Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely YA thriller about separating fact from fiction–and how far we’ll go to create our own version of reality.
Like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama … but drama seems to keep finding her. Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents cramping her social life, and her younger sister’s worsening health, the only constant is change–and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.
Swickley is getting weirder by the day, too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device–with an apple logo on it–falls out of her best friend’s backpack and lands at Jess’s feet.
Title: This is Not the Jess Show (This is Not the Jess Show, #1)
Author: Anna Carey
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
I didn’t expect this book to be what it was. I think I expected it be more sci-fi and less contemporary. But I still enjoyed it for the most part.
I was intrigued from page one. Weird things were happening around Jess; people wouldn’t whisper around her, but not answer her questions, no one believed her when she said she was hearing things or that her dog wasn’t her dog. Strange things were happening and I was just as eager as Jess to figure out what those things were. Well, the answer to what’s happening is revealed about halfway through the book. Honestly, it wasn’t quite as exciting as what I was expecting. I thought it would be more sci-fi than it was, but it was still kinda crazy.
This book also taught a good lesson on what’s most important in life. Nearly everyone in Jess’s life sacrificed their relationships, including lifelong relationships with her, for fame and fortune. It was a good reminder to put family and friends before money and power.
A couple of things I didn’t love about this book was the second half of this book and the romance. Okay. I didn’t hate everything about this second half of this book, but I do have lots of thoughts about it.
First, the pacing and intrigue kinda went down for me. Although there was still a great deal of adventure and danger in the second half, things just felt slower. Also, since the mystery of all the weirdness from the first half of the book was over, some of that intrigue left for me too. It just felt like the second half of the book was the aftermath of decisions from the first half.
I also think the romance was not too great. Jess goes through a couple of romantic relationships in this book and both feel…off. The first I will not discuss for spoiler reasons, but the second feels super rushed. And kinda like, “You’re the only one I trust so we might as well fall in love.” I didn’t love that.
As well, I think this book could have been made into one book rather than a series. I’m not really sure the direction this series is taking or how the next book might play out because I feel like everything that was going to happen, happened. But I guess we’ll see. Maybe the author still has some tricks up her sleeve.
Overall, this book was fun and thrilling, and interesting through most of it. I’m still undecided on whether I’ll read the second, but I don’t have to worry about that for a while.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.