Tuesday, August 31, 2010

REVIEW: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

Who 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.

I really enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I'd been looking forward to it for awhile, and read it bit by bit over the week I was away at a course. I do wish that I'd had more time to focus on it and let the ideas and its themes sink in. But I didn't have that luxury. It didn't matter, it was still really gripping to read.

Jenna Fox wakes up and remembers nothing of her life. She can recite whole sections of Walden and recall strange facts from history, but she has no memories of her own. She's been told she's been in a coma for over a year after a car accident. Her family have mysteriously moved very far away from home. Her father is away for work and her grandmother can barely tolerate being near her. She's given videos of her life, long and detailed videos that seem to capture Jenna Fox growing up from every angle. Jenna Fox in those videos seems to be perfect, and the Jenna Fox who woke up from that coma just doesn't feel right.

The entire book is seen through Jenna's eyes as she slowly discovers more about herself, her life and the things that have happened to her. It's quite chilling, unravelling this mystery. The reader isn't told anything that Jenna herself doesn't know and there's this sense that the secret everyone's keeping is pretty bad. And it is.

But on the way, there's some fantastic themes and issues brought up. Memory and tampering with the mind. The lengths in which a parent would go in order to protect their child. The ethics of bio-engineering. What it is to be human, to have a soul. Jenna struggles with them all, and the reader struggles with her. I was never quite sure what to think. I felt just as confused and unsure as Jenna did.

My only complaint is the ending. I'm not a big fan of epilogues, and this one is no exception. I feel like the distant ending took something away from the book. It could have been just me, but I read the ending and felt myself slump, just a big. Otherwise a really interesting and engaging read.

This has been read as part of Presenting Lenore's Dystopian August! Highly recommended.


  1. I loved seeing the development of the relationship between Jenna and her grandmother in this book; and the revelation of what happened to Jenna is one of the creepiest damn things in any book I've ever read.

  2. Thanks for such an interesting review. I have been wondering about this book for a while. I seem to read the blurb in bookshops all the time but never actually buy it. I'm definitely more tempted now. I like that fact that you say it is chilling and gives you lots to think about.

  3. Thanks for joining Dystopian August! Really enjoyed this one and looking forward to the "companion novel".

  4. Emma - Thanks :)

    Lenore - companion novel? This is the first I've heard of a companion novel!!!

    Becky - oh, I do recommend it! It will give you something to think about, and hopefully it won't be how much you despise it. Feeling nervous now.

    Jenny - YES. I did very much love the relationship between Jenna and the grandmother! I forgot to mention that.


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