Friday, April 9, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Square Fish, 2009 (Paperback)
Length: 265 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Started: April 7, 2010
Finished: April 9, 2010

From the publisher's website:
Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma—so she’s been told—and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?

Ah, the classic "what does it mean to be human?" story. These never get old for me, perhaps it's because my husband is a sci-fi geek and these types of books are all over our house. It's pretty easy to guess why Jenna doesn't remember anything, the hints are pretty strong even from the very beginning of the book, but there's other issues at play. Jenna was a golden child, loved, adored, complete with the heavy expectations. Now that she's been revived after the accident, those expectations are that she'll resume her previous life, but she knows she is different now, and even if she could go back to being as she was before, she doesn't want to. It is expected that Jenna be perfect, and her parents proved this by the measures they took to ensure she survived the accident, they couldn't simply let her die. In a way, Jenna is more human now then when she actually was human because she realizes that she cannot live the way her parents envisioned for her.

There's a lot of layers to this novel that add to the main idea, mainly a futuristic system that prevents too much medical intervention, which begs the question of how far we would be willing to go to save a person's life if we had the technology? Would we take the barest part of a person and engineer the rest until it's impossible to tell if they're more human or machine? If we would, do others have the right to make this choice for us? For Jenna's parents, there's nothing a parent wouldn't do to save the life of their child, but Jenna argues that at some point, you need to let go. Given all this, the ending is rather unexpected, but I can understand how the author wrote it this way, it's more of an "you should have done this, but since things didn't go that way, I'll do this instead."

If you like books that make you think, read this! This would be perfect for an upper level philosophy or science class, mainly due to the ethics involved, it would make for great classroom discussion.

Thoughts on the cover:
There are a few different covers for this book floating around (different publishers), but I think I like this one the best. The puzzle pieces really say a lot about the theme of the book, how Jenna slowly puts the pieces together and discovers what happened to her and what she should do. The white with blue accents gives it a futuristic feel somehow, and of course, the cover is shiny. As people have guessed, I have a thing for shiny covers.

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