Jane, Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore
Publish Date: September 19, 2017
Published by: Kathy Dawson Books
Genre: YA Fiction/Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an ARC at BookCon2017 in return for an honest review.**
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.
Where to start with this book? It is surprising, strange, and completely engrossing. It’s a mystery, a thriller, it’s fantastical, haunting – it’s completely out-of-this-world. And I loved it.
To be quite honest, I was not sure I was even interested in reading this book. The summary of it just didn’t pique my interest – oh wow another YA girl who randomly gets to go to some rich peoples’ place and suddenly has a revelation or more about herself. Because apparently only being surrounded by riches and having nothing to do can make someone understand themselves for the first time or something. Anyway, I picked up an ARC of it at BookCon (my friend and I were getting one for another friend of ours who loves Kristen Cashore, but we both accidentally picked up one) and figured, well, let’s see what all the fuss is about. Worst that happens is, I don’t like it and pass it on to someone who will.
To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. At first, I was surprised by how I was drawn in by Jane’s circumstances – sure I’ve seen the YA protagonist who doesn’t know what their future is like or has a sad family thing going on, but usually it all rectifies itself before they leave for college (or at least there is hope or something of the like). This book is taking place after Jane has dropped out of college, having discovered that what she thought she wanted to do in life was not actually what she wanted anymore, and having to struggle to make ends meet on a part-time job salary after her guardian Aunt Magnolia passed away. I’m not going to lie, I was a little shocked – it’s not often that we see this type of character with these given circumstances in a story (especially one that is being marketed to teens). And then there is Kiran, her acquaintance who invites her to her family home, Tu Reviens, who, despite knowing multiple languages and having inherited money, is also struggling to discover what she really wants to be in life. It was jarring to see these types of characters struggling with these issues respectively, but pleasantly so. (And then the bunch of art nerds showed up and I was even more happy and intrigued.)
What makes this book unique, though, is the format of it. It’s split up into six different sections, with the first being a sort of prelude to all of the other five. At first I was nervous that I wouldn’t like it at all – as soon as I saw that each section was going to start at the same point as Jane made a decision, I was afraid that I would end up reading the same exact thing over and over again with only slight differences. Well, there were differences – but they weren’t slight in the least. There are multiple layers to this book, each one taking center stage in their respective sections while alluding to the others in miniscule ways, and each one is engrossing and easily captivating. This book can easily become an every-person sort of book, because it literally has a little bit of everything in it. Mystery, thriller, a little bit of romance, and then some (I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say, things progressively get more and more interesting and otherworldly with each consecutive section), all converging in this novel as Jane makes one decision after another that help lead her to understanding who she is and who she wants to be.
The characters are all strong and full of life, easily understandable and relatable, and are consistent in their overall characterizations throughout. They go through a lot of personal growth – particularly Jane and Kiran – during each of the five decision-sections, and in ways that are both unique to each situation but also constant and similar throughout. I loved loved loved Jasper – he was just the cutest thing ever – and really enjoyed Jane’s interactions with Ivy. I think the only character I was not a huge fan of was Mrs. Vanders – she was constantly confusing and kind of all over the place whenever she talked to Jane, sometimes seemingly open about a topic and then other times completely tightlipped. I understand why she acted this way about certain topics, but man was it frustrating.
Honestly, this book was just kind of mind-blowing. It took the idea of what happens when one makes a decision and what the consequences of it are, and ran with it beautifully. Each section built up the layers of this story, creating a new and amazing story with each decision Jane made, and really made for a great read. This is a book that is definitely going to stick in my mind for a while, and although I can’t say for sure that everyone will enjoy it like I did, it is still something I would absolutely recommend to others.