Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Recommendation: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is an insightful novel by Mary E. Pearson about the possible future of medical technology.

Jenna Fox has just woken up after a year and a half in a coma. She remembers nothing of her life, her family, or herself. How own body sometimes feels strange to her. And her grandmother acts as if she's someone else, as if Jenna Fox has died and she's an imposter in Jenna's skin.

When I first read a review of the book with a brief description of the plot, I thought I had the story all figured out. I sometimes (perhaps unfoundedly) pride myself on being able to work out plot twists well in advance. But the idea of this book sounded interesting, so I decided to pick it up when I had the chance, even though I thought I knew what to expect.

I'm happy to report that I was wrong. I discovered pretty quickly that my initial expectations based on the review weren't quite right, though I formed other expectations right away about the “big reveal” that I could see coming.

And then the reveal came and went and there was still more than half the story to go! I wasn't even close to prepared for the plot twists still to come. Pearson handled me and my expectations as masterfully as she handles everything else in this book.

The pacing is spot on. I never felt the story drag, and in every circumstance Pearson feeds her readers just the right amount of information. In the background I can't help thinking “hurry, Jenna, hurry” right along with the voices in her head, even though I don't yet know what it is she's hurrying toward.

The character dynamics are rich and intricate. Every one of them adds something to each scene. Each of the characters develops in some way, and I enjoyed watching those changes unfold. The relationship between Jenna and her grandmother was particularly rewarding.

The writing is near flawless. It never got in the way. There were some great subtleties to it, particularly in the way the first person style changed over time. The language evolved as Jenna's mentality evolved, from impersonal and almost stilted, to fluent and engaged.

This may well be the best book I've read in a while, and I've read a lot of good books lately. This is one you won't want to miss.

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