Jane, Unlimited by Kristen Cashore
Well, my first ARC from Book Con was a trip and a half and I totally wasn’t expecting it.
When Jane, who recently lost her Aunt Magnolia, is invited to the lavish island mansion of Tu Reviens, she finds herself swept into a world of mystery where everyone has a secret. When Jane is faced with five separate choices, the story splits into five, each detailing increasingly bizarre outcomes as Jane discovers the secrets hidden within the house.
I have to say, the concept of this novel was fascinating,–a story that split into five completely different genres–and I truly appreciated what Cashore was trying to do. However, the complexity of the plot was stilted by the sheer obnoxiousness of the characters–particularly Jane and Kiran–who I found annoyingly entitled rather than the spunky heroines they were supposed to be.
The first two stories were more heist/action oriented, and also more character based, and I was a bit bored and disappointed by both. Jane–who had only just arrived on the island–kept mouthing off to people whose business she did not understand, and sticking her nose where it was not needed. In my opinion, both stories were stilted because of the bumbling characterization, though the complexity of the plots and their resolutions were impressive.
It was the final three stories that grabbed my attention as the book takes a sudden plunge into the truly weird and bizarre, though in the best way possible. The worlds and ideas Cashore crafts are absolutely fascinating. It is in these realms that she is master. The distorted Winnie-the-Pooh tales were some of the most horrifying moments I have ever encountered in YA, and her well thought through depictions of alternate dimensions were utterly unique. She has a matter-of-fact way of conveying these increasingly alien landscapes that truly immerses the reader and leaves them wanting more.
I was torn by Jane, Unlimited because, on one hand, the idea was impressive in scope, and the final 1/3 of the book rather mind-blowing. On the other, I detested Jane. She was very small minded and self-centered. A large point in the book focused on the idea of trust and that you should be able to tell the ones you love your deepest secrets. In certain capacities, I believe that is absolutely true. However, Jane and others seemed to expect to be told secrets without earning trust, secrets that if told to the wrong person could endanger the lives of others. I was beyond frustrated that Jane seemed to expect the Vanders’s and others to relay sensitive information to her, and she often became downright hostile and rude if refused. I did not understand at all what either Ivy or Ravi saw in her–though their characters were much more fleshed out and I could understand what Jane saw in them.
So, I suppose I recommend this book because it is different from anything else I have ever read. Just don’t expect characters who will capture your heart, because I honestly detested all of them.