Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Synopsis/Cover Image from Publisher's Website
It’s Kind of a Funny Story meets Daria in the darkly hilarious tale of a teen’s attempt to remake her public image and restore inner peace through reality TV. The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don't know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she'll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She'll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Lianne Oelke's Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a lot of things so to give you the basic rundown I've created a list. 

1) It's blunt
2) It's laugh-out-loud funny. Some parts made me laugh so hard I cried. Seriously, that's how hilarious this book is. 

3) It's hopeful

5) Most importantly, Jane Sinner is a riot! 

Love it or hate it but there's something vastly compelling about reality television. Luckily, that compelling aspect perfectly transitioned over into Nice Try, Jane Sinner's House of Orange. Three words to describe House of Orange? One hot mess, but it was a mess I couldn't look away from. The challenges were ridiculous yet hilarious - I'm still dying over the one involving living in the van. The production team was this weird mix of smart yet silly. The Hoocaps always managed to crack me up, and Alexander, the man behind the show, was one wise guy. He sometimes made stupid decisions, but boy, did he know how to make for quality television reading. I also enjoyed that show involved college students. It added another interesting angle. Plus it was fun to see a YA set in the big world of college. Some of the professors and guidance counselors reminded me of ones I've encountered over my years.

What also makes this book so fantastic and interesting crew of characters Lianne has at play. None of them are truly the *standard* reality TV shows stars, and honestly, that's part of what makes this book so lovable and relatable.

Jane, main character extraordinaire, is so utterly fabulous I don't even know where to begin. I'll be honest: it may take a while to warm up to Jane's particular mix of humor/sarcasm/sass. Once you get to that point, however, it's smooth sailing. Like House of Orange, Jane is a kind of a mess - a lovable mess for sure but still a mess. She hasn't been the best friend, student, sister, and/or daughter lately, but she's trying - she really is. She's just chosen to hide behind her self-made shield of humor, sarcasm, and incorrect idioms. Jane's a tough cookie - you hit her, she'll hit you right back - but at the same time, there's this sense of vulnerability to her. She's scared - scared of not winning, scared of losing the last of her friends, scared of falling in love, and scared of falling back into that place she was last year. Her feelings and thoughts felt so real, and I could easily relate. I'm often the person who hides behind humor and jokes so I could understand why Jane used that method - it's easy and painless. Over the course of the book, however, I rooted for her to open-up and to be straightforward.

In addition to Jane, I enjoyed the side characters that came along for the ride. There's a fair share so I'm going to just focuses on my favorites. Marc reminded me of one of those greasy guys from Jersey Shore, and while he was a jerk more times than nice, I still came to like him, especially when he did such ridiculous things. Robbie was a wild-card. I could never quite figure him out. Sometimes I thought he would be a great potential boyfriend for Jane, but other times not so much. Like Jane, Robbie had his own issues to figure out, and I did like the ways in which Jane and Robbie helped each other. Jenna, Jane's unlikely friend, was also a favorite of mine. She was hard to figure out, but I appreciated the way she always went to save the day.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is told through Jane's journal entries, and I thought Lianne did such a great job of fleshing them out. Never once did I feel that I missed out on something important or that I needed more details. I also liked the emphasis it put on dialogue, especially since the dialogue was golden.

I could go on about this book all day, but I'll stop here and leave you with this message: give Lianne Oelke's Nice Try, Jane Sinner a try! Regardless if you love YA or not, Jane Sinner is a character that I feel all age groups could relate to. This was such a fantastic debut, and I can't wait to see what Lianne has for us next.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is now out! 

Source: eARC provided by publisher for review - thanks HMH! 

4.5 stars!! 

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  1. Ah, this sounds so fun! I'm a reality tv addict, so that aspect draws me in. I also love the college setting, it's not one I come across often!

  2. I love a good book that makes you laugh out loud, makes other people wonder what the heck your reading! :) Love that it's written through the characters journal entries. That's different!

  3. It sounds like such a fun read! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it so much too.

  4. This sounds just wonderful! Jane sounds like an amazing character and I love books with humor. I will have to look for this one.

  5. I'm glad to see you loved this book too. Jane was such a fantastic character!


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