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.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5
(review may contain minor spoilers)
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson is not a book that you can put into a box. It is a myriad of genres and a myriad of topics thrown into one novel. To be perfectly honest, this book was not one of my favorites. It did not deliver what was promised in the very intriguing synopsis. I have read a great deal of books that deal with amnesia in some way, but never one that took on a sci-fi perspective so I was excited to dive into this book. To be fair, the opening was very gripping and in general, the novel was well-written.
We start out with our narrator showing us what she knows right off the bat.
I used to be someone.
Someone named Jenna Fox.
That’s what they tell me. But I am more than a name. More than they tell me. More than the facts and statistics they fill me with. More than the video clips they make me watch.
More. But I’m not sure what.
I really liked Jenna’s voice from the very beginning. She was honest and blunt and you could feel the detachment coming from her as she acknowledged that she really didn’t understand herself. She was plain in the best way possible. Having a distinct lack of memories left her as sort of a blank slate and I really liked how she chose to fill it in.
To expand on the above point, Jenna was the kind of character you rooted for from the start. I wanted her to succeed and I wanted her to figure everything out. She had this quality about her that made you want to hug her and help her find everything that she was looking for. She was disjointed and completely realistic in terms of her narration. Jenna Fox woke up without any memory of who she had been before the accident. She didn’t even remember that there was an accident. She relied on what her parents told her and what she could pull from the pieces of memories that started coming back. She questions things that she doesn’t understand and it makes you feel for her.
A Question I Will Never Ask Mother:
I may not remember everything, but I know there should be these things.
I know when someone is sick that people check on her.
What kind of person was Jenna Fox that she didn’t have any friends?
Was she someone I even want to remember?
Everyone should have at least one friend.
Jenna refers to her parents as “Father” and “Mother” and I really like how it showed the audience how truly detached Jenna felt from her everything around her, including her family. She calls her grandmother Lily instead of by a term of familial endearment.
Jenna’s parents were rather bland and not in a good way. I couldn’t feel anything for them because they never popped for me. It was like they were just strangers to me. When Jenna figures out what they did, their explanation didn’t redeem them in my eyes in the slightest. They didn’t feel like a family to me, though the father was more endearing than the mother.
Lily, the grandmother, is the only member of the family that really stood out to me. I enjoyed her honesty and her reactions to the things that were going on around her. She was fresh and I liked it.
“I don’t hate you, Jenna,” she finally says. “I simply don’t have room for you.” Harsh words, but her voice is tender and the contradiction is a stony reminder that I am missing something vital. I know the old Jenna Fox would have understood. But the timbre of Lily’s voice calms me just the same. I nod, like I understand.
As for other characters, I felt most of them were unnecessary. I enjoyed Bender and I enjoyed Ethan. It felt like Dane was completely pointless. He had half a story line. He’s just this jerk that shows up once or twice with no backstory or explanation for his behavior. It was out of the blue and paused the story for no reason. Allys was interesting to a point and then she just became annoying and seemed to have no motivation. For all of the other minor characters, it felt like half their characterization was missing. They were just kind of there.
The plot itself could have been a lot better. As I stated before, the premise was extremely interesting to me, which is one of the reasons I was so disappointed. Every plot twist was easy to see coming and it felt like the story was mainly Jenna thinking to herself about what she was and where she belonged. Her narration was flawless for the most part, but I wanted more action. I wanted more characterization and more plot.
The ending absolutely pissed me off because of how rushed it was. It was like we finally get to a conflict that has the potential to cause major panic and it was completely skipped over. The conflict is introduced and boom! The conflict is suddenly resolved and we’re looking at things over a hundred years later and everything is just dandy. It was ridiculous and I hated it. When I first read it, I thought I’d accidentally skipped a few chapters. This was not the case.
I have to give this book 3 stars because Jenna’s narration was beautiful, as well as Lily and Ethan’s characterization. However, everything else fell flat. The minor characters were boring and the plot itself was laughable at parts. There was really no conflict except for Dane’s random appearances and Jenna’s existence. However, neither of these conflicts were given the chance to really blossom and lead to character development and a climactic turning point. Bottom line is this book was extremely disappointing. There were some high points, but in the end, too many things were missing to make this an enjoyable read. Sadly, I would not recommend this novel.
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