Book Review: Jane, Unlimited

Jane, Unlimited
Cashore, Kristin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Jane's parents died when she was quite young, but she never felt like an orphan due to the amazing parenting skills of her quirky Aunt Magnolia. When Aunt Magnolia heads off to a photography expedition to Antartica never to return, Jane feels unmoored. She drops out of college and continues her dead end job at the university bookstore. When a surprise visit from an old friend results in an invitation to a mysterious mansion, Tu Reviens, Jane jumps on the chance to experience something new. Not only that, but Aunt Magnolia has told her to NEVER turn down an opportunity to visit the enigmatic island retreat, and Jane is eager to learn more about Magnolia's connection to the place.

That was a hard synopsis to write, as this is a book that somewhat defies description. The book starts off as kind of an Agatha Christie meets Jane Eyre meets John Fowler's the Magus, and then quickly turns into an almost Whitehead inspired choose your own adventure. Jane makes the same choice several times with different consequences each time, and the result is a compilation of strange, horrifying, thrilling and delightful stories and plot twists. Cashore's storytelling abilities are on full display here as she seamlessly weaves together a number of different genres. Character development, while it seems like it would be secondary, is also an integral part of the story. I loved all of the side characters (some of them almost eclipse Jane), and would read an entire book about almost any of them.

Jane, Unlimited is a book that I'll reread in a year or so, because there was a lot of intricate plotting and connections that I'm sure that I missed. I actually don't think I've ever read something quite like this, and that's saying something because I read a lot. The unique format of the book was attractive to me, though I can see it being frustrating for some readers; it's not until Jane makes her second choice that you really start to realize what is happening. If you read this book (and you should), I'd say just relax and enjoy the ride - it's a wonderfully weird one. I can't wait to see the art in the final copy, as I think that the right images before certain stories will add to the peculiar ambiance that permeates the book.

The ending felt both forced and rushed to me, but I think I'll enjoy it more the second time around (as I said earlier, this book practically demands to be reread). I almost loved this one, and now I really can't wait to see what Cashore comes up with next. 4.5 stars.

I received a free copy of this eBook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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