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Janie Face to Face

This week Danielle concludes the Janie series with the 2013 Caroline B. Cooney novel Janie Face to Face. Janie is headed off to college and wants to use that as an opportunity to assert her independence from her family. She does this by only going back to stay with her family every weekend. Also, Janie’s Connecticut parents are now in assisted living since her father is not doing well after the stroke he had in the last book and they somehow lost all their vast wealth. Janie decides that’s a good enough reason to start distancing herself from them. At the same time, we’re introduced to Hannah and are gifted little vignettes that tell the story of how she kidnapped Janie. This sections are not kind to Hannah, and also amazingly bonkers. Meanwhile, at school, Janie meats a new boy, Mike Hastings, who quickly reveals himself to be an absolute creeper. However, Janie decides that’s all fine until she learns that Mike has been working with a supposed true crime writers to investigate her life for his latest book. In what might be her only good decision in this book, she dumps his butt. However, the rest of her family is still receiving solicitations from the writer, and some of them seem far more willing to talk than Janie is. In another disturbing trend, Stephen and Janie both reunite with their terrible exes, Kathleen and Reeve respectively. In a spur-of-the-moment decision at Janie’s departure from a visit, Reeve proposes by shouting his request across the airport (romantic) and Janie actually says yes. Wild. Anyway, it soon becomes clear that the person behind the book, and the investigation, into Janie’s life is not what he seems to be, and the revelation has the potential to upend Janie’s life forever (but it definitely won’t).

Book Reshorts: But What Do They Think 2: Thinking Boogaloo

This week Danielle brings back the game But What Do They Think, where she presents reviews to Sam and he tries to guess what media piece they’re about. It goes about as you’d expect, which is to say it’s a struggle, but the real gold is all the amazing, actual reviews Danielle managed to find. So enjoy as we review the reviews!

Book Reshorts: Panic! at the Recall

This week Danielle has devised a game to test how well our hosts remember the media they’ve already shared. With the task to summarize their media piece in one minute or less, it’s no surprise that things go hilariously wrong as Danielle and Sam struggle to recall even the most basic details about pieces they spent hours talking about.

Check out Danielle and Sam as they join Dustin for the I know What You Did episode of the excellent Rewatch Recap podcast. Find it on Twitter @dustin_holden, Instagram @therewatchrecap, and wherever you get your podcasts.

What Janie Found

This week Danielle is back to finish (kind of) the Janie series with the 2000 Caroline B. Cooney book What Janie Found. Janie’s back and more teen than ever! While rifling through her father’s office (he had a heart attack/stroke, don’t worry about it) she comes across a folder labeled “HJ” and immediately concludes it has something to do with Hannah. Also, Reeve is back in her life, trying just so hard to get back into her good graces, which, for some reason, she is allowing him to do. Reeve notices Janie looking at the folder but wisely decides not to pry this time since he’s still on thin ice. Janie discovers a checkbook in the folder and deduces that her father (the Connecticut one) has been sending money to his estranged daughter, and Janie is not on board with this. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Stephen is dating a girl named Kathleen who’s father just happens to have been in the FBI, and they are both super interested in the Janie kidnapping story, to a degree that is problematic. They grill Stephen about the story over dinner and this is in no way foreshadowing for how terrible they are. Janie, meanwhile, discovers that the checks her father was writing are being sent to, of all places, Colorado, so she concocts a plan to go there on the pretense of visiting Stephen, but with the intention of tracking down Hannah to get some answers. This is obviously a terrible plan, so of course her brother Brian and freaking Reeve come along. Unrelated, but Janie is also a bridesmaid in Reeve’s sister’s, Lizzie the Lawyer’s, wedding for reasons that are dumb. Anyway, in Colorado, Janie waffles on whether to leave a note for Hannah in the PO box, and in the meantime Kathleen, encouraged by her father, grills Janie about her experience as a “kidnapette”, and that term tells you all you really need to know about Kathleen and her father as people. The question remains: Will Janie confront Hannah and finally get the therapy she so desperately needs? All we can say is that there’s actually a fifth book, surprise!

The Voice on the Radio

This week Danielle dips back into the Janie well with the 1996 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Voice on the Radio. Taking place a few months after the previous, Janie’s boyfriend Reeve is off to college in Boston, and Sam is still irked at not getting the prom scene that was teased. While Reeve is enjoying the college life and his new job at the college radio station, Janie is back home leafing through wedding magazines and fantasizing about their future. This is all totally normal teen stuff and not at all foreshadowing. One night, Reeve gets his big break and is given the chance to DJ on the mic. Did anyone bother to help Reeve come up with a plan for this show? Apparently not, as he’s shoved in front of the mic and immediately panics. So Reeve does what any normal person would, he spills the beans on Janie’s very traumatic and private kidnapping history, in what Sam declares is the progenitor of all true crime podcasts. This horrific betrayal of trust goes over extremely well with the radio audience and Reeve has the new hit show on campus. In the meantime, Janie is dealing with her school wanting to dedicate a page to her kidnapping story, something she is not on-board with since she feels it’s far too private (hear that, Reeve, ya jerk?!). Despite momentary feelings of unease, Reeve is all-in on trading Janie’s story and trust for college radio fame, and even manages to dodge a few close calls where Janie almost uncovers it all. Alas, we all know Janie will eventually find the truth and have to deal with that betrayal, and then Reeve will have to deal with his greatest challenge yet: Exercising even a minuscule amount of willpower. Whatever happens between Janie and Reeve, there’s one thing we can all sure of: This book will for sure end on a cliffhanger. Enjoy!

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 7

This week Sam brings the culmination of six previous episodes with the final part of the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. Kassad is back and he’s ready to kick some Shrike butt! However, the Shrike is still a master of time so Kassad ends up in the distant future where he leads a band of humans against hordes of Shrike in a final battle that also determines how many Shrike get sent back in time. Also, Moneta is there and it’s her first time meeting Kassad due to time shenanigans. Back in the valley, Brawne sets off to the Time Tomb known as the Shrike Palace because her trip to the datumplane showed her that it has some connection to the Tree of Thorns. Sol goes back to the Sphinx to sit and wait for Rachel. Meanwhile, Keats/Severn has a not-very-helpful conversation with Ummon and then dies (kinda) and Leigh Hunt buries him under the watchful gaze of the Shrike (don’t ask how), and then finds himself stranded on Earth. Back with the Ousters, the Consul is informed that the Ousters are not, in fact, invading the Hegemony, it’s the TechnoCore, gasp! He’s also informed that at no point did his actions stem from freewill, but were manipulated by just everyone around him. He does not take that well. Also meanwhile, Meina Gladstone is struggling to find a path forward that doesn’t involve using the TechnoCore’s plan of a deathwand bomb that may or may not wipe out humanity (Spoiler: it probably will). that’s when the ghost consciousness of Severn/Keats decides to bop-around the datumplane/Metasphere a bit having shed his corporeal body. He takes this opportunity to get into the dreams of Meina and also His-Brand-New-As-Yet-Unnamed-Holiness Paul Duré, and give them some very cryptic information that really saves their butts. Will Meina be able to thwart the Core? Will humanity survive? How the heck does Brawne turn the Shrike to glass? Answers to two of those question, and definitely not all three, can be found in this action-packed, jumbo finale of the Fall of Hyperion! While you may be sad this is the end, Danielle could not be more stoked that it’s over.

Hyperion – Part 1 (Rerun)

Far into the future after humanity has spread through the stars to many planets, a group of seven people are tasked with undertaking a pilgrimage to the Shrike, the mysterious and deadly creature that guards the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. The Time Tombs are opening and there is also an Ouster migration cluster that is threatening to take the planet, and the secrets of the Tombs, away from the Hegemony. Thus Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Hegemony, sends a message in a “fatline squirt” to the Consul, who is one of the pilgrims, and tells him to be on the lookout for an Ouster spy among the group. If none of that made sense to you, don’t worry, Danielle is convinced this story is perhaps the most incomprehensible one Sam has ever shared, and totally crazy to boot. Aboard a massive spaceship made from an actual, living tree, the pilgrims gather and agree to tell their stories so they can better understand why each of them was chosen for this journey. First up to share is the Catholic priest Lenar Hoyt, who tells the story of another priest, Paul Duré, who was exiled to Hyperion by the Church for falsifying data at an archaeological dig. Duré plans to study an isolated tribe on the planet, which is composed of people supposedly descended from the crew of a seedship which crashed there hundreds of years ago. To reach the village, Duré must traverse the deadly Fire Forests filled with tesla tress which both absorb and emit lightning, a phenomenon that greatly annoys Danielle since the trees don’t seem to burn themselves down in the resulting conflagration. When Duré finds the tribe, he notices they are dimwitted, physically bland, and seemingly bereft of humanity, and show a cult-like devotion to maintaining their population at seventy people. As he stays with them, he starts to uncover a horrifying secret that shakes his faith and leads him to extreme actions. Before all that, however, is the introduction of a word gross enough to challenge “khui” for the throne of uncomfortable words: Gymnosperm. So get ready for a deep dive into a massive space opera, full of stellar sci-fi words and technobabble, that only gets weirder and more incomprehensible the more it’s explained.

Whatever Happened to Janie?

This week Danielle brings more of the Caroline B. Cooney Janie series with the 1993 novel Whatever Happened to Janie? Jenny/Janie has contacted the Spring family, which she was taken from, and they demand that Janie sever ties with her current family and friends for at least three months and come live with them in New Jersey. It has to be one of the single worst decisions we’ve ever encountered in any media for this podcast. Janie, naturally, has a hard time adjusting to life with the new family, new school, and no friends. It doesn’t help that her new siblings alternate between pitying and resenting her, and sometimes blaming her for not thwarting her kidnapping as—and this can’t be stressed this enough—a three-year-old child. It’s criminal that no one in this family is receiving the therapy they all so desperately need. Janie eventually wears her new parents down enough that they let her call her previous parents, which at least seems to help a little. Also helping is that her hunky former neighbor Reeve is still all aboard the Janie train and drives down to take her out on a date. The plot to this book is about as thin as the previous book, but Sam still gets plenty upset at all the characters behaving abominably in a situation that requires way more empathy and kindness than is on offer. It also doesn’t help that the end of this book is so inconsequential that it feels like half the pages are missing. So enjoy as Sam continues to be mad at very slowly learning Janie’s story.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 6

This week Sam brings the penultimate episode of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Picking up where we left off last time, Severn takes a little meditation time to have visions of Meina Gladstone’s war room where the TechnoCore has just the best idea to defeat the ousters: Herd all the Hegemony people to safety in the labyrinths then use a novel WMD they just happen to have to wipe out the ousters. While many of the FORCE leaders love this idea, Meina, and also Danielle, are not on board. Severn also sees the consul being rescued from brigands by his friend Theo Lane, which is the most interesting Danielle has found the Consul to be in quite some time. Severn comes too and is joined by Leigh Hunt who has come to take him to talk to Gladstone while Father Duré goes to God’s Grove to talk to the Templars. Unfortunately, as Severn and Hunt step through the farcaster, they end up not in Government House, but in what Severn identifies as Earth, or its recreation, far from the web. Severn recognizes the area as Italy and he and Hunt are pushed towards Rome on the abandoned planet. Also, Severn develops an instant case of tuberculosis, because Keats. While Severn and Hunt conduct their slow trek to Rome, Meina and her generals observe the first invasion of Heaven’s Gate, which ends in the planet being destroyed from orbit, so not a great start. Meanwhile, the Consul makes it back to his ship with the help of Melio Arundez, but instead of returning to Sol and Rachel, he is requested by Meina to liaise with the Ouster swarm in the Hyperion system to negotiate a ceasefire. Also, Kassad is fighting the Shrike and while not doing too badly, is definitely not winning. Back on God’s Grove, Father Duré has a tête-à-tête with the True Voice of the Worldtree and the Bishop of the Church of Final Atonement. A lot of things are revealed in this conversation, and this is about the time where Danielle’s brain just gives up trying to understand everything. While this section is definitely jam-packed with intrigue and complications, we do at least get a new pope. Unfortunately, said pope is not our two hosts, but maybe next time.

The Face on the Milk Carton

This week Danielle brings Sam back to the 90s with the 1990 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Face on the Milk Carton. Fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson is your average lactose-intolerant teen who just wants to fit in and kiss the cute boy next door. However, one day at school she sees a picture of a missing three-year-old child on a milk carton and is immediately convinced it’s probably her from twelve years ago. This immediately sends Janie spiraling into an existential crisis. Amazingly, Janie starts to have flashbacks to memories of her three-year-old life, improbable as it sounds for her to have one, much less just so freaking many memories from when she was three or younger. Janie begins to question if her parents are really her parents, but instead of asking them outright anything about it, or contacting the hotline from the milk carton for clarification, Janie stalks the family of the missing girl by coercing her kinda-boyfriend into driving her to New Jersey only to chicken out before actually knocking on the door. Finally, Janie confronts her parents who tell her a story about how her mother, their daughter, ran off to join a cult and then showed up one day to dump baby Janie on them, which they raised as their own. Amazingly, the story doesn’t just end there with everyone getting a lot of therapy. No spoilers, but Sam is very upset by the “twist” that everyone just accepts and is downright angry by the end book, so you know this is going to be a good one!