Monday, October 04, 2021

A Book That Tears Up Some YA Cliches

Last Friday, October 1, I began a new writing group program with a Facebook group I've belonged to for a couple of years. We create a couple of temporal landmarks a year by setting aside a month for a specific writing project.  This month I'll be working on that mysterious YA mystery I keep talking about here. And today I'm posting about a mysterious YA book I recently read.

A number of books have covered people unaware of the world they're living in or unaware that they are being used for the entertainment of others  (notice how I'm not telling you much here?), but This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey does it particularly well. Even if you end up hearing some of what this book is about before reading it (it has been out since February), there's a genre-bending twist, and a bit of a surprise in the ending. 

A real ending, people. As I was getting closer and closer to the end of the book, my anxiety level was going up and up, because I was so sure this was going to be the first in a serial. What a delight to get to that last screen (I read an e-book) and get a satisfying resolution. I think there may be an opening for a sequel, but not in a serial, you've-got-to-read-another book sort of way. 

This Is Not The Jess Show starts out with a very traditional teen girl craving romance. She is a traditional teen girl with two best friends. She has a traditional family tragedy looming over her. I will be honest and say those are not my favorite things to read about. But then author Carey blows all of those out of the water. A really impressive job.

There's also some well done, subtle, commentary relating to technology and society going on here, a la Black Mirror. In fact, I believe there are some scenes similar to a Black Mirror episode. Which is not a complaint. Just saying, if you like Black Mirror, consider reading This Is Not The Jess Show. And if you like This Is Not The Jess Show, consider catching some episodes of Black Mirror.

I would also like to say that I think Carey makes the situation in her book believable with that genre twist I mentioned above. Well done. 

Here's a question you might be left with after reading this book: Why does our culture find death and grieving entertaining?

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