Title: This is not the Jess Show
Author: Anna Carey
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: 2 Feb 2021
Comment: I was given a free ecopy via Netgalley, Quirk books and the author which was, like, so totally da bomb. I was like, booyah!
The year is 1998: Titanic just won 6 Oscars, boy bands are dominating MTV’s airwaves, and like any other teenager Jess Flynn is just trying to survive high school.
Between a crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents, and her sister’s worsening health, the only constant is her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day. Jess is resigned to her small-town life, until the day she discovers a mysterious device with an apple logo, causing her to question everything and everyone she’s ever known.
As more cracks appear in Jess’s world, she faces a choice: can she live the rest of her life knowing it’s a lie or should she risk everything for the truth?
A fast-paced, mind-bending YA thriller packed with 90s pop culture references and perfect for fans of Black Mirror, This Is Not the Jess Show will keep readers guessing until the very end.
Jess Flynn feels like her whole world is off-kilter. First, her parents seem to ignore her whole existence unless she’s in trouble; her best friends are acting weird; the school heartthrob keeps trying to ask her out despite the fact she has zero interest in him, and her little sister’s health is deteriorating.
Add in her, suddenly requited, crush on her childhood best friend and all she wants is to lose herself in Alanis Morrisette.
But things are getting weirder. Suddenly her dog is not her dog, she can hear weird chanting, half the town appears to have disappeared and she knows her best friends are hiding something.
As the cracks start to appear in her idyllic small town, Jess is forced to decide if she wants to fight for the truth, or live the lie.
I was born in the 80s and raised in the 90s and FYI, this was like falling back in time.
Baby doll dresses, Clueless references, not being able to use the damn phone because someone was on the computer. I had some serious PTSD which came out like the modem screech.
I STILL call everyone “Dude”.
Aaaannd now I feel old.
This is not the Jess Show was pushed as a Black Mirror meets My So-Called life. I have to admit this confused me a bit. Surely, it’s The Truman Show for this generation? Although I suppose that might give the plot twists away.
Jess is no Angela Chase, moping about over her drama. She is bright, fun and capable and seems to have a good head on her shoulders.
I loved the way she didn’t accept the odd occurrences or simply brush them off. She tried to find answers however she could and she didn’t have any teen-angst about it all.
I found it such a refreshing change from the usual whining, demanding teen protagonists. Jess wasn’t going to let herself be manipulated but didn’t have to be a whiny brat to achieve her aims.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot as I think the fewer spoilers the better when it comes to a story like this. However, I had always wondered what happened to Truman and I got my answers in this book.
It was brought up to date and made extremely plausible utilising our own dependence on technology and the prevalence and popularity of reality shows.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It was engaging and amusing, had solid characters and truly enjoyable dialogue.
It was all that and a bag of chips. Now I’m buggin’, so let’s bounce.