Hey, so I was lucky enough to get myself on the Jane, Unlimited blog tour. I wasn’t a fan of Kristin Cashore before this. I mean, I’ve heard a lot about her books and I plan to read her Graceling Trilogy at some point, but I haven’t yet. Something about this book spoke to me though, and when I was invited to be on the tour (I honestly mostly hate blog tours because I always hate the book), I took the chance. So glad I did. My review follows this, and at the end of the post is a giveaway (US only).
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on September 19th 2017
Genres: young adult, fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery-thriller, gothic
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Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.
Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.
Multiverses. Alternate dimensions. Other worlds. One decision leads to one outcome, while another leads to a completely different path. Jane, Unlimited is a high-concept young adult novel. This is a book for readers that prefer the odd, the quirky, the plot that’s completely out in space. Literally.
It’s true that Jane, Unlimited was originally envisioned and written as a choose-your-own-adventure novel. It took the author four years to fix and rewrite it until it got to the state it’s in now. And what a novel it is.
Jane’s Aunt Magnolia dies while taking wildlife photos in Antarctica. Months before she passes, she promises Jane to never turn down an invitation to Tu Reviens–a large, hulking manor on a private island somewhere off the coast of Manhattan. After she dies, Jane’s schoolmate, Kiran, invites her to spend some time there, and Jane is suffering and in mourning and not recovering well. Remembering her aunt’s words, Jane goes.
Jane, Unlimited is one of the most inventive, creative, memorable novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It reaches across all genres, all formats, and ends up being something completely new and never before done. It is five stories in one.
It starts out contemporary with a Gothic feel. Then a bell rings, and Jane must make a decision. Whichever decision Jane makes will result in a completely different outcome–a different multiverse. In one story, Jane deals with art theft. In another, it’s all about the housekeeping staff being spies. There’s one with a horror twist and a brutal ending. Then it gets really wacky and takes Jane to alternate dimensions and space. And the final story is, perhaps, my favorite. A portal fantasy.
When you read past the first story (which I loved), it was absolutely brilliant how the things that happened in the first story happen in the background in the second, and then the things that happen in the second, happen in the third. And in that way, they all end up being connected. And if you pay attention to all the details, I just think about how much work was put into getting it all right.
The characters are brilliantly rendered and well-developed. I was quite attached to Kiran and Jane and Ivy. I couldn’t have cared less about the male characters, honestly, but the women were great, as were the delightful touches of lesbian romance. And Jasper. Precious Jasper. What a sweet, good, lovable doggo.
I’m definitely not going to say this is a book for everyone, because it’s probably not. But what Kristin Cashore is able to do absolutely blew me away. The storytelling made my eyes bug out. Suspension of disbelief is always an issue for me, and yet it wasn’t here. And this book attempts to pull some wacky, unbelievable shit. The mark of a talented author is the ability to convince the reader that their world and/or concept is real. That it’s executed well. That you get lost in the pages. Welp, I’m convinced.