Sometime in the near future, Jenna Fox, 17, awakens from an 18-month-long coma following a devastating accident, her memory nearly blank. She attempts reorientation by watching videos of her childhood, "recorded beyond reason" by worshipful parents, but mysteries proliferate. Jenna can recite passages from Thoreau yet can't remember having any friends. As memories return, however, Jenna starts picking at the explanation her parents have spun until it unravels. Pearson (A Room on Lorelei Street ) uses each revelation to steadily build tension until the true horror comes into focus. Even then Pearson does not stop; she raises the ante in unexpected ways until the very last page. Clues are supplied by the supporting cast: Jenna's father, who made his fortune in biotechnology; a classmate whose loss of limbs has turned her into a crusader for medical ethics; Jenna's Catholic grandmother, who is hostile to her. A few lapses in logic- if Jenna's father is world-famous and the family in hiding, why does she enroll in school under her real name?-can be forgiven in favor of expert plotting and the complex questions raised about ethics and the nature of the soul. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
She wasn't supposed to survive the accident.
But she did.
Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox wakes from a coma and doesn’t know who she is. She has been involved in a horrific accident and is brought home to recuperate with her mother and her grandmother, two women she does not remember. In fact, she is not really at home; her parents have moved miles away to give her time to fully recover. And, she has the distinct impression that her grandmother is angry with her. When Jenna insists on being able to go back to school, she is sent to a charter school where every student has had some difficulty to overcome--some have emotional scars, like Ethan; others, like Allys, are struggling with physical handicaps. Jenna becomes friends with both, and quadriplegic Allys draws Jenna and Ethan into a political passion for strict medical controls. Gradually Jenna starts to glimpse her past life, the accident, and strange memories that don’t make sense to her until she is able to come face to face with the medical practice that has saved her. The novel is part mystery and part science fiction. Set in the future, it raises issues of biomedical ethics, suspended animation and the enduring human spirit. Jenna narrates, and we experience her confusion as she struggles to make sense of events she only vaguely remembers. Students will be intrigued by the medical treatments that allow her to recover and there is much to debate in terms of how far science should go in medical treatment. Is there a line that should not be crossed? This is fascinating and thought provoking. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
Gr 9 Up
Mary Pearson's novel (Holt, 2008) provides a thought-provoking and intriguing examination of what really makes us human and where to draw the line with fast developing technological and medical advances. Jenna Fox wakes from a coma more than a year after having an "accident." With no memory, she slowly learns to function physically, but she can't seem to connect emotionally. Written in a beautiful symphony of revealed memories, Jenna slowly begins to recognize that a secret is being kept from her and something complex and dangerous is going on. As she realizes that she essentially died in the infamous "accident" and was reborn through her father's controversial discovery. Jenna begins to question biomedical ethics and human nature. Narrator Jenna Lamia excels at evoking the haunting, yet detached way that Jenna begins to connect the events in her life. Combining science fiction, medical mystery, and teen relationships into an excellent package that is satisfying from beginning to end, this is a must-have for all collections.-Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
“* ...raises the ante in unexpected ways until the very last page.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“* This is a beautiful blend of science fiction, medical thriller, and teen-relationship novel that melds into a seamless whole that will please fans of all three genres.” School Library Journal, starred review
“* Outstanding examination of identity, science and ethics.” Kirkus, starred review
“Readers will respond eagerly to this provocative novel.” Kirkus Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Special
“…what will hold readers most are the moral issues of betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice, and survival.” Booklist
“Fascinating and thought provoking.” Kliatt
“This novel is truly unlike any other I have ever read and is a breath of fresh air in the often predictable world of teen literature.” ELLEgirl
“This is an amazingly powerful, thought-provoking, just brilliant novel.” Teen Book Review
“An extraordinarily fine novel.” Voya
“Gut-punch plot twists.” The Seattle Times
Read an Excerpt
I look at my fingers again, the ones that trembled and shook just a few days ago at Mr. Bender’s kitchen table. I bring them together, fingertip to fingertip, like a steeple. Each one perfect by appearance. But something is not . . . right. Something that I still have no word for. It is a dull twisting that snakes through me. Is this a tangled feeling that everyone my age feels? Or is it different? Am I different? I slide my steepled fingers, slowly, watching them interlace. Trying to interlace, like a clutched desperate prayer, but again, I feel like the hands I am lacing are not my own, like I have borrowed them from a twelve-fingered monster. And yet, when I count them, yes, there are ten. Ten exquisitely perfect, beautiful fingers.
Meet the Author
Mary E. Pearson is the author of bestselling, award-winning novels for teens. The Miles Between was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox was listed as a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, an IRA Young Adult Choice, NYPL Stuff for the Teen Age, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. She is also the author of A Room on Lorelei Street, David v. God, and Scribbler of Dreams.
Pearson studied at Long Beach State University and San Diego State University. She writes full-time from her home in Carlsbad, California, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.
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