This book was pretty much nothing like I expected. In a good way. I was expecting this to be an action-y dystopian where after Jenna discovers the truth about her accident, she teams up with some friends, takes on the establishment, and ends up saving the world. I don’t know why I was expecting that, but I was. Seriously, through the entire book I kept waiting for the story to take that turn, and it never did.
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.
Instead, what I ended up getting was a much more reflective book. Not reflective in a slow way, because Jenna keeps discovering new secrets right and left and that keeps the story going at a pretty fast clip. But reflective in that it’s a book that brings up issues that make you think. Like about what it means to be a human and what determines identity and worth. It also makes you think about medical advances and if it’s possible to go too far to save someone. And those are just the bigger questions—there are so many smaller ones it brings up as well.
So the majority of the book is Jenna trying to figure out her own answers to those questions. And trying to navigate the new relationship dynamics in her life—with her parents, with her grandmother, and with her newfound friends. I was really impressed with the way the author explored Jenna’s complicated relationship with her family. It was deftly done, and her family was really well-layered. Especially her parents. It would have been so easy to portray them as the bad guys, but instead Mary Pearson shows you not only their mistakes and struggles, but their intense, unwavering love for Jenna as well.
Overall, the book was really well done. It’s not big on action and adventure—in fact, like 90 percent of the book takes place at Jenna’s house. But despite that, it’s not a slow or boring book at all. There’s too much going on psychologically for that. So if you want a book that will give you things to mull over even after you’ve finished reading it, give this one a try.
Rating: 3.5 / 5