Cover Image: Jagged Little Pill: The Novel

Jagged Little Pill: The Novel

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

When I first started this book, I thought it would easily be a 4- or 5-star read. Having 5 POV characters can be a risk, but each character's backstory was compelling and unique, and they each easily stood apart from each other. I never mixed up any of the protagonists while reading, which can be difficult to pull off as an author, especially the more POV characters that you add. I was equally invested in all five characters and was eager to see where their stories took me. Unfortunately, the story started to fall off for me as I got closer to the end. 

The story takes place over a pretty brief period of time--the majority of the book takes place over just a few days, with the last chapter taking place a year later. And in that time, there's immediate insta-love that takes place essentially within a 24-hour period. After going on one singular date, one character tells another that they are in love with them and is shocked and offended when the other character can't reciprocate those feelings. Insta-love is a huge pet peeve of mine, so that drove me insane. 

There was also definitely some problematic content within this book that I don't think was handled well at all. For one example, a character outed another character to her family, which I absolutely hated and found very unnecessary. Also, the main POV character, Frankie, is bisexual and cheats on her girlfriend with the new kid, Phoenix, and she also lies to him about having a girlfriend in the first place. I never like seeing the harmful bisexual stereotype in media that being bisexual means you are going to cheat on your partner because it's just not true. 

Another issue that I had is that the ending didn't feel satisfying. We didn't get answers about what the entire book was about--each POV character had these interesting, unique journeys (a terminally ill sister, a complicated family relationship, being in a homophobic and religious family as a lesbian teenager, etc.), but we didn't get to see any resolution for any of those stories. 

Instead, the only person we got any ending for was Frankie. We didn't even get one for Nick, who's Frankie's brother. And since the remaining four POV characters didn't get any resolution, the book didn't feel satisfying at all and honestly ruined the point of them as POV characters, since their arcs were all unresolved and all ended up just revolving around their relationship with Frankie instead of their own journeys.

Something I did appreciate about this book was that I haven't seen the musical and I'm also not at all familiar with Alanis Morisette's music, but you don't have to be familiar with either to read this book. There are a few poems throughout that are clearly from Alanis's lyrics, but otherwise, it really could stand on its own as a YA novel, which I think is important for when musicals are adapted into novels.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend this book. I don't think the subject matter was handled well, and the ending just wasn't satisfying at all. 

Trigger warnings: sexual assault, cheating, homophobia, character with terminal illness, drug use, drinking

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed Jagged Little Pill when I saw it on Broadway and I was excited to read this YA adaptation, which mainly focused on the teen characters in the show. It was a quick, if heavy, read and I think some of the POV characters were a bit better fleshed out than others (though I'm not sure what could have been done with Bella or Phoenix, honestly). My favorite part was probably the Alanis lyrics scattered throughout the book. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the show-- second only to the cast recording, it's the next best thing.
Was this review helpful?
This was an enjoyable read if you’re a fan of the broadway musical. I really liked the characters and the quotes in the book. It really adds to the enjoyment of the musical.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to ABRAMS kids/Amulet books for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Based on the Broadway Musical of the same name which is based of Alanis Morissette's classic album, Jagged Little PIll: The Novel stands on its own in the YA space, telling an honest story of how we're all  broken and trying to navigate the world the best we can.

Central to the story is a family made up of a mom with a secret drug problem, an adopted daughter with identity issues, the "perfect" son holding everyone together, and an absent father who's basically given up. The story revolves around one night where a particularly shocking and disturbing event takes place at a high school party which brings to light a number of issues the town and families who live in it must deal with head on.

While this book is packed with issues ranging from sexual assault to drug abuse, cheating, identity, race, and illness, it handles them all carefully and the high school aged protagonists handle them with honesty, curiosity and grace.

The writing is well done and will keep your attention, especially giving each chapter a  perspective from one of the characters. However, there are often moments when it's very obvious that the adult authors are trying their best to write in teenage voices. The best YA authors know how to keep language and word choice authentic and Jagged Little Pill is a mixed bag in this area.

I have not seen the stage version of Jagged Little Pill but am very familiar with Morissette's catalog, whose lyrics and themes are present here, sometimes more obviously than others. After reading this book I actually went to listen to numerous tracks of the cast recording and to Alanis' album, I just couldn't resist!

Jagged Little Pill is a good book for an older teenager/young adult reader and I'd recommend Gen Z parents to buy them for their teenage kids to spread the Morissette love.
Was this review helpful?
Jagged Little Pill: The Novel by Eric Smith; Alanis Morissette; Diablo Cody; Glen Ballard was in my opinion a great book. The book follows 5 povs of characters as they all had some relation to a girl who was wads raped at a party while she was drunk. This book is for sure an extremely heavy book that you need to check trigger warnings for. This book had, black character rep, adoption rep, bisexual rep, and lesbian rep. I did notice that the bisexual character's sexuality character arc was very "Cheating bisexual trope." Besides that, the book was really good. I went into this book not knowing what Jagged Little Pill was about and here is a summary. 5 povs of characters overlap as one of the characters was raped at a party. Overall I gave this book 4.5 stars and I would highly recommend this book as long as you check the trigger warning. Thank you, to NetGalley for a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Jagged Little Pill is a novelization of the Broadway play about a group of teenagers who's lives are changed after questionable events at a party. Frankie and Jo struggling with their own relationships to themselves, each other and their families, they set aside these issues to help Bella, who would like nothing more than to forget that the party ever happened. This is about standing up for yourself and helping to give power of the pain of terrible experiences. All on the backdrop of Alanis Morrisette lyrics.
Was this review helpful?
While vaguely aware the music of Alanis Morissette had inspired a Broadway musical, I admittedly went in, somewhat blind to its novel adaptation. In my defense, anything based off the genius that was Morissette’s ground breaking album would peak the curiosity of a lot of people from my generation. When Jagged Little Pill came out I was  a high school senior, scorned (by tame, teenage standards) by my first “love”. Needless to say, JLP’s cocktail of anger and angst spoke to me, along with many other teenage girls of the time.

Fast forward more years than I care to admit and this book crosses my path. I requested it from @netgalley without hesitation, curious to see how they would breathe new life into the powerful words of the album (that still holds up, mind you) all these years later. Color me disappointed however, when I came to find reading this book did, in fact, leave me feeling like it had rained on my wedding day. Ironic, don’t ya think?

In this EXTREMELY, loosely based adaptation, we follow a group of teenagers, ultimately seeing how each is effected after the fallout from a recent high school party. There’s the siblings, Frankie and Nick, one who is loved, “as long as he’s perfect”, the other adopted and torn emotionally between her best friend and the new boy in town. Then there’s Bella, the victim of a sexual assault gone viral, among others. Oh, did I fail to mention this book doesn’t even take place in the nineties? In fact, with the exception of the poetry our main characters “created”, poached right from the likes of Morissette and Ballard’s song book, you would NEVER know this book was based on anything Alanis related, period.

Even if, and it’s a big IF I could put my frustration aside for failing to see the lack of Alanis’s inspiration, this book reads like typical young adult fare, and not one that’s fleshed out all that well either. Looking back, I wouldn’t call JLP a concept album, so it’s a fairly odd choice to try to write an entire production upon. I might be in the minority here, but the thoughts in this review are all my own and ones, I thought, you outta know.
Was this review helpful?
As a child of the 90's, I have very strong memories of the songs from Alanis Morrissette's smash record Jagged Little Pill. I remember the music video with Alanis singing Ironic in her car. I also remember Alanis in the rooftop that eventually led to a pie fight in You Learn. And I may have a little too young to fully understand You Oughta Know but that didn't mean I didn't love rocking out to it. In 2018, all of this started coming together in the form of a musical. And now in 2022, this is written record of the Jagged Little Pill story. 

Jagged Little Pill is an angst fueled look into a suburb in Connecticut.  It is told in multiple perspectives and all very interconnected. This story holds discussions on sexuality, race, drugs, alcohol, broken family, adoption, illness, and other important topics. Each character has their own personalities and experiences which leads to varying levels of growth or even lack of growth. These characters had so many challenges, they often struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Eric Smith loves to drop easter eggs in his books and this one is no exception. Finding the Alanis related easter eggs brought me joy while reading. They are just so well placed that if you were more unfamiliar with certain song lyrics, you could miss it and think it was just part of the story. Not having them interrupt the story allowed the story to keep flowing and the anger to keep building. 

With so much angst, there were times when the characters frustrated me. I think that this was a good thing as it reminded me that these for the most part were teenage characters who were still growing up. And for those non-teenagers it was a reminder that people are evolving throughout their entire lives. That and the fact that life can get complicated pretty quickly; and it is not always fixed up perfectly either. The tone of the book was filled with ease which I think made the deep topics it covers easier to absorb. The tone made the story even more important. 

Jagged Little Pill is targeted as a  young adult book but it contains topics which are important for all ages. There are lessons within these pages. Lessons which if put in the right hands could be life saving making someone realize they are not alone. Through this story the legacy that is Alanis Morrissette will be continued with future generations as they will forever be learning.
Was this review helpful?
I grew up on this album and have loved Alanis since day one. Before Covid seeing this musical was on my list, but I took the next best and read the book. Perfect!
Was this review helpful?
I had a little trouble connecting with the characters of this story. I almost didn't finish, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot. I ended up really liking the book as a whole.
Was this review helpful?
I love Alanis Morrisette. Really wanted to see the musical so this was the next best thing. I do feel though that the story could have been expanded upon even more but it is very deep and thoughtful.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really gutsy YA novel that truly blew me away.  So many tough, serious issues were addressed that I did not see coming.  I loved the LGBTQ representation and that a main character was struggling with their queer identity.  I loved the introduction of a mother struggling with substance abuse.  The sexual assault scenes were difficult, but not something that is unrealistic from what actually occurs with teens (especially in the land of social media) today.  I respected this novel so much.  Full review to come on instagram and tiktok tomorrow, but I loved it!  And Alanis is queen, so the lyric egg nuggets were SUPREME!
Was this review helpful?
Love love love!!
If you are a fan of Alanis...this is a must read for you.   The broadway show in paper form!
Was this review helpful?
2.5 Stars

As quick of a read that this was, it wasn’t the book for me. Everything moved so quickly that it all felt really rushed. And for the subject matter, it was a disservice, IMO. The first 30% was set up and then the rest took place in days but so much went on it felt like it should have been months. Also for me this was one of those rare books that so many POVs hurt the story because I couldn’t focus on each character long enough to get invested. All in all it just wasn’t for me.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the Jagged Little Pill musical (I saw it twice) so I was very excited about this book. But unfortunately, it majorly missed the mark. 

The musical focuses around MJ primarily and her plight, while the book’s changing POVs are the various other characters: her daughter Frankie, son Nick, and other high schoolers Bella, Jo and Phoenix. Maybe this was intended to flush out these characters on the page or to entice YA readers by only focusing on the teens, but either way it’s didn’t work. The storylines were the same as the musical and without delving into MJ’s storyline on the page, it all felt bland.. Bella’s sexual assault was barely addressed except in broad strokes. Jo was barely there and only a casualty to Frankie. Frankie was just selfish and unlikeable, not a fully formed person like in the musical. Nick’s motivations weren’t discussed so I just hated him and Phoenix had a lot of potential with his family but we barely grazed the surface. 

Teen books like 13 reasons why deal with these tough topics much better. The author also didn’t distinguish between the characters’ voices: nothing was distinct. 

All in all, a big disappointment and made me wish I was watching the musical again and seeing the actor’s depth that was missing here.
Was this review helpful?
I hadn't heard of the Broadway show, "Jagged Little Pill," but I did listen to Alanis quite frequently while growing up in the 90s! Needless to say, I was thrilled to read this book and it did not disappoint.

The book has multiple POVs (which I enjoyed) and covers the lives of five teens who are impacted by the events that unfold after a party. Nick is struggling with being "perfect", Frankie is a black, bisexual teen who has been adopted into a white family, Jo is gay and Catholic (which causes all kinds of issues), Phoenix is trying to fit into a new town, and Bella is the victim of sexual assault.

This book was very easy to read, despite the heavy topics (TW: sexual assault, drinking and drug use). It brought me back to high school and all the struggles we face. I thought it was very well-written with developed characters.
Was this review helpful?
I loved watching the messy lives of a family of four: white mom trying to hide her pain pill addiction, white dad always at work, white teen son forced to be the perfect everything, and adopted Black teen daughter trying to fix the world while trying to figure out where she fits in. It's filled with the many mistakes we make as individuals and as a society but told with a lot of heart, care, and hope.
Was this review helpful?
Based on the original Broadway musical, this novel follows the intertwining lives of five teens whose worlds are shaken after the events of a party. Adopted Frankie struggles to find her place in her family, among her Harvard-bound older brother, Nick, her workaholic father, and her perfectionist mother. She hides a huge part of her life—that her best friend, Jo, is more than just a friend, while she is also connecting with the new student, Phoenix. One tragic night at a party, their  friend Bella is sexually assaulted, and the group comes together to fight for justice. 

Alanis Morissette’s music is so nostalgic to growing up in the 90s, so while I was disappointed that I was unable to see the show prior to its closing on Broadway this past December, I was thrilled I’d be able to experience the story through the pages of a book. I love how the novel incorporated some of Morissette’s lyrics into the writing, and I thought that was a fun nod to the musical. The story deals with very serious content, and I think it does an excellent job recognizing ongoing issues in society in regard to social justice. I loved the five different perspectives, and thought the character development was outstanding. Overall, this was a powerful novel I would definitely recommend to both adults and teens. 

Thank you to NetGalley and ABRAMS books for my gifted e-ARC!
Was this review helpful?
As a fan of the Broadway musical by the same title, I was curious to read the novel adaptation of the book by Eric Smith. Jagged Little Pill is based on Alanis Morissette studio album by the same title. Of course, the musical uses Morissette's music to play out a new story in traditional jukebox musical fashion. The novel, obviously, doesn't have the luxury of Morissette's music to help tell the story, but I think the author does a good job encapsulating the general feel of the original musical.

The book itself does a good job of sticking to the different characters and perspectives from the original musical. There are also a lot of text messages that go back and forth, which is artfully handled.

Overall, I really enjoyed this musical adaptation. I think the book offers an interesting look into a series of provocative issues for older high school students and young adults.

I want to thank the publisher for the advanced review copy of this book. Although I am grateful for the opportunity, the review was completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
Jagged Little Pill is the novelization of the Broadway musical of the same name. I've never seen it, but I'm a big Alanis fan, and so I really wanted to read this book. Frankie is an angsty teen with a bad adoptive mom, but her brother (her parents' birth child), Nick, can do no wrong, while Frankie feels like everything she does is wrong. Phoenix is new in town and his sister is in the hospital with a life-threatening illness, leaving him to step up. Bella just wants Nick, but he doesn't notice her, and Jo doesn't feel like anyone sees her for who she truly is. This is a multi-POV novel, and all of the characters mentioned have POV chapters.

The story here is captivating. The lives of these teens change when Bella is raped at a party. At first, I was really invested in these characters, but the story goes a little nutty at the end, cramming so much into the last third of the book, I felt like my head was spinning, and the characters just lost all depth. What's worse is that often times these characters are indistinguishable from one another. Phoenix, Jo, and Frankie all sound the same, and Bella has very little personality at all. I liked the story a lot (the only reason I kept reading), and I'd love to see the musical to see how the actors breathe life into these characters, but the novel had them feeling very flat to me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?