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The Adoration of Jenna Fox

de Mary E. Pearson

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2,9242704,690 (3.82)1 / 205
In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.
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Part science fiction and part teenage self-discovery, The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a curious blending of the two genres that is as unsettling as it is thought-provoking. The “Jenna” who is the narrator/protagonist of Adoration is merely a ghost of the original. She has no memories of what Jenna Fox was like–except those told to her by her parents and from the dozens of vids of her growing up. Sometimes she’ll catch a glimpse of that Jenna, the one her parents obsessively adored and expected so much from, but those snatches of memory scare her because she can’t see herself within them.

Jenna is an unreliable narrator, at best, for a good third of the book, since she doesn’t form her own ideas or opinions until the truth of who she is comes to light. Her whole life revolves around trying desperately to please her mother, confusion over why her grandmother dislikes her so much, and endless questions about what happened to her. She can remember in painstaking detail the writings of Walden, but can’t remember what words like “friend” or “accident” mean.

When Jenna forces the issue of what happened to her, things begin to build. The urgency she feels to find out who Jenna Fox is becomes unbearable because she knows, with startling finality, that she can never be that Jenna Fox again. Her parents may want to believe otherwise, but Jenna is a realist. No matter how often she views those vids of growing up, or how many stories she hears, that Jenna is gone. Except she has no idea who that Jenna was, either.

The prodigal daughter, perfectly obedient? The miracle child her parents suffocated with love and expectations? The slightly giddy teen who feels guilty but free when skipping a school assembly with her two best friends? The teenager who did everything with such desperation so as not to disappoint her parents? Or the haunted youth, frustrated with the 24/7 surveillance of her life and inability to have a private moment?

The Jenna who narrates Adoration slowly builds relationships–not just with her parents, but also with classmates Allys and Ethan and neighbor Mr. Bender. Its difficult for her, as she tries to remember what “normal” is, and is hesitant in everything she does. Her relationship with Ethan is the hardest, because they’re both socially damaged and view the world from a different angle then everyone else. There are complications within her friendship with Allys, partially because of who Jenna is and partially because of what is wrong with Allys, that are resolved in an unexpected way.

The science fiction part of Adoration weaves itself throughout. The book itself is set not that far into the future (no specific year is given) in a world where antibiotics and over-medication have destroyed humanity’s immune system to the point where a new strain of flu devastated the population of the world. At least, that’s my understanding of what happened. The book is set in a very present-tense sort of way since we’re learning about it as Jenna does. What is important is that a new faction arose from the turmoil of that new virus–the FSEB, The Federal Science Ethics Board–that controls how many surgeries you are allowed, what sort of medicine you can get, and to a certain extent quality of life.

The book can be considered three acts; Act 1 is when Jenna is freshly woken up from her coma and attempting to figure out what’s going on, Act 2 is when she has fragments of her old life and who Jenna Fox is but can’t fit those fragments together, and Act 3 is her attempt to build a bridge between who she was and who she is.

Act 1 is often confusing and a little creepy. There is something off about Jenna, something more than having been in a coma for over a year, that makes it hard to relate to her. She feels aggravated by her parents and their restrictions, but she isn’t certain why. She remembers things she should have no knowledge of, but can’t remember who her best friends were. Because we’re learning as she is about the world and her situation, it’s hard to take anything she says at face value.

Act 2 sheds light on practically everything–from who Jenna is, to the accident, and why her parents are so obsessive. This is when Jenna starts to become an individual and really begins to question everything. She’s able to go to school and really see, for the first time, the vast difference between herself and her classmates. She begins to actively try and understand what it means to be Jenna Fox.

Act 3 is the proverbial Fall. Jenna has to choose between who she is becoming and who her parents want her to be and everything that is involved therein. Allys becomes ill, Jenna’s secret gets out, and an irreparable choice is made to correct a horrible wrong.

The end felt right for the book. I have no problems there. I have issues with the epilogue that creates more questions, but doesn’t answer others. The issue of Dane is not truly resolved, and I would have liked to see more about how Allys took her parents’ decision. If the epilogue had been left off, these wouldn’t have been a problem, because the end itself gives the reader a sense of ambiguous hope, but the epilogue then decides to clarify only certain aspects.

Aside from those nitpicks, however, I really enjoyed this book. The version I read, from Square Fish, has additional information after the novel itself–discussion questions and an interview with the author that gives a more in-depth view of the future she envisioned–that really added to the experience of the book as a whole. I strongly recommend this book. ( )
  lexilewords | Dec 28, 2023 |
Great premise. Sadly, it flagged about two-thirds of the way through. Fantastic start though. ( )
  nogomu | Oct 19, 2023 |
UPDATE - REVIEW ADDED

Well this is quite a slow story with a very interesting premise.

Sadly I think the blurb gives away a bit too much as Readers will know what to expect and then, despite being a shortish novel, discover it takes a really long time to get there. It does pose some interesting philosophical questions about what makes us human, and how far a parent would go to save their child. I still think this is a solid YA book and will definitely be using it in booktalks. Starting book two!

UPDATE: 05/06/2021 - Rereading so I can write a review and potentially continue the series.

3.5 Stars ( )
  Mrs_Tapsell_Bookzone | Feb 14, 2023 |
I don't typically like books set in the future but it wasn't futuristic with people living on other planets and stuff. Still very now. If that makes sense. A quick read. Brings up a lot of issues about bio-ethics and makes you think about what you would have done or wanted in the same situation. ( )
  WellReadSoutherner | Apr 6, 2022 |
Teen; Science Fiction. I didn't find this one very engaging (the narrator's voice is almost robot-like, for reasons that are revealed toward the end) so I skimmed through a lot of it. It may have been better suited for a short story rather than a novella, so that the reader doesn't have to wait so long for the title character to confirm his suspicions, but then again, maybe there are too many sci-fi short stories bordering on these ideas already. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.

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Mary E. Pearson és un autor/a de LibraryThing, un autor/a que afegeix la seva biblioteca personal a LibraryThing.

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Mitjana: (3.82)
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