Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

I love this book – which is pretty lucky as it’s another book I am glued to of late because it’s starring in my dissertation. It was first suggested to me by my lecturer and I began reading it late one sleepless night, thinking I’d be ready to sleep by the time I’d finished the first one or two chapters.

When I finally managed to put it down in the early hours of the morning, I just … breathed. Processed. Two days later I read it again. And I’ve read it several times since, not only because I have to but also because I want to. Despite being aimed at the young adult audience, I think it’s a great book for “grown ups” too. My mum read it and the response was along the lines of ‘That was amazing! I loved it! It’s not just about finding yourself, it’s about more than that! Do have any more like it?’ Um, have you seen the boxes in the attic? Pick one!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a beautiful novel that explores the consequences of scientific and environmental issues debated today. Beautifully written with a combination of poetry and prose, it’s an excellent novel to get lost in but it will also leave your brain whirring afterwards. It is also, most importantly, a great bildungsroman for a female audience who is tired of having to read about female characters whose development is accomplished through overcoming gender boundaries and proving girls are as good (or better) than guys, or whose development is dependent on finding love and having responsible monogamous sex. Jenna is a character who has to re-define the boundaries of what it means to be human, challenge her self-perception, and understand the importance of accepting yourself before you can take on the world.

Jenna wakes to discover she has no memories, no friends, and some strained relationships with the family around her. The only connection she has to her past are discs of her growing up and the gradual memories that filter in as the plot progresses. Set in a not-too-distant future that is comfortably realistic, it is easy to get swept along in her journey. It is thought-provoking and it handles ethical debate without the coldly rational lectures that can sometimes dominate Science Fiction novels. There are some fairly typical ideas in the  novel, such as the power-play between parents and adolescents and the desire for peer approval and acceptance, however it is also a really beautiful exploration of what a parent would do for their child.

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