I’m not a big fantasy reader, but one of the fantasy writers I love is Kristin Cashore. Her Graceling Realm companion books are YA classics filled with amazing worldbuilding and memorable characters. I was intrigued when I heard that she was writing something that wasn’t fantasy. I’m not sure what genre to call this — it’s genre-bending, for sure.
by Kristin Cashore
To be published on September 19, 2017 by Kathy Dawson Books
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads): Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia. 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.
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.
Review: Jane, Unlimited
I really enjoy a book that tries something new and innovative, and Jane, Unlimited definitely does. The book starts off as a story about an orphaned young girl who is taken in by a family who lives in a rambling old mansion. The book includes some of the requisite gothic elements: the stern housekeeper, strange omens and portents, and an air of mystery.
As Jane tries to get to the bottom of the mysterious goings-on in the house, the the book splits into multiple narratives in different genres. So, as Jane investigates each aspect of the mystery, the book branches into a new genre. There’s a mystery section, a sci-fi section and a fantasy/paranormal section. This seems at once like a nod to the multiverse (which the book alludes to) and a sort of sly wink at 1980s-era Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Taken alone, I felt that some of the sub-sections worked better than others. But they also built on each other (you read them one after the other – this is not a true CYOA book where you skip around). And I liked what (I think ) the book was trying to say about the nature of life, and choice, and storytelling choices.
Weirdly, this is the second book in a month I’ve read that uses a CYOA format AND that also has a “Jane” title — I reviewed Young Jane Young last week.
This is not a quick and easy read, but I think it’s a worthwhile one!