Author: Mary E. Pearson
Published by: Henry Holt and Co (2008)
My Rating: ✭✭✩✩✩
SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?
This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.
This is one of those few books that was borderline amazing / too strange. I didn’t know whether to rate it four stars or two.
Let’s start with the positives:
Overall: The writing was good—mysterious, compelling, intriguing…enough revealed every so often to be satisfying, but enough not revealed to keep you wondering. The futuristic sci-fi element was well done, very realistic. The characters were all very, very, very well painted. Jenna’s character was so realistic; other people may complain she sounded too flat, but I think for a person in her situation, it was perfect. Her memories are…just wow, the way they played out; and touching, too.
So, I’ve mentioned amazing writing, a compelling storyline, and awesome characters. Why, then, did I give it such a low rating?
Here’s the thing.
There were swear words, to start, and quite a few of them. Normally I can’t read anything like this, but I kept going on this one for mainly one reason, which is the second thing.
Themes: Throughout the whole book we see glimpses of a Christian life: Jenna’s memory of baptism; her going and working at a church. There is one scene of Jenna, standing in the church, wondering about things like forgiveness and fresh starts. There was so much about it, in fact, that I kept reading past the questionable words and other small things: I thought to myself that possibly it would turn into a Christian-based book and the cursing was only to element her life beforehand, or something like that anyway. Long story short, it fell completely flat. The book even ends with a baptism, but still nothing of starting new or anything. It doesn’t disregard it… but rather, it seemed to be that that aspect was put in there not for a reason, but just to add to the storyline, and I did not appreciate that.
Negatives: Third, adding onto my previous one, there was very creepy elements of spiritual things or whatever it’s called. “Hell” is mentioned more than once and Jenna says things like “I wonder if I have a soul.” One part of the story is the concept of storing people in computer backups, in other words artificially keeping people’s minds alive in a computer, which I thought was plain out strange.
Fourth, there were questionable characters that did questionable things. There are some very—well, let’s just leave it at interesting—love scenes between Jenna and her apparent boyfriend. And overall the story’s ending and reveal of everything was just creepy.
It was tied together well, but the few issues I had were enough to weird me out. Two stars may seem like I didn’t like it, but on Goodreads two stars simply means “it was okay” — and that’s exactly all I have to say about it: It was an okay read. Good idea, good plotline, too much strange. 2.0 stars.