Monday, September 17, 2012
Arty -- The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Anyway. The Adoration of Jenna Fox. It's one of those kinda popular, kinda not books that I figured wouldn't be very good. Because 'kinda popular, kinda not' books have this nasty habit of not being very good.
But it was the September book for a book club I'm part of, and another friend rec'd it (who has good taste, if you'll remember Hope Was Here, Pandora Hearts, and Quicksilver). So I got it.
And it was really, really good.
It reminded me of my favorite Margaret Peterson Haddix books, Double Identity. Only three times as well characterized and plotted out and thought-provoking. Yeah, thought-provoking is a good thing in this case. Somehow, Pearson managed to make it thought-provoking without saying "This is a book about THIS subject, now here, make up your mind."
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?
Gosh, that summary just does not give the book justice. It makes it sound so run-of-the-mill. And boring. And uninteresting. And cliché. I'm repeating myself.
One of the things about this book is the writing. It's easy to read, and it sounds like Jenna. It's mechanical and almost surreal at first, as Jenna wakes up. And then it becomes more flexible, more grounded, the more she goes through, the more she remembers or learns. It was just awesome to read.
Another is the characters. Jenna is a great MC - not a favorite, but she didn't leave me wanting to kill her or even just feeling blah about her existence. She actually gets to be likable. (Except with Ethan, the annoying prerequisite 'love interest,' but there were only a few scenes with him.)
The side chars are really fun, especially Lily. Lily was amazing. Jenna's godmother and grandmother figure, she's grounded and realistic and sometimes pretty unlikable but still.. relatable. You get her. And by the end of the book she was my favorite character. Jenna's parents, too, were really well done - very human, not demonized or perfect. So human. And Mr. Bender - I kinda want a book just for him. He sounds like an interesting guy and he didn't have enough scenes.
The action of the novel - if it can be called real action - was very well set up. It started a little slow, but then you get the sense that something's wrong... and it keeps escalating. And escalating. And there comes a point when you think it can't get more horrible for Jenna, but it does. There were a couple times when I thought, "Okay, how is Pearson gonna top this?" and she always does. It drove me crazy and it was brilliant.
Random rant - Pearson actually managed to incorporate Jenna's going to school in an intelligent way. Several plot points revolved around things Jenna did or discovered or heard in school. Which is just great. So many books stick school in there just for the lulz, or to introduce the romantic interest. Which Pearson did, but it was the least important reason.
I really can't find much wrong about this book - except for the random, unnecessary romance with Ethan. Not everybody would love it. But for anyone who likes low-key scifi or interesting books that make you think without pushing it, this is a must-read, just to see if you enjoy it. I'm really excited to read the sequel, Fox Inheritance.