Jane, Unlimited

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Jane, Unlimited Book Poster Image
Five offbeat, inventive stories in one wild mansion.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fine artists and their works mentioned, especially Brancusi, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. In the author's note, readers will discover the many influences here: the classic Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, true-crime novels on art theft, books on ocean photography, and the writings of Arthur C. Clarke. Plus mentions and excerpts of The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Some details on smallpox being used as a biological weapon in the French and Indian War. Some thought on the idea of parallel universes and a whole lot of thought about, and a diagram of, an umbrella and its parts.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about overcoming grief and betrayal and embracing your artistic side. Curiosity is usually rewarded here with adventure. Trusting others with secrets can bring hard truths but closer ties.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jane is thrust into five different timelines. Some require her bravery and smarts, others, her dedication to her art. She brings her curiosity and concern for others into all scenarios. The physicist in this book is British-Indian and a woman.

Violence

Man shot and bleeding to death, a woman's arm is crushed and mangled, another man is crushed to death, a dog is shot in the ear and bites the bad guys. Mention that Jane's parents died in a plane crash when she was a baby. The aunt who raises her freezes to death in Antarctica. Talk of biological weapons and a botched bank robbery. In a book being read, a beloved character is skinned alive.

Sex

Some quick kisses, straight and gay. Talk of Jane's older friend enjoying sex with her boyfriend. Joke about testicles drying up and many jokes about promiscuity of a male character.

Language

A mix of everything, from "damn" to "f---ing." Swearing often punctuates the dialogue.

Consumerism

Jane has Doctor Who PJs. Mention of the Muppets and Winnie the Pooh.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mr. Thrash smokes a pipe in a handful of scenes. Kiran, over 21, drinks whiskey and Pimm's. Free-flowing drinks at a gala.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jane, Unlimited is an inventive stand-alone book by Kristin Cashore, the acclaimed author of the Graceling Realm series. The main character, Jane, in her late teens, is recently orphaned by the aunt who raised her. Jane is told that her aunt froze to death in Antarctica. Her parents died in a plane crash when she was a baby. The story follows five possible story threads. They all contain a little violence, with occasional gunplay involved. A man and a dog are shot, the man fatally. A woman's arm is crushed and mangled, a man is crushed to death. A character is in a state between life and death at the end of one scenario. Swearing is consistent in the dialogue and includes "f--k." Jane is surrounded by adults drinking but doesn't drink. She kisses both male and female characters, briefly. It's less the mature content and more the complexity and originality of the storytelling that dictates the right reader for Jane, Unlimited. It's a good fit for teens with an artsy and literary bent swaying toward offbeat. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDarla Y. February 12, 2018

What a mess

This book was a headache. Poorly written and relied so heavily on strange and ridiculous to draw you into the story. No cohesion, I lost interest and forced mys... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJustAnotherTeenRead May 24, 2018

Loved this

While some may find this too out there, I was impressed with the authors imaginative scenarios. It was fascinating to read. the descriptions and characters were... Continue reading

What's the story?

In JANE, UNLIMITED, Jane is working in a book shop when she sees her old tutor, Kiran. When Kiran finds out that Jane's aunt and guardian has died in Antarctica, Kiran invites her to the family mansion to stay. Jane, a college dropout living with three grad students, immediately accepts the offer. The last promise she made to her aunt was that if she got an invitation to the mansion, a curious house on its own island in the Atlantic, she would not turn it down. She arrives there immediately after the invitation with all her things, including a flock of umbrellas she's been making in her spare time. The house is preparing for its annual gala, and some curious guests and residents are there. She meets Kiran's flirty twin brother, Ravi, the stern head housekeeper, Mrs. Vanders, art dealers, a doctor, the quirky and attractive Ivy, and a basset hound named Jasper who won't leave her alone. It only takes one night where she witnesses the doctor running off with a gun, and one morning, where Mrs. Vanders stares daggers at her, for her to realize the house is full of secrets. After breakfast she has to decide: Should she follow Mrs. Vanders, a little girl in the hall in distress, Kiran, Ravi, or the dog first to find out what's going on? Each path is explored independently, the story restarting completely after breakfast, and each path yields wildly different results.

Is it any good?

Art stealers and dealers, spies, sentient houses, parallel universes, uber-smart dogs, and lots of umbrellas all occupy one of the more inventive young adult novels you'll ever read. Luckily they don't all occupy the book at the same time, or at least not the way the main character, Jane, experiences the story. The story restarts after breakfast five times, each time heading in a totally different direction. And here's some of the genius of this multistory: While Jane is in one scenario, following spies, the house is still groaning about its secrets and the dog is still begging Jane to follow him. The reader has an awareness that they're only getting a part of this very complex puzzle and they're waiting to hear more with every story layer author Kristin Cashore delivers.

Jane, Unlimited isn't for everyone. It's one of those books that will be adored or panned, depending on the reader's openness to the offbeat and whether they reward or shun their favorite authors for taking real risks. This is nothing like the adored Graceling Realm series, fans. Prepare yourself first, and you will be rewarded with mini-velociraptors and so much more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which story ends best for Jane in Jane, Unlimited. What is left unexplored in this scenario? Which scenario ends the worst for Jane?

  • In the acknowledgements, the author talks about this book's genesis over four years, those that helped her realize the final book, and how. Does this give you insight into the writing process? Do you think all authors take this time and attention with each story?

  • This book is more challenging to read than the author's Graceling Realm series. Was it worth it? Did you enjoy it as much?

Book details

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Pages

For kids who love mysteries

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