Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox a.k.a. I love dystopian novels

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The Adoration of Jenna Fox
by Mary E. Pearson
★★★★

Jenna is a 17-year –old who wakes up after an 18 month coma. Slowly her memories begin to return and some disturbing truths are revealed. This dystopian novel deals mainly with science vs. ethics and is hard to put down.

I love dystopian novels. Some of my favorite books fall into this category. I love how truths of human nature are often revealed in these stories and the fact that they’re never very far from our current reality. Writing a book set in a future or parallel world gives the author the freedom to explore touchy issues in an abstract way.

In dystopian novels the line between good and bad is always blurred, it is an exploration of gray in a way that shows just how black and white things often are (if that makes any sense.) The bad guys always have a perfectly reasonable explanation for all the choices they’ve made. Sometimes they even make some convincing arguments, but then you remember what they’ve done and you’re horrified that you even considered siding with them for an instant.

*********SPOILERS FOR OTHER DYSTOPIAN BOOKS*********

For example, in Fahrenheit 451 they burn books, in The Giver they have forced euthanasia, in The Hunger Games it’s the slaughter of children for entertainment.

******SPOILER OVER*********

Though I was completely swept away by this book at first, it seemed to unravel a bit in the second half. I don’t think Pearson knew what point she was trying to make. It was like she was using the book as a platform to discuss the issue and in the first half she brought up some chilling points, then in the second half she seemed to just waffle back and forth on whether she thought it was right or wrong.

My favorite part of the whole book is the character of Lily, Jenna’s grandma. She is the grounding factor for me, the one I can relate to. She’s in the story, but she isn’t the one who has made any of the decisions, so she can be a bit more objective.

The inspiration for this book was born out of Pearson’s own experiences. Her eldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer, then a few years later her youngest daughter was diagnosed with the same cancer. Those traumatic events led her to explore the question of science vs. ethics and wonder how far a parent would be willing to go to save their child. It’s a fascinating exploration, but she didn’t seem to be able to answer her own question.

It’s definitely worth reading, but some elements are far-fetched and it seems to really have to reach to wrap everything up at the end. I do think this would be a fun one to discuss in a book club.

Fluttering Butterflies has a great review here.

8 comments:

Alexandra said...

Have you read Never Let Me Go? By far my favorite dystopian in years. I’m actually a bit afraid to go see the movie… who know what they’ll make of it?!

Brenna said...

I like dystopian novels as well, although I haven't read very many. Margaret Atwood is my favorite dystopian author and now I am dying to read Never Let Me Go after reading the comment above.

Becky said...

If you like dystopian novels try James Howard Kunstler's book, The World Made by Hand and The Witch of Hebron. Also, one of the absolute best novels is The Stand by Stephen King or Earth Abides by George Stewart. You can also read Alas Babylon by Pat Frank and of course, the classic, On the Beach by Nevil Shute. Great YA apocalpytic fiction includes Summer of the Apocalyse by James Van Pelt or Susan Beth Pfeffer's series, Life As We Know It. Finally, new YA dystop or post apocalyptic fiction includes Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, The Line by Teri Hall, Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd, Epitaph Road by David Patneaude and Pod by Stephen Wallenfels. New adult fiction includes The Passage by Justin Cronin, One Second After by William Forstchen, Flood by Stephen Baxter or The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Avid Reader said...

Alexandra - I have read it and I loved it. I was so disappointed to see the preview for the film, because it gave everything away! I will probably see the movie, but I was sad that the trailers ruined the end for those who haven't read it.

Brenna - Atwood's Haidmaid's Tale is one of my fav dystopians. She is definitely one of the best authors in that genre.

Becky - Thank you! I've read The Passage and Mockingjay, but most of your recommendations are new to me. They're going on the TBR!

Vaishnavi said...

I have not read much dystopian fiction but I like the sound of this one. Thanks for sharing :)

Jenners said...

I thought this book had some real problems and didn't live up to the promise of the premise (I love that phrase). I wasn't sure if it was the YA label or just me; I did think she waffled a bit and it could have been a much better book. But I was pretty much in the minority on this one. I like the grandmom best too; she was one of the few characters that rang true to me.

Avid Reader said...

Jenners - I remember reading your review and I agreed with many of the things you said. I thought the first half was significantly better and that the author lost her focus towards the end.

Amanda said...

Yep, that's pretty much what my thoughts were on this book. Fell apart in the second half, tried to work with too many ideas...yeah.