I was first introduced to a Melina Marchetta novel when I was in year 7, I’d always been a keen reader, however I rarely ever strayed from the fantasy genre, but my mother decided it was time for me to spread my wings a little bit and try something different, so she handed me Looking for Alibrandi.
I’ll admit at first I was a little bit wary, and probably a little bit too young to read it, but I read the whole thing in one sitting and was instantly hooked. At that point Melina didn’t have many other books out, Saving Francesca had come out but even my mother knew that was too old for me at only year 7. So my love for Melina was shelved and I was back to my fantasy ways.
But that only lasted until the summer of year 9 when I was given Saving Francesca as an early birthday present. Like Looking For Alibrandi I read it in one sitting and greedily drank in every word.
I revisited Looking for Alibrandi and I discovered that at an older age I could appreciate the story more, and now as a VCE student re-reading it again before I started the school year just opened my eyes more, and I kept finding every time I re-read the novel I enjoyed it even more.
I was overjoyed when Piper’s Son came out, rushing out to the book store to buy my copy, reading it as quickly as possible, just to go back and read it all over again. Then I heard Melina was writing fantasy, and I stopped dead in my tracks, my two greatest loves crossing over, Melina and Fantasy. I honestly thought it was going to end in disaster.
As the publishing date came closer and closer my nerves got the better of me, and I convinced myself that I wouldn’t read it, in case it ruined both Fantasy and Melina for me. But I had nothing to worry about.
The day after Finnikin of the Rock had been released I had a friend coming up to me asking if I’d read it yet, I answered truthfully no, and I wasn’t planning to, she was immediately disappointed, saying I couldn’t be a Melina or Fantasy fan without reading it, so I went home and quite reluctantly read it, thinking once you’ve read it, you can move on with love.
But I was in for a massive shock. Finnikin of the Rock did not ruin Melina for me. It did not ruin Fantasy for me, instead merged the two together to create this amazing novel which immediately became my favourite Melina book.
Although The Lumatere Chronicles are fantasy, it is still essentially Melina. It still has her familiar writing style, still has her strong resilient female protagonist, and definitely still has the swoon worthy boys. However it offers a side of Melina not seen in any of her previous novels, she has created this new universe where the novel is set, which offers the reader a place to escape to.
Like her other novels her main characters are barely even adults, sitting on the awkward cross over lines between teenager and adult. The series still presents the ideas of childhood and what defines the moment you become an adult, like many of her other novels, and also has the romantic love stories that are essentially Melina. As in her other novels these love stories are quite unconventional, and at points seem doomed for failure, but they wouldn’t be a Melina novel without a somewhat happy ending.
The main difference I find between Melina’s previous novel’s and The Lumatere Chronicles, despite the obvious genre change, is that The Lumatere Chronicles appeals to both boys and girls, where as I found that all her previous novels being generally targeted towards girls, although the main protagonist of The Piper’s Son was a boy, the prequel Saving Francesca was distinctly a girls novel.
The Lumatere Chronicles appeals to boys, not only due to the main character of the first two novels in the books being boys, but due to the fantasy idea and the main characters being members of their kingdoms Guard, it was more generally appealing to both sexes rather than just girls.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Melina’s books, whether they are some of her earlier works or The Lumatere Chronicles, Melina’s novels span a wide range of different readers, and appeal to everyone in some sort of way. Melina is a gifted writer, being able to span across different genres, and appeal to such a wide range of different audiences.
Melina’s novels are great for secondary school aged students and would be a great addition to class rooms.
Alice Mulvogue is a Year 11 student at Genazzano FCJ College.