Review: Jane, Unlimited

At least there’s a dog.

2 out of 5 stars

Goodreads.com: Jane, Unlimited, by Kristen Cashore

I like both Kristen Cashore and the idea of this book much more than the disappointing final product. Read her absolutely excellent Graceling series instead.

jane4A sort of choose-your-own-adventure, Jane, Unlimited follows the titular character on a happenstance journey to a mysterious island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane’s heard of the house: her beloved and recently passed Aunt Magnolia made Jane promise that if she were ever invited, she would go.

That setup has much more promise than the book delivers. Jane discovers a number of mysteries, and at the appointed moment, Tu Reviens complies by giving her a choice of five paths to follow. One by one, she takes each, and the stories become gothic horror, sci-fi, fantasy, a heist, and something else I can’t remember. And that’s the overall affect of this book. The mysteries all sound like they’re written just for me – art heist? space opera? fantasy world where humans empathically communicate with animals!?!? Sadly, they all turn out to be quite lame.

jane5Second to the box-of-rocks plotlines, Jane is a wet noodle of a heroine. She’s supposed to be figuring herself out, but everyone around her is either spoiled and/or kind of an asshole, and most of them haven’t grown up yet either. Inscrutable and dull, the rest of the cast ensured I didn’t care about anyone, at all.

Except Jasper the dog. Far and away the best part of this book, in all five stories.

On their own, and with some significant work to the characters, any of the story arcs might be compelling. But here they’re too short, and too slapdash. It’s as if in writing the first 1/10 of the story, Cashore only put in 1/10th of the work it would need. Confusing is not the same as interesting, amirite? I would rather have read five books full of Cashore’s quirky imagination than thirty pages of what feels like a first draft.

Visual aid: This book also suffers from a terrible hardcover cover design. The prismatic effect is helped by great bookstagram lighting here. In person, it’s flat and lifeless. (Cute interior umbrella, though.)

jane1

The cover was greatly improved in paperback, and is a big part of what tricked me into buying this book. Too bad the story couldn’t get a do-over.jane3

 

 

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