L. A. Meyer – Viva Jacquelina!
Length: 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Started: 09 September 2012
Finished: 10 September 2012
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was very much in the mood for something quick and fun.
Painters, bulls, gypsies,
and when you least expect it:
Summary: Jacky Faber is sent by the British Intelligence Service to act as an aide and spy for the general currently directing the war against the French in Spain. For Jacky, though, things are rarely so simple, and soon she finds herself far from the battlefield and taking up residence in household of the famous painter Francisco Goya, as a servant, model, and occasional student. But the attention of the younger men in the studio earns Jacky yet another enemy, and she will have to face charging bulls, a band of gypsies, and – right when she least expects it – the Spanish Inquisition. Meanwhile, her true love Jaimy is yet again on the other side of the world from Jacky, recuperating in Rangoon.
Review: The Bloody Jack books are, in general, good solid fun in an interesting and vivid historical setting. They’ve got some issues – which I’ll get to below – but even so, I can typically rely on them to be an engaging and enjoyable few hours’ read. This was true of Viva Jacquelina! as much as any earlier books in the series; in fact, this installment was relatively free of a lot of the problems that had bothered me about earlier books. Specifically, while this book is just as episodic as ever, the transitions from one episode to the next felt smoother than usual, and the whole thing felt more self-contained. It was also nice that most of the secondary characters in this book were new to this story; I’ve complained in the past about Jacky being unable to go anywhere without running into eleven people she knows (but that I can’t remember very well, since they were introduced six books ago.) One downside of this was not enough of the familiar characters that I like – namely Higgins – but that’s a relatively easy price to pay.
Meyer also did a very good job of establishing Jacky’s age – seventeen – right up front, almost as if he’d registered my confusion (and annoyance about Jacky’s immaturity) from the last book. Jacky’s still a free spirit, and her constant flirting and scheming and disregard for consequences still makes her feel a little immature, but it’s much more realistic and forgivable in a 17-year-old than someone in their 20s. (The flip side of that is that she’s had a ludicrous number of adventures – 10 books’ worth! – in only three years.) Jacky’s hijinks, especially in regards to attractive members of the opposite sex, do tend to get a little repetitive, and although part of me finds this tiring, it’s also part of what makes these books such a good quick break for when I’m tired or stressed or burned out on more serious reads. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: There’s a lot of series continuity in these books, but the plots are independent and episodic enough to be read on their own. Still, the first four books are the best, so if you’re looking for a fun, funny, and fast historical fiction series, I’d recommend starting with Bloody Jack.
Other Reviews: In Bed With Books
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First Line: “It is time to cut it off, Higgins,” I announce firmly, seating myself in front of my mirror.
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