Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
Review from Booklist: The ethics of bioengineering in the not-so-distant future drives this story. Jenna, 17, severely injured in a car crash, is saved by her heartbroken father, a scientist who illegally uses the latest medical technology to help her. Only 10 per cent of her original brain is saved, but Dad has programmed her by uploading the high-school curriculum. She could live two years, or 200. Is she a monster or a miracle? Why have her parents hidden her away? The science (including allusions to the dangerous overuse of antibiotics) and the science fiction are fascinating, but what will hold readers most are the moral issues of betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice, and survival. Jenna realizes it is her parents’ love that makes them break the law to save her at any cost. The teen’s first-person, present-tense narrative is fast and immediate as Jenna makes new friends and confronts the complicated choices she must make now. --Hazel Rochman
Review from School Library Journal: Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awakens after more than a year in a coma to find herself in a life—and a body—that she doesn't quite recognize. Her parents tell her that she's been in an accident, but much of her past identity and current situation remain a mystery to her: Why has her family abruptly moved from Boston to California, leaving all of her personal belongings behind? Why does her grandmother react to her with such antipathy? Why have her parents instructed her to make sure not to tell anyone about the circumstances of their move? And why can Jenna recite whole passages of Thoreau's Walden, but remember next to nothing of her own past? As she watches family videos of her childhood, strange memories begin to surface, and she slowly realizes that a terrible secret is being kept from her. Pearson has constructed a gripping, believable vision of a future dystopia. She explores issues surrounding scientific ethics, the power of science, and the nature of the soul with grace, poetry, and an apt sense of drama and suspense. Some of the supporting characters are a bit underdeveloped, but Jenna herself is complex, interesting, and very real. This is a beautiful blend of science fiction, medical thriller, and teen-relationship novel that melds into a seamless whole that will please fans of all three genres.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City
My Thoughts: This book was stunning and thought provoking. I hadn't read the two reviews above until I began writing this post. I decided to read this book because 1) I have a copy in my HS Media Center but have never read it, 2) it was recommended on one of the many blogs I read, 3) it is a YA book and I'm doing a YA challenge, and 4) because I bought the ebook for my Kindle and am doing an ebook challenge.
I am very glad that I decided to read this book now. The prose was both stark and lyrical. The chapters of poetry were especially gripping. This is a science fiction story of the near future that looks at the questions of scientific ethics. The themes seems to be ripped from the headlines -- "superbugs" and government control of scientific research. But it is not so much a political book as it is about the meaning of identity. The question I am still thinking about is "what does it mean to be human?"
I think that thoughtful teens, environmentalists or not, would find much to think about and discuss in this book. You can bet that I will be displaying our copy and talking to my students about it.
Challenges: 2010 YA Reading Challenge, 2010 E-Book Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge