The Fox Inheritanceby Mary E. Pearson
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.
In a thought-provoking, atmospheric follow-up to The Adoration of Jenna Fox (2008), Pearson again contemplates bioengineering and the nature of humanity.
Some 260 years after Jenna Fox's father used controversial technology to upload Jenna's mind into an imitation body, Jenna's friends Locke and Kara, presumed dead in the same car accident, are uploaded into new bodies of their own. Both traumatized and connected to each other by the years their minds spent locked in claustrophobic "environments," the pair live for a year with Gatsbro, the doctor who brought them back. Then Kara discovers the exploitative ends for which he is keeping them, and the two flee their captivity with the (perhaps too convenient) help of an unexpected ally. Their journey from Gatsbro's facility through a greatly changed America and ultimately toward Jenna Fox, still alive in her BioGel body, is harrowing and eye-opening, but the heart of the story is its meditation on what it means to be human. Is Locke human, his consciousness uploaded into a taller, more malleable body? Is Kara, who has lost her compassion? What about Dot, a legless robot engineered only to drive a cab, who is nonetheless strong-willed, brave and rebellious?
Though action scenes are occasionally predictable or over too soon, the book's timely and haunting questions will leave thoughtful readers with much to ponder. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
“In this futuristic follow-up, Pearson pries open the most haunting element of Jenna Fox's world: disembodied minds trapped in computers. Questions of human identity and nightmarish medical technology drive this riveting, thought-provoking sequel.” Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
“This is a mesmerizing story that will be greeted enthusiastically by Jenna Fox fans.” VOYA
“The ethical debates around whether science should be limited by conscience and not just ability are well integrated into a story that is equally strong as an exploration of home, identity, and the meaning of survival.” BCCB
“A gripping story that begs the question: Do you really know what lies at the genesis of your friend's biology, psyche or even their heart?” Shelf Awareness
“The story is gripping, urgent, and highly appealing.” School Library Journal
“It is through his [Locke's] viewpoint that we experience the confusing futuristic world, the thrilling suspense of the chase, the charged emotional reunion of the friends, and the admirably complex playing out of the issues of trust, ethics, and betrayal.” Horn Book Magazine
“* A dazzling blend of science fiction, mystery, and teen friendship drama.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The book's timely and haunting questions will leave thoughtful readers with much to ponder.” Kirkus Reviews
Read an Excerpt
My hands close around the heavy drape, twisting it into a thick cord.
About the same thickness as a neck.
I drop my hands to my sides and wipe them on my trousers like someone might see my thoughts on my palms. Someone like Dr. Gatsbro. I wonder just how much he really knows about me.
I look out the window. From the second floor, Dr. Gatsbro is a speck on the lawn. The girl I’m supposed to know stands a few yards away from him. I watch him talking to her. She ignores him like he is nothing more than vapor. I don’t know if it’s deliberate, or if her mind is trapped, like mine often is, in another dark lifetime that won’t let me go. There’s a lot I don’t understand about her, at least the way she is now, and though I’m a head taller and at least fifty pounds heavier than she is, I’m afraid of her. What is it? Something in her eyes? But I’m not sure I can trust my own eyes yet. Even my hands frighten me. Does Dr. Gatsbro know this too? He seems to know everything.
I turn away, looking at a wall of ancient bound books, and another wall covered with artifacts that reach back to some primordial age. Dr. Gatsbro is a collector. Are we part of his collection? Like stolen paintings that can’t be shown to anyone? Only for private viewing? His estate is miles from anywhere, and we have never been beyond its gates.
He has spent the last year teaching us, helping us, explaining to us, testing us. But some things in this world are unexplainable. Maybe that’s where he made his mistake, especially with us. Three months ago, he stopped being teacher and became prey. At least for her. I fear for him. I fear for me.
I return to the window to see if they’re coming. It’s time for our morning appointment. They’re closer to the house now, but Dr. Gatsbro is still yards from her. I try to read his lips, a skill I never had before, but his hand cups his chin and blocks my view.
Her back is to me. Her head tilts in one direction, and then slowly in the other, like she’s weighing a thought. She suddenly whirls and looks straight up at the window. At me. She smiles, her eyes as cold as ice. Her lips purse together in a kiss, and I feel their frost on my cheek.
I cannot turn away, though I know that would be the safest thing to do. I cannot turn away because she has an advantage over me. I cannot turn away for a reason she knows too well.
Because I love her.
She is all I have left.
I force my legs to move. To step away from the window. One step. Another. The last thing I see is her head toss back as she laughs. I fall backward into Dr. Gatsbro’s chair, running my hands over the arms, listening to the quiet rasp of skin on leather, listening to his antique clock tick, listening to the squeak of the chair as I rock, and finally, listening to their footsteps on the stairs—his, heavy and shuffling; hers, like a cat, following stealthily behind.
“Locke, you’re here. Good.” Dr. Gatsbro crosses the room, and I relinquish his seat to him. He sits down, and I listen to the whoosh of air that leaves the chair under his weight, like the breath has been snuffed from it. “Sorry if we kept you waiting. We lost track of time out in the garden. Isn’t that right, Kara?”
She looks at me, her eyes narrowing to slits, her hair a shiny black curtain barely sweeping her shoulders. Her lips are perfect, red as they have always been, red as I remember, but the smile behind them is not the same.
“That’s right, Doc,” she answers. “Time got away from us.”
“Shall we begin, then?” Dr. Gatsbro asks.
I think she already has.
Text copyright © 2011 by Mary E. Pearson
Meet the Author
MARY E. PEARSON is the author of five previous novels for teens, including The Adoration of Jenna Fox and A Room on Lorelei Street. She writes full-time from her home in Carlsbad, California, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.
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