Thank you to Quirk Books for providing a review copy of This is Not the Jess Show
When I was approached by Quirk Books about This is Not the Jess Show – I decided to read it without reading the description or anything about it. I only knew that it was a YA thriller written by Anna Carey (who you might know from the Eve trilogy). In hindsight, that was definitely the best way to approach this book – there are some excellent twists that are best left unspoiled (and I’ll do my best not to spoil them in this review).
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.
The pacing of This is Not the Jess Show was a little uneven at the beginning of the story. While the stage was being set and the world was being built (though it was good world building) at the beginning of the book, the story was pretty slow. It wasn’t until Jess started noticing the cracks and inconsistencies in her life that the story really picked up pace. Trust me, you won’t want to put this book down – I read it all in one sitting. From that point the book really turned into a thriller – there were plenty of action scenes and heart pounding moments. I also loved all of the 90s nostalgia this book had – it was a fun light element to an otherwise action packed, mind bending thriller.
I really liked Jess as a character – when the story started, she was an average 90s teen in an average family. She had a sick sister, who she adored, and two best friends who were pretty much her entire social life. As her world started to fall apart, and she started questioning her relationships, she really started to grow as a character. By the end of the book she had grown brave and capable, able to survive her new normal.
This is Not the Jess Show is an excellent YA thriller – it has great world building, plenty of heart pounding action, and plenty of 90s references. I can’t wait for the second part of this duology – I need to know what happens next. If you’re looking for other YA thrillers, check out One of Us is Lying or We Were Liars. 4/5