Jane in the Middle of Nowhere is a young adult book about "Plain Jane," who is a archeological fanatic, and her adventures in the "Middle of Nowhere," a small town where she is stuck every summer with her grandmother. Adventure abounds once a package lands on her grandmother's doorstop at the beginning of the summer. Surprises on every different level including with her relationships are in store for Jane.
There are wonderful strengths to this novel, which I rate at 3.5 stars. I rounded up because there is a certain factor, which I will allude to in just a moment. The details are there; I felt that Jane and her best friend Mark knew their subject matter. Versimilitude was not a problem. I liked a lot of the twists in the story, and the fact that there was a mystery that sucks us in from the first chapter. Trying to figure out the answers to that mystery kept my interest. Jane is a relatable character; I liked that she wasn't your typical teen. Mark was less interesting to me because he was a little too "perfect" even though he definitely got the gang into many bouts of trouble when he probably should have known better. There is one character that I kept thinking to myself was a huge lost opportunity for making more three dimensional... and then something changes late in the book. I literally punched my fist in the air in triumph and yelled "YES!" when this change occurs and in some senses, this switch really redeemed this novel for me.
There are issues with this book. I thought the reference to "The Middle of Nowhere" was a little overdone. We get the idea after the first few references. The size of that phrase started to feel clunky after a while. The editing is decent in the first half, but the mistakes start piling up in the last half as if the editor got tired. The conversations become more and more choppy as the story went along. There's a couple of points in the story where something awful happens and the characters are so involved that I expected a greater emotional fallout, which never happened. I got a brief one liner that said they were sad. I felt that the characters would be more fleshed out if more attention were paid to these details. As for the final twist, at first, I was delighted because it was unexpected, and then when the truth came out, I was very disappointed, because the ending became much more obvious and not surprising at all. The last few pages felt a little rushed, and everything resolved quickly and in a tidy way, which seemed not true to the story for me.
That said, I think this was a good attempt and worth reading. The supporting characters and details about archeology really made it stand out.