Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson

jennafoxSeventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has survived a terrible car accident. She has no memory of the months after the accident, and memories of her life before are fragmented.  The severe injuries she sustained might explain her loss of memory and her physical symptoms, but there are other pieces of the puzzle that just don’t fit — like why her parents are being so secretive, both with and about her, and why her grandmother seems to dislike and distrust her.  Jenna has to piece together the story of what really happened before and, more importantly, after the accident, in order to understand and accept who she is.

I came across this book because someone recommended it on a blog talking about stories with great surprises in the plot that were very cleverly concealed and then revealed. As a result, I was very annoyed when a review on the book’s Amazon page gave away Jenna’s secret.  For the first 50 pages of the book or so, I was frustrated that I already knew what had happened and didn’t have the experience of figuring it out along with Jenna.  But after that point, Jenna knows the key missing piece of her past, and the rest of the novel is the story of how she learns to cope with that knowledge.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a well-written, fast-paced, slightly futuristic piece of speculative fiction that raises interesting ethical questions in the framework of an engaging story. It’s a good read — even better if you haven’t been spoilered for it!

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Q and A, by Vikas Swarup

qnaThis is, of course, the book upon which the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire is based.  It’s best to say “loosely based,” and I’m glad I was warned beforehand that there are only the most basic similarities between book and movie.  I loved the movie, and if I’d picked up the book expecting to read the same story, I’d have been very disappointed.  As it was, knowing how different the two stories were, I enjoyed both a lot. But it’s important to be forewarned, whichever one you start with.

Both the book and the movie are the story of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who wins the top prize on a popular “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”-style Indian TV quiz show.  In both cases, the boy is uneducated and can answer the quiz questions only because, by bizarre coincidence, luck or fate, every question he gets relates to something that he has seen, heard, or experienced in his impoverished but eventful young life. His life story unfolds in flashbacks as he answers each question.

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