Archives

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin CashoreTitle: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: September 19, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 6, 2017
Related Posts: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

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.

bookreview1

JANE, UNLIMITED is literally the most unique book I’ve ever read. It’s unlike anything else, with a unique concept, characters, plot, and structure, and this both enhanced my reading experience and left me utterly confused.

I need to go into books blindly so I don’t ruin the twists and the overall experience for myself so I did some reading up on the book immediately after finishing to help ground me a little bit, and I found (which I actually had heard before and completely forgot) that the concept originally started as a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel and developed into what it is. It’s quite impossible to really discuss the book without mentioning specific spoilers so for spoiler-free thoughts, I’ll say that it was quite a wild ride and listening to an audiobook may have made it even more complicated, not able to SEE what was going on with the print on the pages, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the audio performance (one of Rebecca Soler’s best, in my opinion).

Without knowing the CYOA concept, the book seemed unmoored — flowing from story to story not really knowing where one ended and the next began. Once I understood that these were actually telling different parts and weren’t following a chronological timeline, it made a lot more sense to me and I was able to appreciate it more. I thought at first that things were just non-sequential and I kept trying to put each part back into the first to follow through with the same timeline and it was just so confusing, but again, that probably would have been more easily deduced if I was reading a print copy and not the audio version. It also made a LOT more sense once I figured out that these were being told in different parts because I was thinking as I was listening that this story feels like it’s wrapping up but holy cow, I have a LONG way to go to finish this book haha!

That being said, I enjoyed most of the adventures. The first few parts were more enjoyable than the last few because things really started to go off the deep end towards the end of the book. It sort of starts in the more probable and drifts towards the more fantastical with each story and it was hard to grasp so many different genres within the same book as possibilities all at once, but I will say that it was incredibly interesting and I found them all fascinating, even if I didn’t particularly love each one. I DID love that each part revealed a little something and tied back to a point that was made in the beginning of the book or a part of another story. There were so many things going on in this peculiar house and Jane ended up discovering them all… just not all in the same version. I’m really glad the readers get to see why the characters are doing peculiar things, why the house feels a little bit emotional, and why the art plays such a big part of everything. Though I still don’t know why umbrellas are such a big deal.

One of my disappointments with the book was just that I needed a little something more from the ending. I would have been really impressed if the book had wrapped up with a singular ending that sort of put all of the stories at peace because none of them really ended and I would have been SUPER impressed if Kristin Cashore somehow tied them all up, sort of how the beginning set them all up. Instead they all kind of just taper off and there’s not a solid conclusion for any of them. I don’t mind open endings but I think this was a little TOO open and I would have been super impressed with something closing all of those open doors.

Usually when I’m confused about a book, the more I write about it, the more I realize how disappointed I was but I’m actually finding the opposite with JANE. The more I talk about it, the more fascinated I am and I wouldn’t be opposed to another collection of JANE stories somewhere down the road with even more possibilities. It’s a story with infinite worlds to explore and I’m sure even more things could be touched upon that I haven’t even thought of. I don’t think it’snecessary to know the structure of the book before starting but it did help me understand it more after finishing and helped me appreciate it more. I still would love that one last thing to tie it all together though.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Listening Library has basically been my reading savior this year. With so many candle things to do, I just don’t have time to sit and read anymore and they are so kind as to keep me on their reviewer list for audiobooks. I’ve been listening to one right after the other this year and I was so excited to see JANE, UNLIMITED as one of the options!

I knew I was in good hands with Rebecca Soler as the narrator. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she narrated The Lunar Chronicles audiobooks but personally, I feel like this is her best audiobook performance yet. I think her voices were more distinct in this book than in previous books and her voice and tone just really fit the overall feel of JANE, UNLIMITED.

The audio was probably a little bit harder to follow than the print copy due to the nature of the book but it still totally works and probably isn’t confusing if you don’t go into reads blind like I do!

 

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Extremely unique formatting. I love seeing new and unique things not only in YA but anywhere in the literary world. This book cobbled together the different decisions that Jane could have made and it was interesting to see each one of them play out!
Left Me Wanting More: Closure. I didn’t really feel like the ending of the book really closed it off. I guess the point is kind of that the choices really are unlimited… I’d totally be up for another book full of possible endings though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so clever and so unique. The tone was also a LOT of fun with a neat cast of characters, including a house that was a character in itself.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE JANE, UNLIMITED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin CashoreTitle: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: October 8, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 15, 2012
Related Posts: Jane, Unlimited

    Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight -- she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
    When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
    She never expects to become Po's friend.
    She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace  or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

bookreview1

I picked up GRACELING due to the many, many glowing reviews I’ve seen around the blogosphere. Usually I’m not one for fantasy-type stories or settings in kingdoms. For some reason, I’m not usually captured by medieval stories or fantasy worlds — But GRACELING was just so much more than that!

I loved the idea of Graces. It’s only a few people who develop Graces and they must protect themselves fiercely for the fear that they’ll be taken advantage of by those who have power over them. Katsa’s Grace was abused by her uncle, King Randa of Middlun, and she was forced to do his bidding of pain and killings against his enemies with her Grace ability of fighting and killing.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Katsa is a fighter — She’s tough, she’s strong, and she’s built up a wall around herself that’s tough for people to break. Her only close companions are her cousin Raffin (who’s another extremely enjoyable and funny character) and less close, her companions of the Council and her servant Helda. The relationship that develops between her and Po is extremely hesitant at first, but easily became one of my favorite relationships in a book. Katsa and Po are both extremely strong characters, but together they create a perfect team. Katsa is more serious, and always has been, and Po has an excellent sense of her and is able to bring the humor. I love his teasing of Katsa and he really breaks her down and is able to create such a trusting and loving bond with her.

The mystery behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather was also a great development in the story. It’s not just fighting and romance and fighting and romance. We learn more about the true nature of a few of the kingdoms as we also develop more of the characters. It’s many layers of a story that unfold so nicely and seamlessly carried me throughout the book.

Bitterblue, who we meet later in the story (and I’ve grown to not hate her name as I had before I read the book!), is another great character addition. She’s a little fireball and another strong character. Even with all of the strength in this book, I was never overwhelmed, which looking back on it is surprising.

GRACELING just had it all: A great story line, a fantastic world, an element of almost “supernatural” with the Graces, fighting, romance, humor, more romance, evil, action, the outdoors, fantasy, wonderful character development. And I just loved Cashore’s writing style! It felt a little medieval without being overwhelming or confusing with the language. It put me in the perfect mindset while reading and really helped develop the story that much more.

addiction_factor1

Buy it!

 I loved it! And that’s exactly what I exclaimed after I finished the book and closed it. And hugged it.

QUOTES

  • p 134: Katsa didn’t think a person should thank her for not causing pain. Causing joy was worth of thanks, and causing pain was worthy of disgust. Causing neither was neither, it was nothing, and nothing didn’t warrant thanks.
  • p 187: (Po to Katsa, humorously) “And I suppose it never occurs to you to start small. If I told you my roof needed rebuilding, you’d start by knocking down the house.”
  • p 202: Po sat back in his chair. His eyes flicked lazily around the room. He drank from his cup of cider, and his finger traced the wet ring it left on the table. He leaned his elbow on the table and propped his head in his hand. He yawned. He looked, Katsa thought, as if he only needed a lullaby and he would nod off to sleep. It was a good act.
  • p 431: King Ror: “I have no doubt that you are more than capable of bringing the Monsean queen and my son and the rest of my sons and a hundred Nanderan kittens through and onslaught of howling raiders if you chose to.”

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE GRACELING