Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

I promised an occasional book review and decided to start with a terrific YA (young adult) dystopian novel called The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

First of all, for those who may be unfamiliar with the terms YA and dystopian, allow me to provide brief definitions. In the realm of children's literature, there are four basic age divisions: picture books, chapter books, middle grade and YA. The target age for YA is between 12 & 18 years and usually presents topics a little more mature than those found in middle grade fiction. That's not to say all YA books have sex or drugs or foul language. Most do not. But the issues are more serious, more urgent.

Dystopian is a sub-genre of speculative fiction (ie. science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.). I heard a great description given by Catherine Linka, the children's book guru at Flintridge Bookstore & Coffee House. (I hope I get this right.) Dystopian fiction is a story set in a near or distant future society that has gone terribly wrong in some way. Natural disaster, war, out of control government or some other event has created a nightmare world. Sometimes the world may appear "normal", but bad things are brewing below the surface. Other times everything is off kilter.

Some examples of dystopian fiction you might recognize include Orwell's 1984, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Lowry's The Giver, and most recently Collins' The Hunger Games.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson at first appears to be a story about a normal teenage girl living in a normal Southern California suburb. The only thing out of the ordinary is that she has just awaken from a year long coma and her memory is a bit splotchy. Her mother and grandmother, with whom she lives, have given her a set of home movies to help trigger her memory. As the story progresses, we soon discover that Jenna's world is reeling from a horrible killer epidemic and the laws imposed by a government determined to prevent anything like it from happening again. Not only is Jenna's society not what we first suspect, neither is Jenna.

I had the privilege of meeting Mary Pearson at a writers' conference in Ventura. I loved that she is a mom of teens, just like me. Very down to earth - very "normal." She was inspired to write this book after her daughter's battle with a life threatening illness (which she won, thank goodness.)Mary asked the question, how far would a parent go to save her child? Jenna Fox compels us to ask this question as well.

There is no sex in this book, though there is some kissing. I don't recall there being any obscenities either. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is definitely worth your attention.

1 comment:

  1. I still haven't read this book, but it sounds amazing. I loved hearing the author speak in Ventura, and yes, it was nice to see how normal she is. Sometimes I imagine authors as stuffy people, but they're really just people.