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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two Very Good YA Novels

Crossing  by Andrew Xia Fukuda 

 I'm really unsure of what to say about this YA novel.  I was mesmerized throughout, then when it was over, stunned.

Fukuda examines the immigrant experience through the voice of Xing, a high school student who wants to be called Chris.  He feels alienated from his peers, retains some guilt about his father's death, and feels a subdued anger toward his mostly absent mother, who must work more than one job to support them.  His best friend is Naomi Lee, another Chinese immigrant, but one who has managed to "belong" in spite of her Chinese appearance.    

When students at Xing's high school begin to disappear, the suspense mounts.

Original.  Ambiguous.  Intriguing.  

Read in March.


YA/Suspense.  2010.  Print version:  255 pages.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox  by Mary E. Pearson

Who is Jenna Fox?  Well, that is exactly what Jenna Fox wants to know.  When Jenna Fox awakens from a coma, a year after an accident, she has no memory of her former life.  Her adoring parents, however, had plenty of home movies, and Jenna watches them, trying to recover the missing years of her life.  She recognizes herself, and occasionally remembers a few details, but still feels emotionally removed from the girl in the home movies.

As some memories are recovered, they seem to create more questions.  Her parents are not entirely forthcoming with answers, however, especially about the accident that put Jenna in the coma in the first place.  

What I liked:  I liked Jenna's efforts to recover her memories, and her self-questioning about who Jenna Fox really is.  How important are memories?  Is she the same person she was before the accident...or without her memories of her previous life, is she a blank slate to be created through what she experiences in the present.  I like the way Pearson builds the story and the way Jenna resorts to a dictionary to recover the meanings of words.  I like some of the bigger questions about what is necessary to be human, and in the case of one character, what is lacking.  I liked Lila, the initially stand-offish grandmother.

I liked a lot about this YA novel.  The only thing that truly bothered me on finishing the book has to do with a feeling of incompleteness about the conclusion.  There have been follow-up books that I hope (eventually) to pursue, but the conclusion to this book seemed a bit abrupt.

Read in March.

YA/Science Fiction.  reprint 2010.  Print version 288 pages.

Both of these books are thought-provoking and raise as many questions as they answer.


  1. I've heard good things about The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I like that it touches on how important memory is to who we are. This sounds like a book that offers a lot of food for that. I will have to give it a try.

    Crossing sounds intriguing too! I think it's the fact you said the ending left you stunned that has me most curious. :-)

  2. I liked them both, but have to admit that Crossing is the one that just won't leave me alone.

  3. Oo, I had Crossing on a TBR list ages ago, but that list is now defunct, and I don't think Crossing made the transfer. Readding it now!

    If this sways you, my mother read the sequel to Jenna Fox and was mightily unimpressed. She said she wished she'd stuck with the slight unresolvedness of the first one.

  4. Jenny - I'm eager to hear what you think about Crossing! I read Jenna Fox after reading Pearson's fantasy novel The Kiss of Deception recently for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge. I liked the ideas in Jenna Fox, but TKoD had, I think, better characterization and plot. TKoD skillfully kept the reader in the dark about certain plot elements.

  5. I read The Adoration of Jenna Fox ages ago and can't even remember what I thought of the ending... Crossing sounds worth checking out!

  6. I read The Adoration of Jenna Fox a while back and can't remember much of it but I do know I liked it. You'll have to let us know if you read a sequel.

    The Crossing sounds great. I haven't been reading much YA but I'd love to find a good story.

  7. I don't know if I'll ever get to the Jenna Fox sequels. I'm keeping in mind what Jenny@Reading the End said about her mother's disappointment in the sequel.

    The Crossing is worth a read if you have a chance!

  8. Another note--

    The Adoration of Jenna Fox seems to be easily forgotten, given your comments.

    Bet you wouldn't forget The Crossing as quickly.