Not the Truman show

I just want to mention that the publication date has been moved around a lot for this book. So the date listed here could change again, but hopefully not.

This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Publication Date: February 2nd, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

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. 

But the year is 1998, and the first iPhone won’t exist for another nine years.

ARC provided by Quirk Books via NetGalley for an honest review.


I have some mixed feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t feel like it lived up to it’s potential. I think that part of this had to do with its length. It is just too short to fully develop the characters and the world to the point where they support the plot.

I started off liking Jess and sort of feeling sorry for her. But there were times when she makes decisions that seemed off for her character, and she didn’t always ask for an explanation from anyone. She just accepted everything everyone told her, even when she could tell something was wrong. The supporting characters were also not well developed and all seemed to have the same range of emotions and cookie cutter personalities. Some of this was perhaps meant on purpose as they were all actors, but it did not help with the overall like-ability of the characters.

The plot was pretty fast paced for the most part, although there were a few draggy moments in the middle. This was definitely a plot driven story, with everything happening quite quickly once Jess finds out what is going on. I would have liked a bit more world building, especially surrounding the whys of how the show started and survived for so long. The little twist at the end was a nice touch though, but I would have liked a better over all ending. I think there is suppose to be a sequel, but if there isn’t then the ending was certainly lacking in closure.

This book was entertaining on the surface, but it lacked depth and empathy for the characters which is something I always look for in a good book. If you are looking for something light and easy to read, then this is certainly a book to take a look at.

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