Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn

I read about this somewhere that I now can’t remember, but their description drew me in: A fantasy/sci-fi re-telling of Jane Eyre. Obviously, I was hooked then and there.

I got this one out from the library last week and naturally devoured it. So good! You all know the story of Jane Eyre, I assume, so I won’t get into a detailed plot summary of this one…

Jenna Starborn reviewJenna is born in an artificial womb, commissioned by a wealthy woman who believes she cannot conceive. A few years later, she bears a son and Jenna falls into the shadows. She lives with her ‘aunt’ until the age of 10, when her neglect and mistreatment comes to the attention of medical practitioners. She is given the choice to attend a scientific boarding school on another planet, and jumps at the chance. She goes to school here and gives herself the last name Starborn, as many who were born in artificial environments do. She then works as a teacher at the institution for a few years until she becomes restless. She begins looking around for suitable positions and finds a job on yet another planet as a nuclear technician, responsible for the maintenance and repair of a generator for a private estate. Here she meets and falls in love with Everett Ravenbeck, owner of the estate. But Everett is hiding something… and the rest of the plot you’ll recognize from Jane Eyre.

I thought this was a really unique book, and Shinn tailored Bronte’s classic story to fit Jenna and her world very well. I loved that Jenna played a unique role in the Ravenbeck household (not that of tutor to a child), and yet was still an integral part of the household. Ravenbeck’s ward, Ameletta, has a tutor named Janet who, in a very Austen-esque turn of events, runs off with a wealthy man and ‘ruins her reputation’ so to speak. I thought that part of the plot was an odd inclusion but after thinking about it I realize that it did serve a purpose. I love how Shinn incorporated movement between planets, and the time it took to make those trips — it was a good parallel to the original story. There were a few parts of the book that I felt really dragged, because they were almost following Bronte’s plot by rote (it seemed to me), but they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book. I really enjoyed this both as a sci-fi novel and as  Bronte para-literature.

I was amazed to discover that Shinn has written many books, and does her writing evenings and weekends because she holds down a full-time job! Whooee, that is amazing.

I haven’t been doing that well at keeping up with things here (as you may have noticed). I have read quite a few books over the past few months that I haven’t yet written about. Right now, I’m reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini and I gotta tell ya, I’m struggling to get through it. I wanted to see what all the hype is about but I don’t know if I will make it through this  book, let alone the entire series.

I also read Griffin’s Shadow by Leslie Ann Moore, sequel to Griffin’s Daughter. It was pretty good. I will probably read the third one in this series too, at some point.

So there you have it. We are getting closer to being caught up!

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Jane by April Lindner

Well I finished reading this modern-day adaptation of Jane Eyre last week. Let me preface this by saying I LOVE Jane Eyre. It is one of my favourite books ever and especially lately: I have probably read it 4 or 5 times a year for the past three years. (Though, I’m not going to lie, a few of those times I skip a lot of the very beginning, and start when Jane gets to Lowood).

Jane  April Lindner book reviewJane (the book) is set in present day, and begins as Jane (the character) is forced to quit university when her parents die. She has two siblings, both considerably older than her, who do not offer to support her continued education. Jane has to find a job, so she applies at a nanny service. She gets a position as a nanny for the daughter of a rich rock star. The story is fairly true to Jane Eyre so if you’ve read that book, you know what happens. 🙂

I thought that Lindner did a good job of modernizing the part of the book where Jane leaves Thornfield for her period of self-imposed exile. I don’t want to give too much away, since this is part of the book I was very pleasantly surprised by.

I didn’t super-love Jane Moore as a character. I found that she wasn’t as strong as Jane Eyre was, in some ways, but she did an admirable job as a stand-in. I also didn’t completely believe that Nico (aka Rochester) could fall in love with this Jane, but once their romance started it seemed a bit more believable.

Lindner did some other really clever things in the modernization. In Jane Eyre, when Jane leaves Thornfield she has no money and won’t say where she’s from so she essentially has no way of getting a job. These days, if a person had been working for several months it’s highly unlikely that she wouldn’t have any money. Lindner gets around that by writing that Jane doesn’t want to access her bank account because she knows she can be tracked down that way; same with using her cell phone.

Overall it was a very clever re-telling. It’s no Jane Eyre, but it was an entertaining read.