Jane Unlimited

Image result for 9780803741492By: Kristin Cashore
Location: FIC CAS
Genre: Fantasy

If you could change your story, would you?

This was a bizarrely delightful puzzle box of a book and I enjoyed every second of it.
Part Gothic mystery, part choose your own adventure, Jane, Unlimited is full of more stories than should possibly be able to be contained in a single novel. Jane is feeling lost in the world. Her beloved guardian aunt recently died, and she's dropped out of college, which leaves her drifting. She is grieving, and doesn't know where her life is going to lead her next. And then she gets invited to Tu Reviens, an island mansion, and she is faced with a choice that will drastically alter her life, no matter what decision she makes.

From the very beginning, I knew this book would be special. It is unbelievably odd, but fits together so many stories in a way that is always unexpected. With each choice Jane makes, she is thrust not only into a different version of her life, but also into a different genre. From a fast-paced spy thriller to a psychological horror story to a science-fiction adventure, each version of Jane's life is absolutely unique. And the most impressive part is how they all fit together, how you can see details from each different choice carried across the stories. They read as individual concepts, while also being detailed and layered enough to see the connections between them. I think my favorite was the second story, "Lies Without Boarders", but I really feel like every story has something completely unique to offer.

The most striking element of this book is Jane. She is processing grief, trying to figure out where her life is going next, and reconciling her relationship with her aunt. She's creative, and has a passion for making unusual umbrellas. She's also branching out and trying to make new connections through the entire book. Some are platonic and some that are potentially romantic. There's just so much to Jane as a character. And the side characters are also all incredible! My favorites are Kiran, Jane's old tutor, and Ivy, a girl who works at Tu Reviens and is a love interest for Jane. But while these two are my favorite, this book is absolutely bursting with other fascinating side characters.

I think the thing that pulled me in first was the fact that it is, on occasion, effortlessly nerdy.There's a conversation in the first section about favorite companions in Doctor Who, little asides about Harry Potter, and Ivy is mentioned as having a Lord of the Rings ringtone on her phone. These little moments endeared me to Ivy, and later to Jane as she is thrown into various situations, usually while she's still wearing her TARDIS pajama pants.

There's so much more I could gush about, like the fact that the beginning feels like you've been dumped into an Agatha Christie novel, or how well the different story threads about art are threaded through the book, or Jane having a crush on another girl and it's just so normalized that I could cry. Not only that, but her being attracted to a man is also mentioned but that in no way leads to a story about questioning sexuality. Jane likes Ivy. Jane also maybe kind likes Ravi. I was utterly captivated by how sexuality was included without ever being made a central theme. Of course, if you know me as a reader, I live for sexuality being the main point of a story. But to have a bizarre, gothic, adventure novel and just let the main character be effortlessly queer? It made me hope for the future of YA.

I just absolutely loved every part of this book, and I can't wait to revisit it in the future. It is definitely a book made for rereading.
 
 
 

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