Summary: Taylor tries to piece together the mystery of why her mother abandoned her at a 7-11 years ago, what happened to Hannah, the woman who lives adjacent to her boarding school and is the closest thing to a parent she has, who a mysterious hermit really was, if there's a serial killer threatening her friends, and what, if anything, this all has to do with Hannah's manuscript about five kids who used to live on the Jellicoe Road where Taylor's school is, where her mother left her. On top of that, she has to deal with leading her boarding school houses in a territory war against the neighboring Townies and the military school Cadets, even though she has a crush on both leaders of the rival factions.
Verdict: Confusing, drags in parts, but fun nonetheless.
Positive: The mystery was well-crafted and took me a while to figure out. The book's message eventually is about love, friendship, and standing together instead of picking each other apart. The romance was also decent once it got off the ground.
Negative: It took me over 150 pages to figure out what was going on. Territory wars? Cadets? There was exposition, but it didn't really clarify things for me. Marchetta isn't big on setting the scene, either. I couldn't for the life of me get a grasp of the big picture. The mystery took a while to get off the ground, too. Taylor worries because Hannah disappeared, but most of the first part of the book is about the three different groups of kids struggling to decide who gets to use the Club House, and I just didn't care.
But the Printz committee seems to have liked it, so who am I to be a detractor.