Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey
Published by Quirk Books on February 2, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Historical, Suspense
Format: eBook (304 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
A timely YA thriller about a teenage girl whose reality may not be what it seems, blending 90s nostalgia with a speculative hook that dissects our modern reality TV and influencer-obsessed culture.
Like many teens, sometimes it feels as though everything in Jess Flynn's life has been engineered for maximum drama--from her performance at the school talent show, to the reappearance of her childhood best friend and perennial crush Jeremy, to her friends trying to set her up with one of the hottest guys in school. It's almost as if everything might finally be going her way...until one day a tiny black phone with an apple logo on its screen falls out of her best friend's backpack and lands at Jess's feet.
The problem is, it's 1998, and the first iPhone isn't due out for another nine years.
Jess's friends refuse to acknowledge the strange device. Her sister Sara, on hospice care with a terminal blood disease, for once can't tell Jess what she should do. It's almost as if everyone is hiding something from her. Even her beloved dog Fuller seems different...like, literally different, because he definitely didn't have that same pattern of spots on his stomach last week...
Nothing in Jess Flynn's world is as it seems, and as the cracks begin to show, Jess will discover her entire life is nothing more than someone else's entertainment. Except in this reality, the outside world is no place anyone would want to escape to.
This is Not the Jess Show was such a trip! Seventeen-year-old Jess lives a pretty normal life. She lives with her parents, she has a younger sister (who is on hospice care), has a cute dog, two best friends, and a crush on a guy she’s known her whole life. But then things start feeling off. Jess hears something weird one morning, but can’t pinpoint what it’s coming from and no else seems to have heard it. Then her sister’s health takes a sudden turn for the worst, and her beloved dog bites her! Not to mention that her BFFs act weird when Jess sees an iPhone fall out of one of their bags. Of course, the iPhone doesn’t exist since it’s 1998.
I really enjoyed This is Not the Jess Show but I don’t want to say too much about the plot and give away the fun surprises! It starts out reading like 90s Fiction. Jess is just going about her life and trying to figure out why everyone is suddenly acting so strange. Even her crush who seems to like her back is starting to act odd. But then he lets her in on a secret and it blows Jess’s world wide open! WTF is going on!? I was shocked. I was disturbed. I had to read more!
I will admit that I’ve questioned the reality of my life many times over the years. This is Not the Jess Show just takes it a few steps further. What if you weren’t who you thought you were? What if your life wasn’t what you thought it was?! This book was just a good time, from reliving the ’90s to that exciting plot twist, up until that disturbing ending.