Saturday, 9 April 2011

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

A seventeen-year-old girl wakes from a year-long coma and is told her name is Jenna Fox. She doesn't remember the accident; she doesn't remember her life; she doesn't remember herself. Her parents show her home movies of her past, but is she really the same girl she sees on the screen? When the memories start to come, they come with questions – questions no one wants to answer. How did the accident happen? Why does her own grandmother hate her so? And why does she feel her parents are hiding her away? Who is Jenna Fox? 

What I liked

  • The pacing of the book is great. The intrigue is established from the very first few pages: Why are Jenna’s parents trying to keep her hidden? Why does her grandmother Lily appear to dislike her? What happened to everybody else in Jenna’s life? I wanted to know, so I kept reading and got my answers in a timely fashion. If you’ve read or watched any sci-fi before, you’ll have some idea of what's happened to Jenna, so it’s a very good thing that Pearson gives you the big revelation about a third of the way in and doesn’t drag it out unnecessarily. However, Jenna’s discoveries about her parents and her past life don’t end there and there are enough new twists to hold your interest to the end.
  • The writing is lovely; some of it reads like poetry. At the end of each chapter there’s a passage printed on a silver page – I'm not sure what it’s supposed to represent (Jenna’s coldness and detachment?) but it’s a very pretty effect.
  • It’s set in a future/alt universe that feels plausibly real. A man-made virus has wiped out millions of lives and now medicine is heavily controlled, as it is believed that science has gone too far – and the book makes a good argument that it has. This is a novel that asks philosophical questions: What is it that makes us human and what makes us the people we are?
  • Jenna’s relationships with her family members are layered and interesting. Jenna’s parents are helicopter parents of the worst kind and I’m sure many teens today would relate to the pressure Jenna has grown up with; feeling the need to be perfect. And at the beginning of the book, grandmother Lily seems like a cold bitch, but you really come to understand her position and why she treats Jenna the way she does. By the end, Lily was my favourite character.

What I didn’t like

  • What is it with YA novels and totally unnecessary epilogues? After Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, The Adoration of Jenna Fox is another book that makes this (IMO) misstep. I thought the book ended perfectly with an open ending, but the last chapter wraps everything up tidily. Like I said, the book asks intriguing questions about humans and science and to me, the last chapter seemed to answer them instead of leaving you thinking. Me no likey.

  • Beautifully written, developed characters and a plot that will get you musing on the meaning of life. Definitely worth reading.

Note: This is my first review for my blog! I've written in the way I think, if that makes sense and I'll carry on with this style and see if it works. If not, I'll adapt it.

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