ending than I had in mind, which is a good thing for both the characters and the readers.
There were times in which this book reminded me of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee (which I read for school in yr10), which apparently is a common notion considering that I found on the cover it says “an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird”. I found a few similarities between themes or characters between the novels, however Jasper Jones was definitely unique enough to stand out as it’s own book.
Surprisingly, there were also a few times in which this novel reminded me of ‘Looking For Alaska’ by John Green – I’m sure that is not a comparison that is often made. But there was just something about Charlie, Eliza, Jasper and Jeffrey that just made me think of the characters in John Green’s book.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I definitely recommend that you give it a read. However, there was some inappropriate language throughout the novel so I do not recommend that younger readers give it a try until they’re older.
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The Sydney Morning Herald