It’s tea time ladies, because My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton, is not all that it’s hyped up to be. This novel is written in the third point of view with chapters from the three main characters.
My Plain Jane has been marketed as a comedic historical fiction retelling of some sorts, following Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, and Alexander Blackwood. So it sounds super fun and interesting, right? Well, it’s not that it wasn’t fun but it really wasn’t that interesting. The plot really fluctuated, but mainly followed Jane, Charlotte and Alexander trying to capture ghosts while also solving a bunch of random mysteries that really didn’t have much backstory. It was kind of a hot mess.
I think this novel tried to have too many genres and categories mixed in. It tried to be feminist while being paranormal and historical, but also focused a lot on romance, mysteries, money, and living in poverty. A lot of topics that authors choose one or two to write a novel on, and I think that muddled up the true plot line of the story. The fact that there were ghosts in this world really made no sense. It was never a surprising thing for any of the characters, it was like “oh yeah, ghosts”, which is fine for an author to do, but only if there is ample backstory in the novel, which was not present. For example, in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, the main character is introduced to the world of werewolves and vampires, so it’s easy to teach the readers about the world. This story really could’ve used that. Maybe have Charlotte not know about the hidden world of ghosts instead of making it just unexplained common knowledge in this world.
The one thing I did somewhat enjoy in this book were the characters. Charlotte was my favourite because she was the most developed out of the main three. She was seen as intelligent, witty and a great problem solver, and her character never strayed from those traits. Alexander on the other hand was viewed in different ways in basically every chapter of the book. Sometimes he was a broody man in the corner, others he was ugly and short, and when he was speaking there would be really random spots where he was literally another person. He would say something so random and weird it was like the authors forgot who was speaking in that moment. Jane wasn’t bad but she was really annoying. Most of the time she was super stubborn and blinded by her love interest (which I won’t even get into because it’s too cringey) but other times, she showed odd bits of affection towards her ghost friend (insert eye-roll emoji) that seemed out of place.
The last thing I really struggled with in this book was the writing. It was just so weak. They decided to address the reader specifically, but they did so in a way that almost seemed demeaning. The sections would be like “reader, this is what a certain object was in this century” which was SO annoying. I really hated those bits, and it made this book super juvenile. It’s supposed to be a young adult novel which is basically 14 and up, but I would’ve marketed it as a middle grade novel (9-12). I think 10 year old me would’ve loved this book, but 18 year old me wants to throw it out the window… or donate it to a used bookstore.
This review was so easy to write because I had a lot of feelings towards this novel. But I did really want to love it! I got it in a book subscription box I used to buy, Owlcrate, which I do highly recommend any book lovers try out!. My Plain Jane might not have been the book for me, but it might be for you! If you want to still give it a try, let me know what you think!