The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna FoxWho is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson’s vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

Standalone or Series? Series. Jenna Fox Chronicles #1
Format: Ebook, 187 pages
Published: September 01 2009
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Author’s Site: http://www.marypearson.com/
Author on Tweeter: @marypearson
Buy:The Book Depository (Hardcover) or paperback

 

First Thoughts

Well the blurb certainly promises a lot! Love the cover, if this is an exploration about our identities and what it is to be human then the jigsaw puzzle design seems a good fit.

Plot

Jenna Fox awakes from a year long coma. She learns the facts of the world outside – such as since she was last awake the US has had it’s second female president elected – what she can’t figure out is why she can’t remember her own life prior to her accident. Why can she not walk one day and then can the other? Why can’t she remember something from just before the accident but suddenly remembers a clear sharp memory from when she was an infant? The plot unspools bit by bit, and the jigsaw cover design really is reflective of the Jenna’s story, because she’s trying to put together all of the pieces and knows for certain that her parents are hiding something from her – something that’s made them have to leave their home in Boston, something that makes Jenna’s grandmother wary.Rating 4 out of 5

Pacing

This is a suspenseful read, so it hold ones attention from start to finish. Although you’ll have your suspicions, Mary E Pearson keeps the story moving forward at Jenna’s pace of discovery. Since Jenna is on a journey of discovery she starts out her life the way the reader starts out with this book – knowing only what she’s been told and sensing that so much more is being withheld. This book isn’t an action adventure so don’t expect there to be a massive showdown, but do expect all the answers that you’ve been looking for, mixed in with a little romance and the gift of friendship for Jenna, who had lost her two closest friends in the accident she survived. Rating 4 out of 5

Characters

Being in Jenna’s head is a great reading experience, because her character is still trying to discover what she does and doesn’t like. She’s also learning snippets about the Jenna she used to be, and isn’t quite sure the real past Jenna was who her parents thought she was, or even someone she herself would like.  What is it in ourselves that sometimes makes us two people? Was original Jenna never really Jenna before the accident…simply a teen who tried to be perfect for two parents who adored her? Is this why on waking Jenna struggles with her identity or is the new Jenna nothing like the old?

One thing that does seem to hold true about her from the past and into the present, is that she has her own mind. Jenna is stubborn, and when her father tells her she can’t eat regular food and has to survive on some specialist gloop, she’s determined to chow down like anyone else. A little bit of rebellion in a very controlled environment.

Thanks to Jenna’s determination she gets her parents to let her out of the house and into a local school, which has just a handful of students.  Her interaction with the other students helps us experience Jenna’s capacity for love and fear.  Her love interest, Ethan, is only in a few key scenes, but those scenes feel very real and there’s no hint of insta-love.

The relationships between Jenna and her standoffish grandmother, barely there father and over-protective mother work; the way the characters move and interact is believable and fascinating. Rating 4 out of 5

World Building

The near future America has been devastated by a plague that’s wiped out a massive share of the world’s population. Systems collapsed and everywhere one turns there’s signs of the ruin of an old age. Jenna’s parents are some of the luckiest survivors and her father in particular was one of the wealthiest doctors in Boston. Jenna attended an exclusive school and had two close friends, but after the accident she’s in the middle of one of the least populated parts of America and under the watchful eye of her grandmother. Rating 4 out of 5

Overall

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a beautiful blend of sci-fi, teen romance, and coming of age. Questions of identity and ethics are placed under the microscope as we get to know Jenna Fox and try to make sense of her world with her. There’s a beautiful poignancy to the story that makes it as memorable as the underlying eagerness and hopes for the future. Rating: 4 out of 5 (from 16 out of 20)

I’ve had to take a key piece of information out in the quote below, as it would be a  spoiler, sigh, but I think it’s still lovely.

“I’m afraid of my thoughts, my feelings. I’m afraid of my fingers against a sunlit window and the shocking relief that comes with it. when I should feel shame. I’m afraid that I feel wildly alive and grateful and like the Special Entitled Miracle Child Jenna Fox…. I’m afraid of a hundred things including you, Ethan, because everything in the universe says it’s not right, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting it.” – Pg. 212, 213

11 Comments

  1. This book sounds so good Katja, I’m always on the lookout for a book which deals with memory loss, and the way that you’ve described in your review how all the different aspects worked for you, I think this book could certainly work for me too. I also look how the cover represents, the separate pieces that Jenna’s trying to get together. Lovely review Katja! 🙂

  2. This sounds really interesting! I love a good dystopian sci-fi novel! Definitely will be adding it to my TBR list. Plus, the cover is simply beautiful!

    Also, I’m not sure if I ever told you this, but I am absolutely in love with your blog layout! I love how you break things down in your review. It’s very organized and thoughtful 🙂

    – Emma @ Books Forget Me Knot

  3. I saw this one the other day, huh. I’ve seen mixed thoughts but it surely does sound promisng! I think I’ll try this one when I find some time.

    Wonderful review, Katja! Good to hear it’s a suspenseful read. 😀

  4. I really liked this book! It was one of my first Sci-Fi’s in a long time and it was great. The next book was a bit of a disappointing, but I’m looking forward to the last one 🙂 Great review!

  5. I haven’t seen too many reviews for this one, but it’s definitely got my attention so it’s great that you enjoyed it! I’m glad the world building was good – futuristic novels NEED a good development of their worlds, and they only disappoint if that factor isn’t done properly. I also find it intriguing how it seems like the book is about two stories of the same person, if that makes sense. Jenna sounds like a really unique and unforgettable character – props to that! Wonderful review, Katja. Hope I’ll get the chance to read this in the future. 🙂

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