One-Sentence Review: Although this book would’ve worked better in a traditional format, I fell completely in love with the complex plot and cast of incredible characters.
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. (Summary from Goodreads)
This novel took me completely by surprise. I went in not entirely knowing what to expect (I had never read a Kristin Cashore novel before), and came out utterly intrigued about her style and wanting to pick up her other books. With this book alone, I can tell she’s one of those authors who meticulously crafts her stories, making every detail matter to create a plot that will blow your mind and only make sense once you’ve finished the last page.
I’ll start with the negatives, because while this book was absolutely fantastic, it had one major flaw: it shouldn’t have been a “pick your own adventure” book. After reading the author’s note I understood that Cashore’s original intention was to make it a full-on, alternate ending, second person perspective book, but I feel with how the story progressed throughout the novel as a whole, this format just didn’t work. As a single unit, the plot was wonderful and felt complete (well, except for one of the stories). With the separate endings, however, it was impossible not to notice that none of the alternate results really provided solid endings on their own: instead, Cashore relied on the other 4 conclusions to fill in the holes left over by a particular finish and complete the resolution of the plot’s various mysteries. In my opinion, there was just too much going on in the first 100 pages for the story to be resolved in 5 different ways, and I definitely feel this book would’ve done better in a traditional format.
Viewed as a continuation story, though, I loved everything about this book, from the characters to the mysteries to the science to the magical aspects. The plot was masterfully woven together to form a complex plot in which every single detail had some significance, and I absolutely loved how everything came together at the end. Yes, there were a lot of characters to keep track of; yes, the plot was weird and strange most of the time… but that’s what made this book so unique and one of the main reasons it’s one of the best I’ve read this year.
I loved all of the characters. ALL OF THEM. If you think an author can only make you care about so many characters in a single book, think again. Because in this novel, Cashore makes you fall in love with EVERYONE. Although it was sometimes hard to keep track of everyone, each and every character had an essential role in each one of the endings, and I loved seeing Jane’s perspective of them change again and again.
Overall, while I didn’t feel the alternate endings aspect of this book really added much to the novel, I absolutely adored the craziness that was this book: SO many different things happened, we were introduced to a whole lot of mind-blowing things (I’m trying so hard to avoid spoilers, so I apologize for vagueness), AND this book somehow seamlessly blended facets of spy novels, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and mystery (a feat of magic in itself, honestly).
I recommend this book for EVERYONE (because like I said, essentially every genre is in it), but if you’re looking for something quick and are a huge fan of a particular genre, read the first 80 pages or so (until you reach Jane’s moment of decision) and choose the ending that suits the genre you like!
Thank you to PenguinTeen for hosting this blog tour & providing me with an ARC of Jane, Unlimited!