With one exception, this is the perfect antidote to Little Brother: another first-person YA near-future sf novel, which does everything right that the former does wrong. The voice is convincing, the politics are not anvillicious, and everything that needs to be conveyed is done so without resorting to painful infodumps. The exception is that while readers who read further than me had mixed feelings over Doctorow's handling of characters of color, this book's cast seems to be all white. I think. If any weren't, I missed it.

Teenage Jenna Fox wakes up after a coma, but something’s wrong. She can quote all of Walden, but recalls nothing whatsoever of her own life. Her parents moved across the country two weeks before she woke up, and won’t let her contact her friends or go to school. Her grandmother seems to hate her and talks about her in the third person, as if Jenna’s someone else. What’s going on?

An excellent example of breathing new life into a clichéd plot, that's what. By page five of this novel, I knew exactly what had happened to Jenna. But I kept reading because the voice was so compelling, and Jenna’s struggle to understand herself and her situation was painfully real even though I knew exactly what she’d find out.

A lesser book would have saved the completely unsurprising reveal for the end, and stopped just as the book might have gotten more interesting. (In fact, I think I’ve read that book. Repeatedly.) This one has the big reveal occur exactly halfway through, and then forces everyone to deal with the consequences and implications. This not only allows it to grapple with some of the issues raised rather than just raise them, but also to add in some reveals that did surprise me.

I liked the voice a lot. It's not self-consciously OMG I AM TEENAGE, but the emotions are very convincingly adolescent, and that makes the voice seem adolescent. The prose is stripped down to the essentials, as is the plot. The effect is of an archetypal experience happening to a very specific person, and endows the whole novel with the suspense of a thriller.

Recommended.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Here be spoilers )
With one exception, this is the perfect antidote to Little Brother: another first-person YA near-future sf novel, which does everything right that the former does wrong. The voice is convincing, the politics are not anvillicious, and everything that needs to be conveyed is done so without resorting to painful infodumps. The exception is that while readers who read further than me had mixed feelings over Doctorow's handling of characters of color, this book's cast seems to be all white. I think. If any weren't, I missed it.

Teenage Jenna Fox wakes up after a coma, but something’s wrong. She can quote all of Walden, but recalls nothing whatsoever of her own life. Her parents moved across the country two weeks before she woke up, and won’t let her contact her friends or go to school. Her grandmother seems to hate her and talks about her in the third person, as if Jenna’s someone else. What’s going on?

An excellent example of breathing new life into a clichéd plot, that's what. By page five of this novel, I knew exactly what had happened to Jenna. But I kept reading because the voice was so compelling, and Jenna’s struggle to understand herself and her situation was painfully real even though I knew exactly what she’d find out.

A lesser book would have saved the completely unsurprising reveal for the end, and stopped just as the book might have gotten more interesting. (In fact, I think I’ve read that book. Repeatedly.) This one has the big reveal occur exactly halfway through, and then forces everyone to deal with the consequences and implications. This not only allows it to grapple with some of the issues raised rather than just raise them, but also to add in some reveals that did surprise me.

I liked the voice a lot. It's not self-consciously OMG I AM TEENAGE, but the emotions are very convincingly adolescent, and that makes the voice seem adolescent. The prose is stripped down to the essentials, as is the plot. The effect is of an archetypal experience happening to a very specific person, and endows the whole novel with the suspense of a thriller.

Recommended.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Here be spoilers )
.

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