The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Across the Universe, Champion, and All Our Yesterdays

blue morpho

Hurrah for YA speculative/dystopian fiction. There’s nothing like remembering you are no longer full of teenage angst, nor is the world disintegrating as a result of natural disaster, antibiotic resistance, or runaway time travel to improve your day.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1)The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was surprisingly good. It’s not often that you run across a YA novel that is both provocative introspective literature and fascinating speculative fiction. If you must have things happen in your books, then this might not be for you, but I loved the slow, pensive unfolding of Jenna’s awareness of herself. I listened to it on audiobook, and the tentative but deliberate tone of the reader really enhanced the mood of the book

I didn’t really relate to the slightly demented parents in this book–Pearson seems to think that this dementedness is part and parcel of parenthood. Still, it is definitely a worthwhile read, and raises some very interesting questions about ethics and identity. The only false note in the book is the epilogue, an obvious segue to the sequels, which are both run-of-the-mill YA adventure novels, with very little of the thoughtfulness that characterizes this first book.

The Fox Inheritance (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #2)The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book baffled me a little. The Adoration of Jenna Fox was profound and beautiful and thought-provoking. The Fox Inheritance is really none of those things. But it’s kind of a fun romp through a possible future, I guess. I would not have been surprised if it ended up to be some kind of fan fiction written by a different author. But it appears to be legit. Go figure.

Fox Forever (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #3)Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More of the same from Pearson. It appears that The Adoration of Jenna Fox may have been a serendipitous literary aberration in an otherwise fairly bland and predictable corpus. Both of these sequels appear to be written for people to whom the first book would not appeal–those who like their books long on action and short on all things cerebral. It seems like an odd strategy. But I don’t know. I like both action movies and artsy dramas, so maybe there’s more crossover than I think.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Boring, in a word. I found all the characters in this book infinitely unrelatable. And the shocking revelations eye-rollingly predictable. Too bad. For a much more interesting exploration of the psychological consequences of multi-generational space travel, try Ursula LeGuin’s novella, “Paradises Lost” from her short story collection, The Birthday of the World and Other Stories

Champion (Legend, #3)Champion by Marie Lu

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I quite enjoyed this series, in spite of myself. I guess it is my native Californian showing through here, but I just loved that so much of it takes place in California (despite the fact that large portions of this future California have unfortunately slipped into the ocean). I can totally picture my home state as the center of a post-apocalyptic rogue nation. It kind of gives me warm fuzzies, actually. Also, I know this is absolutely traitorous, but now is the place to confess that I have always preferred Anden to Day as a romantic prospect.

It is a universal truth of Goodreads reviews that the last book of a series always gets a far better star rating than the first, because its readers are self-selected for those who are predisposed to passionately adore it. I don’t think Champion is as good as Legend, but it’s quite a bit better than Prodigy, so if you made it through that, you may as well complete the series.

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1)All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been in love with this title since I saw the 1969 Star Trek episode of the same name (NOT in 1969. I’m not that old). So I had to read this book just for that, and the awesome cover art. It was a pretty good effort for a first novel. Time travel is always tricky, and Terrill did some interesting stuff with it. I was strangely touched by the almost big sisterly attitude the main character took toward her past self.

There were some plot holes, but plot holes are more or less par for the course when it comes to time travel. The thing that made me roll my eyes a little was the author trying to cover up some of those plot holes by having her mad scientist vaguely mention that time is a semi-sentient entity. Weird. Just weird. Maybe this will be further fleshed out in future books, which apparently are in the works. It’s hard for me to picture a sequel to this, since things seemed to be wrapped up pretty well, but I guess the main characters could conceivably simply continue to go back and relive their pasts over and over, just as they did in this novel.

Anyway, this is a fun read, and yet another important literary validation of the fact that time travel, whenever it is invented, will likely cause a crescendoing abundance of major disasters.

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