The Jumbee- Pamela Keyes.

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Cringe. Did we need an epilogue?

High Point.
A YA book NOT set in an American high school and/or horrifying dystopian future! Different ethnicities! Superstitions/Caribbean magic- didn’t know much about this so it was really interesting to learn about beliefs. Ms Keyes can write- some really lavish paragraphs of description without being too eye-rolling cliché-ey. Based wholly on her descriptions, I almost booked a plane ticket. Really great re-telling of a classic- I haven’t read the book but I love the musical and the film, so I was a bit sceptical about this side of things but I was pleasantly surprised. Rafe = 100% HOTTIE.

Low Point.
Annoying name. Esti? Yuck. Why does every female protagonist (no matter how awesome she is) have to have ridiculous names with a cutesy story behind it? Actually, the whole character of Esti is a low point (more on this in Heroine section). The love triangle. This is going to be personal preference and I know a lot of people reading this will be like ‘Huh? But how can that be a low point? That is the highest point EVER!’… But I really don’t like Shakespeare and I especially don’t’ like Romeo and Juliet and seeing as this book is pretty much all about R&J…. well, yeah.

Heroine
As I was reading this book, I made notes in my little notepad because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write a review for a while and my memory is ridiculous and I didn’t want to forget anything. If I can read my ‘a spider just walked through some ink and Tangoed across the paper’ scrawl, I wrote “Esti- She is teetering on the edge of being an AFP (Annoying Female Protagonist), will decide when we meet the boys, but watch it. You’re on thin ice. Don’t become self-involved and ruin the whole book’.
Sigh. Guess what happened. Esti was originally portrayed as a strong character, mourning her dad’s death, trying to find her place in a new school in a complete different culture than she was used to and trying to work out why she kept hearing voices when she was alone in the theatre. Typical high school stuff, right? But I found it really difficult to like her. She was a crap best friend, a crap girlfriend (seriously, she is the most ficklest (is this a real word? If not, it should be!) character I have read for a while, I love Rafe, no… wait. I love Alan. Girl, please… at least let a chapter go by before you change your mind which man you want. I may get confused easily, but COME ON.
Also, the award for the worst daughter goes to? Seriously, if you think your *SLIGHT SPOILER* mother has an alcohol problem, don’t just judge her and slip in snarky “WHAT NUMBER BOTTLE IS THAT, MOTHER?”, maybe just talk to her. Oh and also, don’t make the situation by following a sexy ghost to a creepy, haunted island. Probably won’t help your mum.
Although, props to the bit where Esti asks ‘You’re not my half-brother or something like that?” Hahaaa, excellent. I was thinking it… and panicking that we had another Flowers in the Attic situation going on.

Love Interest.
OK, there are two. So let’s get Alan out of the way. Yes, that’s right. ALAN. I know I said I liked my characters to have normal names and I may be totally contradicting myself here, but ALAN. It doesn’t scream the mysterious, sexy jumbee who lurks in the shadows, teaches you how to act the most romantic (yawn) plays ever written and makes your stomach go all a-quiver at just the mention of his name. Alan reminds me of a substitute teacher with corduroy trousers and always smells of teacher-coffee. Or, y’know this. Why not just stick with Elon? That’s a cool and local name. 
But anyway. OK, I was very sad about Alan. I wanted him to be irresistible and smouldering. But he did nothing for me. Especially towards the end… he was just a bit intense and well, boring, for my liking and I don’t understand why Esti was so besotted with him. They had no chemistry with each other. And he was also really violent- shockingly so and not the tortured, misunderstood hero I so wanted him to be.
I think I was expecting this.

But did I get it? No, did I ‘eck.
And that brings me to Rafe. Ahh, Rafe. Sweet, funny, sexy, man-whorish, trouble-with-the-police, appropriately-named Rafe. He has it all going for him and is just the right amount of sweet without being cringe and the right amount of flirty-tirty without me wanting to slap him in the face with a metaphorical sexual harassment suit. Keyes did a great job with this character and he was really realistic (doesn’t everyone know a Rafe and wish to be in his pants. Wait, what? *shifty look*).

So why did it *SLIGHT SPOILER* take Esti so long to realise he was the one that she should be in love with? For a book that was all about the love-triangle… it was, at least for me, a very one sided triangle. I’d go scuba-diving with Rafe any day… Wait, that sounds weird. IT’S IN THE BOOK, DAMMIT.

Best Friends.

Hmm. Seeing as the book was, as I said before, all about the love-triangle, then my second favourite character was sadly over-looked. I loved Carmen. Sassy, curvy and Latina- how can you not want to be her friend? It didn’t help that I kept seeing her as Carmen from Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and America Ferrara is right up there on my list of celebrities I want to go shopping with. But anyway, she was friendly with an edge of feist and she totally put Esti in her place when she, inevitably ditches her when she’s in full-on love triangle mode.

Theme Tune

Angst Scale.
9/10. If we ignore the love-triangle angst (Please, let’s just ignore the love-triangle angst even though it skewers the rating to the ridiculously angsty heights of a 9 because Esti seems to LOVE the love-triangle angst and changes her mind about where her affections lie more times than she’s had hot meals and likes to tell us, unsuspecting, readers all about this angst.) this book is dark. When a book starts with the sentence “Paul is dead!”- you know there’s going to be no messing about. The superstitions and island folk-lore that chills you to the bone? Yes. A father’s untimely death? Yes. Not fitting in at high school. Yes. Teenagers dying under mysterious circumstances? Yes. Dominating love interest whose actions border on emotional (and one time, physical) violence? Yes. Mother with an alcohol problem? Yes.
It’s just such a shame that the teenage girl angst got in the way of all that because it would have been a much more interesting and original book if they had focussed more on all of them. But yeah… a 9 for the ‘I love him. I love him, not’ see-saw.

Recommended For…
People who love the theatre. People who want a book that isn’t set in an American high school. People who are interested in well-researched folk-lore. People who have always wanted to be Juliet but got lumbered with Lady Capulet. People who always wished that Gerard Butler would take them to his creepy, water lair. Wait… wrong medium. People who always wanted an oddly attracted drama teacher who may or may not need to see a dermatologist. People who like to read books with colloquial dialogue. People who want to meet a sexy corn-rowed sexy-men called Rafe and are considering taking swimming lessons….. just in case.

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