Cover Image: This Is Not the Jess Show

This Is Not the Jess Show

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In a world where we are surrounded by pleasurable media, the question sometimes arises; how far would we be willing to go to keep ourselves entertained? That’s the question I thought of when reading “This is Not the Jess Show,” which is one of the best books I have read in a while.
Jessica Flynn doesn’t consider her life very exciting. Growing up in Swickley, New York in the 1990s isn’t exactly ideal, especially since her little sister has recently grown sick with a chronic illness. But, everyone seems interested in Jess. Her mother always makes sure she is in designer clothes, her best friends always invite her to the biggest parties, and the hottest boy in school wants to date her. All Jess really wants is to play guitar, go off to college, and date whoever she wants.
Jess would have never guessed that there was a reason why everyone was interested in her and why bad things always seemed to happen. In reality, it’s not the 1990s, but 2037. She’s living on the set of a television show and no one bothered to tell her that her life was being filmed, not even her own parents, who have been using her for their own personal gain.
Jessica escapes the set, but life is no easier. Eager fans of her television show aren’t willing to let her go so easily; the people and the television company are willing to do anything to get her back, whether it’s pretty or not.
While this book had nods to The Truman Show, I appreciated the author showing me more of the world behind the set where Jess lived. I could see a startling prediction of the future of where reality TV might be heading. It was an excellent read, one that kept me glued to every page and excited for the sequel.

Reviewed by Bailey Day, author of “The Amazing Imagination Machine” by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine.
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Abrupt ending, thin characters, people reacting as though they're on Prozac, but not unenjoyable. I sped through this teenage version of The Truman Show, wanting to know what would happen next. Jess was clever, noting little inconsistencies and putting them together. But she never seems as betrayed or upset as I was expecting. Perhaps she's in shock?

I found the ending very abrupt as well, but Goodreads tells me there's a second book coming, so hopefully that will smooth things out. I'll be watching out for it; I'd like to know what happens next.
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I enjoyed this read, but I found it a little frothy and surface level. There was no real feeling of peril or upset or anything else. I hope that the second book will help to add some depth, and I'll be looking forward to reading it.
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This Is Not the Jess Show is an interesting book with a fascinating synopsis. The story is captivating within the first few chapters and you find yourself falling in love with the characters and their various arcs. In a "Truman Show" type story, the ending was not so much a shock as it was just an entertaining story. I expected and wanted more from it, but not much happened after the climax. The first half was gripping, the second half, unfortunately, was tedious.
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It's 1998 and Jess Flynn is surviving her high school years as best as she can. Her younger sister is sick, she's developed a crush on her best friend, and she's hearing mysterious chanting that no one else seems to be willing to acknowledge. If that's not bad enough, a strange object falls out of her friend's bag, imprinted with the Apple logo. But the first iPhone isn't due to be released for another nine years. What's going on?!

I was excited to read a YA take on what is essentially The Truman Show, but I found that this story lacked a lot of the development and intrigue I was hoping for. Jess is a likable enough character, but I never truly cared about what was happening to her at any stage of the book. It all felt very surface level.

This book describes itself as a thriller but I never felt any sense of true danger or thrills.

Warning, mild spoilers follow:

I also just massively struggled with the concept of the book. I don't find any of it believable. Is it likely that so near in our future we're so desperate for money and entertainment that we'd allow a young girl to be raised in the public eye without her consent--including her changing her clothes? That we'd be so desperate to keep that show running for our entertainment we'd allow a manhunt through the streets of New York that had the potential to turn so violent?

I don't think I'll be picking up any of the follow on books unless Carey can really step up her game.
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When the book started I wasn't sure where the story was too going to go. As the plot progresses I felt that it was a story I'd already knew, which disappointed me. But then it took a really interesting turn, and I was hooked. Right to the end the plot twists keep on coming.  I changed how I felt about characters as I got to know more about them, and formed an opinion as to how I wanted it to end...... Which I got wrong.
Great book for YA to read.  Full of twists and turns, makes you think aswell, definitely one to recommend, really enjoyed it.
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I really enjoyed this one, but I wanted so much more for the story. It's definitely on the shorter side, page count-wise, and I breezed through it in a day. The premise is incredibly enchanting, but in my opinion, it took way too long to get to the meat of the story. I wanted to see more beyond what the ending left us with. I still have so many questions. Too many questions. Though I feel like it could have been successfully accomplished in one, I also understand wanting to stretch something like this over multiple books to get a richer story. 

The world of 2037 was also fascinating, and not too different from now to be unbelievable. And I want to know so much more about the motivations behind her friends and family. My one regret? I wish the character of Kipps was more likable. The relationship that develops between them just didn't work for me. Honestly, I believed Tyler's faking it flirting more than Kipps when it came to earnestness. I didn't get any butterflies from the Jess-Kipps situation, and what was with him holding back at the end? Boy is sketchy! I also 100% kept forgetting everyone's name because almost everyone had a character name and a real-life name and it totally threw me off. And I'm usually good with that stuff. I'm definitely not one of those people who complained about Game of Thrones, but also after reading 1000 pages, you'd have a lot better of an understanding, I would hope.

Overall — this one popped me out of a reading rut, I loved how quick it was, but I want more!
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I received an ARC through NetGalley from Quirk Books. This YA book brings 90’s nostalgia front and center in a version of The Truman Show, where the main character Jess learns her family is the focus of a Like-Life TV production that is the top rated show in the US. Everything and everyone is suddenly different when Jess learns the truth. Can she escape the spotlight and what would she do if she wasn’t surrounded by actors 24/7? I’ve read Anna Carey before and I like how she writes a teen character for teens. I’m not sure current teens are going to see the fun in her 90’s references, but I completely understood each one from the Delia catalog, to TRL, to Jagged Little Pill, to Joey Lawrence. LOL!
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The start of the book is pretty tame, only really getting going by about the midpoint.  What would have helped is more of the 90s references, and more hints that something is not quite right.  Jess feels far too comfortable in the "after" parts when one would have expected her to be more at sea about what life is really like (I'm trying hard not to spoil things!).  Rounded up from 3.5 for concept.

eARC provided by publisher.
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I had a good impression of THIS IS NOT THE JESS SHOW after reading the first two chapters. I was really enjoying it. Then the confusion set in.. I had to go back and read the summary which I didn't initially because I didn't want to know too much. It was described as a YA thriller so I wanted the story to unfold as I turned the pages. That didn't work out so well. Once I read THIS IS NOT THE JESS SHOW described as a YA Truman Show I was able to jump in and go for the ride. 

It didn't quite hit the mark for me, though. It read more like dystopian then thriller. 

I really enjoyed all the 90's references and nostalgia. I thought the commentary on reality TV and obsession with social media influencer and content creators was on target. I can see reality TV evolving similarly as the envelope continues to be pushed and lines being crossed.
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Oh my, did this book send me for a loop. If you liked The Truman Show, read this. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read this, too. I absolutely did not know where this was all headed, and in many ways, this was a more dystopian novel than those branded as such because it was just so plausible and realistic. A must-read for anyone interested in reality, media, and manipulation.
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This was clever and funny, and Carey did a remarkable job at making the world feel like it was closing in around us and Jess. It is eerily reminiscent of the related film (no spoilers! because I went in completely blind, and it did't hit me until partway through and it was remarkable). The little details and nods were incredible, although on occasion it felt too heavily reliant on the film's plot points.

This book is creepy, yet funny, absurd yet heartwarming, and one of my favourites this year. I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of this universe, and will be eagerly awaiting the sequel.
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This YA novel about a 90's teenager is full of nostalgia. Readers who grew up in the 90's will find themselves reminiscing about dial-up internet, Doc Martins, and grunge music while following Jess through teenage life - falling in love, trying to find independence, and worrying about her little sister. Then things start to go awry, causing Jess to question everything she knows. 

This Is Not the Jess Show starts out like any other coming-of-age story, but when surprising twists show up and the plot thickens, you are propelled along with Jess to try to figure out life as it really is, and not as you see it.
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This Is Not the Jess Show is a book that draws you in from the very first sentence, keeping you invested in the characters and the world in which they inhabit right until the very end. The clues as to what is happening are carefully laced within the story with twists that keep you guessing. A must read for all the 90's fan out there as it full of references that will fill them with nostalgia.
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3 stars? 3.5 stars? I can't decide!

This review is probably going to be very short, because not only is it really hard to talk about this book without giving away spoilers (and you know how I feel about spoilers), but I still can't decide how I feel about the book! Without giving anything away, the basic premise is that Jess lives in the late 1990s and has the typical problems of a teenager, only with the extra burden of a sick younger sister. She’s fallen in love with her male best friend, she’s starting to feel left out by her two female best friends even though they’ve always been a trio, etc. Only weird things are starting to happen, like the fact that an iPhone falls out of her friend’s bookbag, even though the iPhone hasn’t been invented yet.

The book was very readable, which is a huge plus for me, especially with everything going on in the world right now and how that is affecting my focus. I also enjoyed the pacing throughout the first half or so, as little clues added up slowly until the twist was revealed, and then things rapidly unfolded from there.

The things that lower the rating for me are 1) the pacing of the last third or so of the book, when I think the "thriller" aspect was supposedly kicking in, but I was actually just bored by this point, and 2) believability. I think that any premise can be sold to the reader if handled well, but I never fully bought into the situation of the book. The execution was lacking. Also, going into it, I thought it would be a standalone. I think that's part of where it fails a little, because the world isn't as fleshed-out as it could be because, guess what, there's going to be at least one other book! Blargh. At least it didn’t end in a cliff-hanger, which I hate.

But, as I said, I found most of the book really readable and I so badly needed a page-turner right now. I think I'll stick with the 3-star rating for now.
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This book was so unique! I didn't see the twist coming, and it made this book unlike anything I've ever read. It's contemporary realistic fic, it's almost a little Dystopian, it's a little bit of a thriller....! I enjoyed it so much because I understood all the 90s references. I wonder if a teen reading this would get the references.
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Thank you, NetGalley, for my free review copy of this title.

2.5 stars

It’s 1998. Titanic has just won big at the Oscars. The Wedding Singer is in theaters. Jess Flynn is a mostly typical 17-year-old high school junior with an overprotective mother, living in a small town she can’t wait to escape after graduation. Everything seems normal in her 90s bubble, until one morning she hears weird chanting outside her window. Then, her school is practically empty. Her friends explain it away as some terrible flu that’s going around, but when Jess’s dog is not her dog, she starts noticing other things that are about her town, her school, her whole life. Add to that the strange electronic device that falls out of Jess’s best friend’s backpack, and Jess starts to question everything around her, noticing other things that just aren’t quite right. Like the strange trees deep in the woods that she encountered when she was a kid. Jess confronts her crush, who confirms her suspicions with some further explanation. When someone close to her leaves, she realizes that this is her chance to make an escape and find out what lies beyond the walls of her town. A little help from an unexpected ally brings her into a world she had no idea existed and throws her into the thrill of her life.

I really wanted to like this one more than I actually did. For a book that is marketed as a thriller and described as “Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life” and further described as “fast-paced,” I unfortunately felt that the plot was too slow and never truly thrilling enough for me. I will admit that there’s one small part, when Jess is on the run, that moved a little quicker for me. But it was just one scene. Of an entire book that’s meant to be a thriller. I guess with comparisons to Black Mirror, I also expected something a little darker. I can certainly see how Jess Show relates in the sense of questioning our realities, but it just never fully lived up to its potential for me. With regard to the My So-Called Life comparison: again, I expected something a little heavier/more dramatic. This felt like a comparison solely because: TV + 90s + teens. Speaking of which, there are a lot of 90s references, which makes sense, I guess. I initially liked them until, at a certain point, it started to feel as though they were just randomly name-dropped or listed rather than woven into the actual story.

I thought this was definitely an interesting concept, but it unfortunately just did not fully deliver for me.
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The concept of this book was really fun, but it didn't go deep enough to truly grip me. This is described as a thriller, but I was never particularly thrilled. I would have loved a more in-depth discussion of how society got to this insane point, but that conversation never happened. We, as readers, are just supposed to accept that in less than 20 years, it will be okay to raise a child 100% in the public eye, not even knowing she's living in the wrong decade? I know there is a second book, so I'm hoping that will come more to light in the sequel. For now, I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.
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A light sci-fi book that is set in a small town with strange behaviors and has a cute, sweet plot line.
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When a device falls out of one of her best friends backpack Jess has no idea what it is. What she does know is that her friends are keeping a secret from her. Jess has no clue what impact that secret will have on her life.

THIS IS NOT THE JESS SHOW was an interesting read for me. I liked the characters. I didn't find Jess overly whiny as so many teens tend to be in books. Also once Jess found out the big secret she didn't stick around and play the victim or allow people to manipulate her. She took charge of her life and did something to change it. I liked that about her character. 

I haven't read a young adult book in awhile so I was a bit put out with the foul language in the book. At the risk of becoming too preachy I'll just say this, I don't think that it was necessary to the story line. 

An entertaining story line, with likable characters.
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