Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Jenna Fox is seventeen years old and wakes up not remembering her entire life. Her parents tell her she was in a coma for a year after an accident. Nothing in her new life is familiar including her own body, but somehow she can recite large passages of literature and has an encyclopedic memory for useless facts and history. She is isolated in a small town with none of the friends she sees in the videos of her own unremembered life. Her parents are incredibly over protective, even forbidding her from telling others where they came from and why. Her grandmother is disdainful of her now, contrary to the videos she watches where her grandmother was previously loving and warm. It's obvious that family is keeping secrets from her. She wants to find out the truth and starts digging in the things her family has hidden and pushing her family for answers. As she slowly regains her memory, Jenna will stop at nothing to find out who she really is, but is she prepared for the truth?

I had avoided reading this for a while because its original cover made it look like a typical teen angstfest or romance, either of which I normally have no interest in. The second cover makes it much more apparent that a science fiction story was contained within it, which piqued my interest. It only took me a few hours to read the book because of the fluid and simple writing style. I liked the way the poetry at the beginning of each section and the short chapters played with the tempo of the book and made it feel like it passed by faster. By not being flowery or lyrical, the writing matches the tone and character of Jenna. She's a blank slate since she awakened from her coma and even her poetry is written in a frank, analytical manner. Jenna's point of view evolves throughout the novel as she slowly regains her memories and reconciles who she is in the present with who she was in the past. Much of the novel feels odd because of her inability to remember anything about herself and her uncanny ability to rattle off information about history, literature, and science. It's a weird dissonance that both Jenna and the reader feel that takes us deeper into the mystery. I enjoyed her evolution from an empty shell to a girl with a real personality of her own, not just based on some videos of her past self.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is perfect for a teen looking to be introduced to the science fiction genre. I, as a seasoned fan of the genre, still enjoyed the novel, but much of it was pretty predictable. Although young teen friendly, Mary Pearson isn't afraid to bring important and thought provoking questions to the reader's attention: Without memories, what is identity? What defines humanity in a being? Is there a line science shouldn't cross in regards to medical science? These questions make the reader examine their own reasons for their opinions and allows the reader to decide if the actions of the characters are right or wrong. These are questions still being posed in adult science fiction novels, but the young characters and clear writing just make these issues more accessible.

The only issue I had with the novel was the epilogue. I felt it was untrue to the characters and just seemed tacked on. Other than that, I really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading The Fox Inheritence. I would recommend this book to fans of Crashed by Robin Wasserman, which features similar themes and plot.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

LoriStrongin said...

Ooh, sounds interesting! I don't know if I've seen an amnesia-meets-scifi YA story before. And I like the angle that it's the family lying to her, rather than the protag being all on her own as she tries to reconstruct her life alone. I think I'll be adding this one to my TBR pile. Thanks for the rec!