Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Title: The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA, Speculative Fiction

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publishing Date: April 29, 2008
Hardback: 266 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone.

Summary: (from Goodreads)
Who is Jenna Fox?

Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she's still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, her memories, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen?

Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. Along with the memories come questions—questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident?

In this fascinating novel, acclaimed author Mary E. Pearson presents an unforgettable look at one human life and a glimpse into a possible future that may be closer than we think.

I’m having a hard time summing this book up into a tidy little paragraph because it has a little of everything. The story is set in the not-too-distant future and, as the summary says, follows the difficulties of the character Jenna Fox who has just awoken from a coma. But it’s also so much more then that. This book makes you stop and think about what it is that makes us who we are and if our humanity is limited by the cells in our body. It also takes a deep look at family and how perspective can make all the difference.

I have to say right off the bat I’m not very enamored with first person narratives. When they’re done well they’re great, but most of the time they fall flat for me. So when I say this book has one of the best first person narratives I’ve ever read, I really mean it. In fact, Jenna’s POV is what makes this story work. It lends a haunting sort of appeal to the story and I think everyone will relate to Jenna’s search for who she is. Some people will find the choppy narrative off putting, but I don't think it would have worked any other way.

Throughout the book there were poems that often illuminated the internal struggle Jenna was going through and I found them to be exceptionally poignant. Example:
Isn’t that what all of life is anyway?
Shards. Bits. Moments.
Am I less because I have fewer, or do the few I have
mean more?
Am I just as full as anyone else? Enough?
Allys saying “I like you.”
Gabriel snorting out bread, freeing me to laugh.
And Ethan reminding me how much I do know.
I hold them like they are life itself.
They nearly are.
Pearson also included word definitions at the beginning of some of the chapters and I think it was a nice touch. I know it’s kind of disjointing, but language is such an important part of who we are as people that I feel like it just makes sense for Jenna to cling to that.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:
But with all the scenes, the birthdays, the lessons, the practices, the ordinary events that should have been left alone, what I remember most are Jenna’s eyes, flickering, hesitations, an urgent trying. That’s what I remember most from the discs, a desperation to stay on the pedestal. I see that in her eyes as much as I see their color. And now, in the passing of just a few weeks, I see things in faces I didn’t see before. I see Jenna, smiling laughing, chattering. And falling. When you are perfect, is there anywhere else to go? I ache for her like she is someone else. She is. I am not the perfect Jenna Fox anymore.

Right away you can tell something is different about Jenna and it’s not too hard to guess what. But that’s not really the point of the story. Jenna’s journey to self-discovery is really the gem here.

This book also brings up some interesting ideas about ethics in medicine and how the good thing and the right thing are far too often two much different things.

I do think there were some issues left unresolved at the end of the book (like Dane) but I thought it was great overall.

Rating: 7/10

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