ARC: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

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4 stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a hilarious and entertaining debut about second chances and making the most of what you’ve got.

After a personal crisis and expulsion from high school, Jane brokers a deal with her parents to attend a high school completion program at the nearby community college so long as she gets to move out. To solve her housing problem, she signs up for House of Orange, a reality show where Jane competes against her five other housemates to be the last on left in the orange-shag carpeted house.

The reality show grows throughout local fans, and Jane gets the chance to let out her cynical, competitive nature and prove to the viewers of substandard TV that she has what it takes to win. 

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I had a ton of fun reading this novel! Jane is such a great main character and was my favorite part of the novel. She’s got this dry sense of humor that I really enjoyed and was like that snarky voice in the back of your head that you always mentally laugh with but never vocalize.

Although she wasn’t super witty, she was deadpan and well-timed and I just enjoyed her humor. I know some people might not like Jane’s humor, but I thought it was really enjoyable.

It wasn’t like the more goofy humor in My Lady Jane, I still had a silly grin on my face and was snickering to myself while reading it, earning me more than a few odd looks from my judgey dog.

She was depicted as teenager-ish without being shown as lazy, which I really enjoyed. Instead, it was stuff like being protective over cake and disliking schoolwork and normal stuff. Jane felt very real as a character, and I thought she was a cool person (and could definitely relate with some of the struggle.)

I also like how her backstory was built up–I don’t want to spoil The Thing that happened, but I thought it was built up nicely throughout the first part of the story and revealed well.

It’s good to note how this novel isn’t told in a traditional style as it’s told regularly when it’s description or Jane’s internal dialogue, but when it’s out-loud dialogue, it looks like this (mind you, this is a non-canon conversation):

JANE
(Marc! What did you do with my cake?) 

Cake?

MARC

What cake?

So the dialogue is in screenwriting style or something different. I didn’t mind it, although it does mean less dialogue tags and description added in.

Jane values her…brevity and so the book accurately reflects this with less description and concise answers. Her internal vs. external thoughts (the italics vs. non in the blockquote) were all interesting and that fake laugh kind of funny.

The plot was also fun–I’ve never heard of the show Big Brother, but House of Orange is apparently similar to that. It was entertaining to read and I thought the plot was entertaining and well paced and developed.

I had a lot of fun reading this novel–it was an enjoyable read that I absolutely sped through. But, after reading, I realized a couple things that made me want to lower my rating.

  1. What happened? The plot was entertaining and all, but this is a story about Jane and I had no idea where the character growth went. She wasn’t as dynamic as I wanted her to be, and although she realized a couple things, I feel like she didn’t show as many signs of change and there could have been more pondering on that at the end, even if it is slightly out of character. Jane could have done it though, I’m sure, especially with a cake metaphor.
  2. Jane took a lot of things for granted. I guess it was part of the plot that she was a non-motivated teenager, but it did annoy me a little after reading when I realized she was handed so many chances and didn’t take them to the fullest extent. And yes, I can’t really scorn her on that, but I wanted to see more of that growth in there, you know?

Overall, this was such a fun novel that I definitely enjoyed reading! It was entertaining and hilarious and I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for a fun read.

Thank you to my library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with this (uncatalogued) copy!

much love, vicky

Are you excited for Nice Try, Jane Sinner? What do you think of the summary?

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2 thoughts on “ARC: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

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