Review: Jane by April Lindner

JaneHow did I get it? Bought

Genre: YA, Romance, Retelling

Summary: Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

My Thoughts

I really, really, really wanted to love Jane. I read Jane Eyre at the end of this past November and adored it, so I was really looking forward to this. But unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed.

Mind you, I still enjoyed it. The author obviously knew the book well and she very rigidly stuck to the original, which I appreciate to an extent. Jane was a decent protagonist and I liked the spin on her background.

But there were definitely some things that didn’t work for me.

1.) Nico

First of all, Nico? Of all the names in the galaxy, Nico? Rathburn as a surname was fine, but whether or not Nico is fitting as a “rockstar name,” I just couldn’t see it. The name sounds fake, a teensy bit sleazy, and, in my opinion, ridiculous.

Nico’s characterization also didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t buy his personality at all, and he’s nothing at all like Rochester. It felt like Rochester’s words were simply shoved into his mouth; he has none of the passion, the rawness, the haunted edge. He’s older than Jane (30-ish, I think) but he still came off to me as very two-dimensional and with none of the jaded, gruff attitude of the original man. Rochester is NOT some “emo” artist with mood swings; I kept sticking the two side by side, picturing a broad, dark man in period clothing next to a skinny 20-year-old in black with his jeans around his knees, silver chains hanging off every appendage, jagged dyed-black hair, and thick eyeliner. And I couldn’t see it in the character.

2.) Marriage

Okay, this was really bizarre to me. Jane and Nico (God, it weirds me out every time I say his name) fall in love and are in front of a priest within 3 weeks. I’m sorry, what? Not only is it unrealistic, but Jane was very sheeplike about it. “Okay, he’s throwing marriage at me. Yeah, okay, I’ll do it, whatevs.” It really weakened her as a character for me. It felt like they’d barely had time to develop a relationship before they were whipping out rings and the L-word. But oh no, the absurdity of this whirlwind affair is totally normal apparently.

What bugged me the most was the fact that the more stretched-out timeline in the book was cut down to under a month, while Jane’s relationship with St. John is giving what adds up to about a year of development, and that was just for them to become more-than-friends and go to Haiti together, nevermind marriage.

Also, Nico is apparently offering to propose to Bianca/Blanche within a week or two of knowing her through a photoshoot, and this isn’t thought odd at all? Jane seems to think it’s perfectly normal for things like that to happen so quickly, which would explain why she’s so willing to marry a guy she doesn’t have much of a relationship with after like a month.

It all just felt very unbelievable to me and I couldn’t buy into it at all.

3.) Plot Problems

I’m really grateful to the author for doing her best to keep the plot as close to the original as possible, but in some ways that was a bit of a let-down. For one, some social situations in Jane Eyre just wouldn’t work in modern society. The issue of Jane having to leave because of her employer’s impending marriage isn’t the same problem now as it would’ve been. Originally, Jane had to leave because a new wife meant Adèle had to go away to boarding school; it would’ve been inappropriate otherwise. Obviously that would be sort of weird to basically say, “I’m the new wife, kick the stepkids out now” in today’s world, so the author chooses to say that Jane has to leave because Bianca “doesn’t like her”. And she’s really adamant about it. It felt like a very flimsy excuse to me and it also brought up the issue of Bianca’s character, which Nico fails to address.

The plot as a whole, while comfortably familiar, took very few risks and felt too much like the author was just plugging in solutions she’d come up with. Obviously I knew the original plot, so I was expecting to know the gist of it, but there were no surprises or unexpected twists that made it new and refreshing and exciting, which took some of the fun out of it for me.

In conclusion…

I did enjoy reading this, as a Jane Eyre fan, but it just didn’t work for me. Jane was the only person with any real depth, although Nico had a few moments, and it didn’t quite pull it off. Not to say that it’s a bad book, but I think it could’ve been better. I will say that I am still a fan of the idea of it, Rochester being a rockstar and Jane his nanny.

(Aside: I’m a terrible person for saying this, but I was very disappointed that Nico wasn’t blinded in the end. I loved that scene in the book; it was so bittersweet and romantic and I just wanted to hug Rochester, but instead Nico just has a messed-up hand that can be fixed with physical therapy. Laaame.)

Rating:

Three Stars

Recommend it?

Sure.

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble | AmazonBook Depository

Review: Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

Another Little Piece of My HeartHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Harlequin Teen), and then I bought it on Barnes & Noble

Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary

Summary: What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

My Thoughts

I had a great time reading this last week. It was a great retelling and even though I didn’t stop hating Jared until more than halfway into the book, I did enjoy the connection between him and Claire. They had a lot of problems but the little things that brought them together, like “hun” and other inside jokes, made me love them together.

And also, I knew I was going to at least like this book, if not love it, because I love a modern retelling of Persuasion about as much as I love chocolate and kittens, just on principle. It’s my favorite Austen novel (with Pride and Prejudice at a close second), so I expected to enjoy this, and I did.

However, that being said, while I enjoyed a lot of things about this novel, there were two aspects of it that turned me off.

1.) Claire whines.

I mean, I wouldn’t say excessively, but she’s clearly throwing a pity party most of the time and while I get that her life is pretty much awful and she’s had a gigantic heap of huge disappointments in the past two years, it kind of grated on my nerves at times. It’s a small complaint though and in the end, it didn’t bother me that much.

2.) Zach

I can deal with minors smoking and drinking and going at it like bunnies. It’s not model behavior, sure, but I can live with reading about it. But there is a scene which made me very uncomfortable, and Claire’s reaction to that scene made me even more so. Despite having come very close to being raped (and yes, it is rape if a girl says “no” and “stop” like 4 times, which apparently some people haven’t gotten the memo about), Claire completely brushes it off and gives the man “the benefit of the doubt”, and then literally nothing happens. No consequences, no confrontation, nothing. And that was a big issue for me. I would be fine with the scene itself if Claire had gotten angry, if she’d done anything rather than the “we were drunk, forget it” routine. Even the most intoxicated person can understand the word “no”. But I was very bothered that the author introduced such a sensitive topic and then had the protagonist downplay it. It was only mentioned once in passing after the scene, and I was just baffled. Claire, you were drunk with a man taking off your clothes and touching you despite the fact that you didn’t want him to and you repeatedly told him to stop. You are supposed to be more bothered by that. And also it just plays into this idea that when someone tries to rape you, it’s not a big deal and you should just get over it.

Conclusion

I really did love this novel, and I would be giving it a higher rating if it weren’t for the second issue I just mentioned. Maybe it won’t bother other readers, but I was very disturbed by that scene and it ruined the rest of the novel for me a little bit, which is why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5. Other than that, however, this was a great, fun, well-written retelling that I’m glad I read.

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Definitely.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon