YA Jane Eyre Retellings in Review

June 23, 2021 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

YA Jane Eyre Retellings in ReviewTitle: Jane, Unlimited
Author: Kristin Cashore
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I’ve included this book in my Jane Eyre retellings post because I picked it up expecting it to be one. That’s not entirely accurate however. It’s more like a story that contains a bunch of tiny little references to both Jane Eyre and a number of other classics. The primary similarity to Jane Eyre is that we have a plain, outspoken heroine named Jane who will be staying with wealthier friends as a dependent. Shortly after Jane arrives at her friend’s mysterious house, she’s offered a choice of five clues she could follow up on. The book then breaks into five short stories each in a different genre. They appear to be alternate possible futures, following from Jane’s choice. The overlap between the stories, combined with some vivid writing, helped develop a strong sense of place and well-rounded characterizations.  With the exception of one story that was much too bleak, I had a lot of fun reading all of them. Even the horrifying one had a forward momentum I enjoyed. Some of the stories weren’t believable to me, because people’s motivations weren’t convincing. However, what keeps me from rating this higher is that it lacked depth. The author did an impressive job writing satisfying short stories in 50-80 pages, but from a book, I wanted more development of one story or for the stories to at least reconnect.

As an aside, I had missed how easy it is to fly through YA! This was not in any way a poorly done or poorly written story. The structure was quite clever and I could see it appearing in literary fiction. But the straightforward writing and a fictional story I wasn’t trying to learn anything from gave my brain a much-needed vacation.

YA Jane Eyre Retellings in ReviewTitle: My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)
Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

This book was a delight! I loved the way the authors’ refreshed Jane Eyre to pull in both supernatural elements and Charlotte Bronte as one of the characters. The way they reworked the source material, hitting most of the major plot beats, was brilliant. Jane felt more overly emotional than in the original, but I think that’s consistent with how she’d have appeared to readers when the book was published. Bronte’s character also felt largely consistent with biographical details I know. All of these connections between both the original and the Bronte bio meant this felt full of easter eggs for the reader who was paying attention. The authors’ asides to the reader and the attempt to tell the story in a modern, conversational way were a mixed bag. I loved the authors’ commentary on the outdated or over-the-top gothic elements of the original. It was like revisiting that material and laughing over it with a friend. As a reader, I also enjoyed the asides related to books. Other places where the parenthetical digressions explained historical info were too didactic. The authors also used direct quotes from other pop culture franchises and references to modern day events in their narration and dialogue. When these reference were subtle, I loved them. Others led to dialogue that felt wrong and forced and I hated those. I think the type of humor in this book was always going to be a difficult balance. Some of it worked for me and some of it didn’t. Regardless, this was a fun romp and a delightful take on the original.

I also had a ton of fun reading this book. In another aside, I guess I’ve decided to use half-stars in my rating. I enjoyed this a lot more than Jane Unlimited, but it’s not quite on par with my other 4 star reads. Too many annoying little quirks! I’ve found myself torn between ratings before and typically make myself decide, but I’m going to try rating with a little more granularity and see how I like it.

2 Responses to “YA Jane Eyre Retellings in Review”

    • DoingDewey

      Delightful was the word I kept coming back to for this one! There were a few little things about the style that didn’t quite land for me, but I found other parts really funny and I had a lot of fun reading it 🙂

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