Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review #3: JANE by April Lindner

You can also find this review on Goodreads!

Title: JANE
Author: April Lindner
Publication Date: October 11th, 2010
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

WARNING: This shall contain some spoilers for this book, as well as for Jane Eyre.

Meh. Just ... meh. I didn't hate this book. I just ... didn't really like it, either.

Before I picked it up, I knew it was a retelling of Jane Eyre. But, for some reason I didn't know it was a modern-day retelling. Okay, I don't know what I thought it was going to be, to be honest. But anyway, I get the book out of the library and I see this on the back:

"What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rock star?"

Ummm. Okay?

Basically, in April Lindner's modern retelling of Charlotte Brontë's book, Jane is a nanny. She ends up getting hired to work for a has-been rock star who is attempting to make a comeback. And she falls in love with him.

Oops I mean ... Jane Eyre, right.

Well, okay. I think the premise could have worked, if it had been thoroughly thought-out and well-executed. Instead, it ended up feeling more like a story Lindner had made up, with an occasional event from Jane Eyre smacked into it.

I don't think it was a horrible idea or a horrible book. But, ultimately, it didn't feel like a whole-hearted attempt to me. So, here are my issues:

Jane was made into a dull character.

She was just so ... blah. It seemed like her whole life revolved around being obsessed with what's-his-face. (Sorry, I can't even remember his name. But, you know, the rock-star Mr. Rochester replacement. *Looks it up* Oh, Nico! That was it.) So yeah, she spent most of her time obsessing over Nico, and didn't seem to have many other personality traits or interests. Heck, she didn't even really spend time with Nico's kid. This girl she was supposed to be nannying, Maddy, was just there the whole book but they didn't have many interactions. Weird.

Also, she was one of those "I'm not like other teenage girls" type characters. Like, "Oh I don't pay attention to celebrity gossip! Oh, all I do is read! Oh, I'm so above everyone else and I hate fun!" ... Urgh.

The romance felt forced.

I couldn't find much of a reason why Jane was "in love" with Nico. It just happened out of the blue. One moment she was like, "Oh, what a stupid bastard." The next moment she was suddenly like, "Actually, I'M OBSESSED WITH HIM." There was very little development between those two steps. Nico mostly seemed like a jerk to me, and I didn't see why they liked each other so much. I was just like:

The story just didn't work in a modern setting.

Maybe it could have, but I don't think Lindner really tried to make it work. Most of it didn't make sense when it was set in present day.

For example, in the original Jane Eyre, Jane meets Mr. Rochester when he almost runs her over with a carriage (or maybe just with a horse, I don't really remember). And she doesn't know it's him, obviously, because she hasn't seen his face before. In Lindner's version, Nico almost runs over Jane with a car (of course), and she doesn't know it's him because ... Oh wait, WHY WOULDN'T SHE KNOW IT WAS HIM? In this version, he's famous. And before this event took place, Jane had spent hours going through every issue of People looking at photos of this guy's face––because she wanted to know who she was working for. So, uh ... Doesn't make much sense to me. She makes up some lame excuse about how she didn't recognize him because he looks different in person, but ... I feel like she would have at least suspected that it was him.

Then, we have the age difference between the two of them––which is like, 20+ years or something. I mean, yeah, that did gross me out a little bit when I read the original book. But, it was a different time period and I figured that type of thing was a bit more common. And no, I don't really have a problem with there being a large age difference between two people in a relationship. But, I kind of have a problem when it concerns a teenager. And in this case, it just kind of seemed like Nico was being a total creeper, having sex with his daughter's teenage nanny. Personally, it weirded me out, and I don't think it was as romantic by today's standards. But, maybe that's just me.

(Okay, SPOILER TIME. So if you don't like spoilers, skip the next two paragraphs.)

The other thing is the whole crazy-wife-in-the-attic problem. In the original, it made more sense. At the time, no one really understood mental illness or how to deal with people who were mentally unstable. It would make sense that Mr. Rochester wouldn't want to send away his wife to some asylum where they would torture her, or something like that. I mean, don't get me wrong––it's still not cool to have a crazy wife in your attic and not tell your girlfriend about it. But still, at least I can somewhat comprehend the logic, due to the time period.

In a modern-day setting, it just seemed like abuse, with no good reasoning behind it at all. Nico was all like, "Oh, I just don't want to send her to a mental institution or something! That would be horrible for her!" ... And uh, apparently it's not horrible for her to be locked in your attic, when instead she could be getting the help she needs––since that is actually possible nowadays? Sorry, but no. Just, no.


The book felt misplaced as YA.

Just because the main character is a teenager doesn't always mean the book has to be marketed as YA. And Jane is barely a teenager anyway; she's 19. I don't think there was a single other teenager in the book at all. A vast majority of the characters were adults, who dealt with adult issues. Not to mention, Jane Eyre isn't a kids' book, so ... I don't really understand the reasoning here.

I guess most adults wouldn't pick this up since more of them are probably acquainted with the original story. If you're an unsuspecting teenager and you don't really know what Jane Eyre is about ... well then, I don't know. Maybe you'd like this. But, I think it's that sort of marketing attitude that causes YA to get such a bad reputation––this idea that, "Heck, kids will read anything!" And sure, they will. But that doesn't mean that you have to give them lame books.

I suppose that's a rant for another time, though. So, back to this book.

Over all, I found it disappointing. It's not the worst thing I've ever read, and it was entertaining at times, but ultimately it was just a watered-down and not very good retelling of the original story. I recommend you skip this and go read Charlotte Brontë's version.

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