The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
(Amazon / Goodreads)
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?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This book was really different from what I though it would be. The description I posted makes you (well, at least it made me) think it's about a girl who loses her memory after a car accident, and I thought the main topic would be identity and figuring out who you are as a person and all of that. What I didn't know, though, was that it takes place in the future, where medicine and technology are more advanced, and - I don't want to give too much away, but the main questions were how far you should go to save a life, and whether someone with a recreated body is still human - those kind of questions. The question of identity was still part of the novel, it just didn't play an as important role as I'd thought.
Because of those differences, this book was hard for me to get into, at least in the beginning. I thought what Jenna does and does not remember was kind of random - for example she remembers the basic language, but some normal words she doesn't know anymore. I'm no expert on this, but I think all the information about language and communication is in one part of the brain, so I'm not sure how that's supposed to work. But please correct me if I'm wrong! I did enjoy the definitions of certain words in between, though.
Anyways, later I understood what she does and doesn't remember - it was constructed to fit what the reader knows. For example, Jenna knows what we today think is normal for society, but she doesn't know the recent developments in technology, science and medicine, just like the reader. While I enjoyed discovering everything along with Jenna, those differences were a little too constructed to be realistic, in my opinion.
The writing was pretty good and most of the metaphors and choice of words were beautiful, but a lot of parts were too melodramatic, especially the parts written in verse. The dialogue was also a bit strange at times - sometimes the topics switched so quickly that it seemed more like a conference where you have to discuss certain points than like a normal conversation.
The characters were okay and most of them were interesting to get to know, but at times they seemed more like plot devices than actual people, each representing one opinion. I'm not sure what I can say about Jenna as a character, as (like Jenna herself) we don't really know who she is for most of the book, but I can say she was easy to relate to and usually understandable. I loved the relationship between Lily and Jenna. The romance between Jenna and Ethan was cute for the most part, but happened too quickly, in my opinion.
*I tried to make this as un-spoiler-y (I know, great word) as possible, but the next paragraph contains vague information about the ending, which could be considered spoilers.*
I was pretty disappointed by the ending. The book raised lots of interesting questions, but in my opinion, if a book really wants you to get thinking about a topic, it should raise those questions without answering them, leaving that to the reader to decide for himself. I don't want to give too much away, but in my opinion, the ending was too partial to leave those questions open. The ending seemed to be justifying the use of every possible technology to save a life - one of the characters who was decidedly against such measures suddenly changed her mind, making it almost seem like that's the lesson to be learned from this book, which I thought was strange.
While my review sounds very negative, I did enjoy this book as a whole - the plot kept me interested and raised some interesting questions. However, I had quite a few problems with the execution, especially how constructed the plot and also the characters seemed. The writing was okay. I recommend this to you only if you're really interested in the topic.