Sunday, October 14, 2012

Viva Jacquelina! (review)

4/5 stars

It's hard to believe that Viva Jacquelina! is the 10th Jacky Faber book.  At times this series feels like it's dragging on and on but on the other hand I'm like "WAIT I've read TEN Jacky Faber books? Are you sure it's that many?"

I think many of us who love Jacky have intense yet confusing feelings about her.  We love her adventurous spirit and flirty ways.  Yet we feel like sometimes she takes the flirting too far and will never settle down with good reliable Jaimy, that maybe she loves the sea more than she'll ever love anyone.

Viva Jacquelina! felt like a solid book in the series.  I can't say that it necessary moves the Jaimy/Jacky storyline forward, but it also doesn't go off on strange tangents.  Instead the book follows a logical progression (well as logical as it gets where Jacky is concerned).  Jacky is once again in the service of British intelligence.  She goes off to war in Portugal, fighting the French and riding off with guerillas to gather more intelligence.  When the guerillas are ambused, Jacky is seperated from her friends.  In true Jacky fashion, she goes off on her own and finds new and exciting friends.  By luck, she stumbles upon the house of master painter Goya, becoming a servant and model for his painting students.  If that sounds like a strange chain of events then you haven't met Jacky Faber (Let me remind you when was randomly stolen away by a female pirate....).

In warzones Jacky is almost introspective, thinking about her own cowardice and fully aware of the harsh realities of war.  This version of Jacky has actually grown on me.  She's more grown-up, more aware of the consequences of her actions.  She may not be as fun and flirty, but there are times for silliness and times for contemplation.

Of coures Jacky still flirts, but her flirtation (except for with Lord Richard Allen in the beginning) feels tamer than normal.  She's actually aware of the effect her womanly ways have, especially on a younger boy named Cesar, and seems to hold back just enough to remain mostly loyal to Jaimy.  There may be kisses but if anyone tries to get too close, Jacky pushes them away.

Some of the more recent Jacky adventures have felt random and disconnected for the series as a whole. They've felt like adventures that are meant to prolong the story.  So I fully went into this book nervous, expecting disappointment.  But by following real history, returning Jacky to her roots as a British soldier, this book managed to feel more like a planned novel and less like a divergence.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  This book is very readable and very fun, without being stupid.  There are some great moments, such as  Jacky discovering hallucinogenic mushrooms, her posting for a very famous pinting (Maja denuda by Goya) and of coures I loved the interactions with Lord Richard Allen at the beginning of the book.

At the end of the book, Jacky and Jaimy are finally sailing in the same direction.  Of course that could mean nothing. There have been plenty of books that ended with a grain of hope, then something happens before they ever land on the same continent.  But I feel like that won't happen this time.  Maybe I'm just overly hopeful, but the timing feels right for Jaimy/Jacky to meet again.  After seeing so much war and death, how could they not run back to each other?

I'm giving this book a better rating than more recent Jacky books.  However, if the next book just goes off on another tangent, all the potential for getting this story back on track will be lost and it won't deserve 4 stars.  It's hard to know if my positive feelings are just hope, or if this series is actually heading in the right direction again.  All I can say for sure is that I really enjoyed this book.


Angelica R. Jackson said...

It sounds like it's worth a read at any rate, as long as I prime my expectations with a grain of salt!

Liesel K. Hill said...

I haven't ever read this series but it sounds like fun! Thanks for the review! :D

April (BooksandWine) said...

I'm currently listening to these books on audio and AM SO IN LOVE.

Also? I like how you totally didn't spoil me at all with your review.