Fans of John Green will want to check out Michael Belanger’s just-published first novel The History of Jane Doe. The novel, set in fictional Burgerville, Connecticut (which is NOT based on Greenwich!), revolves around two marginalized high school juniors, history buff Ray Green (who narrates) and his milk drinking vampire fan pal Simon Blackburn, and the changes their lives go through when a new student, named “Jane Doe” by Ray to protect her & her family, enrolls in their school.
Jane has a profound effect on both guys, especially Ray, who falls in love with her & vice versa. But, as the story unfolds, there’s an unsettling undercurrent, as Ray’s depiction of events veers back and forth from the past to the present, with the sense that something’s just not right. And though the reader may think they know how everything will end, the book’s climax will still feel like an unexpected punch to the stomach.
For a first time published author, Belanger shows a distinctly mature and perceptive style. He draws vivid depictions of the main AND secondary characters (no throwaways here), some of whom you’ll want to know more about after finishing the book. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing another installment set in Burgerville (which has quite the colorful history, according to Ray). Dialogue is also sharp and never rings false. The History of Jane Doe is definitely recommended!