My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2)

Write on: Mon, 09 Jul 2018 by  in Kat's Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 2196

Rating: 3/5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Retellings, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Oh boy, this is going to be awkward.

Disclaimer: I loved My Lady Jane. Every time I think of this marvel of a book a huge grin takes over my face. And, partially, that's the reason I may be too harsh on My Plain Jane (well this and my slow but steady transformation to a judgy old lady that is too difficult to please). I really wanted to love it. I expected to love it. I'm afraid, though, that My Plain Jane was exactly what the title promised. Plain.

“Northern England, 1834, and the aforementioned penniless, orphaned girl. And a writer. And a boy with vendetta.

Let's start with the girl.

Her name was Jane.”

➸ Add to the description ghosts, a not-so-secret organization that relocates said ghosts to talismans - and occassionally to the other side - (say hello to the Royal Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits), a murder or two, a seriously creepy estate, and that's your story. Oh, let's not forget it's a Jane Eyre retelling. There is your girl, Jane, who is the plainest of them all (in the human world, because the ghosts ask her for skin care tips. Because yes, she can see ghosts, talk to ghosts, even become friends with them). There is also Charlotte Brontë (the Charlotte Brontë), another plain girl, always holding a notebook and her glasses, an aspiring writer that switches genres once or twice (or maybe five times but who cares) and keeps poking her nose in everyone's business. And finally, there is Alexander Blackwood, the star agent of the Royal SRWS (see above) whose mind is constantly occupied by two thoughts: how to best serve the dwindling Society, and avenge his father's death. It all started in a shady pub, featuring a not-so-helpful assistant and a mysterious pocket watch. Then Jane's journey brings her to Thornfield Hall, a charming and welcoming house where piercing screams wake you up in the middle of the night and arsons go unnoticed, and the master is none other than the dark and brooding Mr. Rochester, who may be bipolar but Jane falls for him anyway, because why not, with Alexander following suit because he wants to hire Jane and Charlotte also following suit because meddling is her second nature (maybe first, who knows). And then things escalate quickly. There are possessions, conspiracies, spirits, castles (palaces), pirates and everything your heart desires. Well, maybe not everything.

➸ For starters, I must publically admit that I haven't read Jane Eyre (yes yes shame on me, I can practically hear Septa Unella ringing her bell somewhere), so on the bright side the story was not particularly predictable for me (the only thing I recall from the movie is a very dashing Michael Fassbender and that's all). And, like My Lady Jane, the pop-culture references (The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter, to name a few) were highly entertaining. And...that's it. No swooning, no piglike laughter, not the heavy dose of mirth I expected. I did enjoy it, of course, but I missed the spark (and the horse) that marked My Lady Jane as a truly unique, hilarious, adventurous and romantic novel. It felt like I experienced everything through the looking glass, the senses were not heightened, the vision was blurred, the heart didn't falter. And I can attribute it to two main reasons:

The humor fell flat and strained. The authors put too much effort into creating witty retorts that didn't turn out that witty. They were downright silly. Once more, I can't help but compare it to its predecessor: there, the humor felt natural, an integral part of the narration and the dialogues. Here, it was forced, the product of too much thinking instead of instinct. It had its moments, though, and that was its saving grace. Well, that and the supernatural element, because the departed were actually smarter than the living and more fun. Which brings us to the next issue:

Most of the characters were extremely, I-want-to-punch-you-in-the-face-then-strangle-you annoying. Our plain Jane's brain was clouded by misplaced love for a great part of the book, and for the rest she kept refusing to join the Society without good reason. And speaking of reason, this word wasn't in her vocabulary, along with the term "common sense". Everyone, living and dead, pointed out the oddity of Mr. Rochester's behaviour. Did she listen to them? No. Did she melt when he gave her attention and forget all the times he mistreated her? Yes. See? No common sense. She was simply a lovestruck girl that grew a backbone in the last pages. And then there was Charlotte. I hated her. So much. What others called curiosity, I call it gossip. She forced her way into the Society even though she lacked the most basic skill, simply because she wanted it and thought she would be good at it. A little presumptuous, aren't we? She kept intervening in affairs that did not immediately concern her, she was the worst kind of intrusive. And dear Charlotte, I have news for you: we all know that Bran had good intentions when he screwed everything up (even though, to be honest, being this clumpsy and prone to mistakes is simply unrealistic); Sam Winchester had also good intentions when he drank demon blood and listened to Ruby, but he ended up starting the freaking Apocalypse. See my point? And finally, Alexander. I had a itty tiny crush on him at first, but eventually I got over it. He was an intriguing character, with so much potential, but he didn't ignite any flames like I hoped. Which brings us to the romance, or the lack thereof.

➸ Well, aside from the oh so icky relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester (and I'm not talking about the age gap), there was another love story on the making, and I couldn't care less about it. There were no signs of romantic feelings until the very end, and I just couldn't root for these characters to be together. And that made me angry because the premise promised me a sweeping romance (like the Other Jane and G - cue swooning) but this one? I would be more interested in reading about the weather.

➸ The way I see it, the authors deconstructed a classic story, but unfortunately didn't manage to reconstruct something wholesome. Their attempt was creative, and definitely fun, but there were gaps and patches instead of a polished, laugh-out-loud, toe-curling work like the ones I know for a fact they can deliver.

Last modified on Monday, 09 July 2018 15:35

There are two things Katerina can't live without; books and chocolate. And since she needs money to acquire them, she decided to become a lawyer (and she still wonders whether this was a good idea). When she's not reading, she keeps wishing she was reading, about wars, wizards, dark princes and great romances. Her favorite genres are Fantasy (both YA and Adult) and Contemporary Romance.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.