Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Audiobook review: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Book Summary
If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

Flo's Review
Though I have never read the Graceling books, I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of the Jane, Unlimited audiobook. Even better, it's read by one of my favorite narrators, Rebecca Soler. And the concept is really, really cool -- it's sort of like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure,' except you get to experience all the options, and each option is a different genre.

The thing is...I didn't end of up loving this as much as I thought I would. I know I am like an old track on repeat as far as my feelings on connecting with characters, but on the off chance you haven't heard this hitch of mine before: in order to enjoy a book, I find that I have to like at least one character. It doesn't have to be the main character. But I've got to be rooting for somebody. Here, I was not. I found Jane to be extremely annoying. She reminded me of Thomas in The Maze Runner. I didn't enjoy that book as much as many others did because I didn't like Thomas. He and Jane have similar personalities -- they come in from the outside and then just ask demanding questions of everyone already established in the situation. And then Jane would be rude, snarky, and short with her answers whenever someone asked her something. She seemed to form quick opinions of people that were often non-flattering, and then she reacted to those people based on how she felt about them. It felt to me that she didn't really respect the others in the house, outside of Kiran, Ravi, and Ivy.

Ivy is a good transition to the next thing that left me feeling disconnected from this book. I felt there were several storylines that weren't covered in enough detail or simply left hanging. (A conversation about this book with one of my bookish friends brought to light that she felt similarly.) I know you can end a book leaving a lot to the reader's imagination of how the story should continue and end, but in some instances here it just felt unfinished. 

The five different genres in the book were Mystery, Spy Thriller, Horror/Gothic, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. I'm giving Jane a pass for asking too many questions and being annoying in the Mystery story because I received an accompanying reading guide for the story that discusses each genre. For Mystery, it notes, "Protagonist discovers a mission to uncover the truth." So, overall, the Mystery wasn't bad. It gave us information and moved the story forward. The Spy Thriller was next, and that one filled in the gaps. Honestly, I felt like the story was essentially completed with those two. 

Next up was Horror/Gothic, and I just didn't like that one. This is probably because I don't read this genre. But I also felt it didn't really connect much with the storyline and nothing really happened. I was happy to move on the Science Fiction. Surprisingly, the Sci-Fi was probably my favorite. I wish we had gotten more of it! I would have liked to see other dimensions, and/or more inside the dimension Jane visited. However, I also felt like this one didn't advance or contribute to the storyline in any way. Finally, the Fantasy. This one tied everything together and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion, actually.

But back to the narration. I love Rebecca Soler and will pretty much listen to anything she reads. However, I think her reading of this story might have contributed to my not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. Her read of Jane was often irritable and snippy, and so was how she portrayed Mrs. Vanders. Kiran came off sounding like an airhead. I felt like listening to a conversation between Jane and Mrs. Vanders was just one big fight, and it was exhausting.

Jane, Unlimited was such a creative and unique story, read by one of my favorite narrators. I think a lot of my dissatisfaction came from personal preferences and dislikes, so overall, I would recommend that if you are interested, you give me a try. 

If you have read it, what was your favorite genre?

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