The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson

A few years ago I read and loved Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I was overjoyed when I recently discovered that she had written a companion novel. I was fortunate to pick up a signed ARC of The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles) at BEA and I read through it during the 48-Hour Book Challenge. I was not disappointed.

Sequels don’t always hold up well, especially when the first book is really good. But The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles) works for a few reasons. The characters are new and not the same main characters as the first book. They are well-developed and I found myself rooting for them even more than I rooted for Jenna in the first book. Another thing that works well is that the setting is 250 years after the events in the first book. The world-building is superb and detailed.  For these reasons,  The Fox Inheritance works well as a stand-alone novel, too.

Thanks to advances in science and medicine, the disembodied minds of Kara and Locke (friends of Jenna who were also in the same car accident) have bene give new bodies.  But the world has changed drastically since their “death” and the man who has brought them to life has plans to use them as models for his new business venture.  Meanwhile, Locke and Kara are struggling.  Are they really human? And why did Jenna get to live her life while they were stuck floating in cyberspace?  When they find out that Jenna is still alive, Kara and Locke set off to find her and enter a world that has been divided by Civil War and is populated by droids and humans.

Highly recommended.  The Fox Inheritance is perfect for science fiction fans and mystery fans.  It is thought-provoking and I imagine that students will want to talk about the issues of humanity and human rights brought up by the plot.  Our world is rapidly changing and the rights of droids, the ability to “save” memories, and much more may be a possibility sooner rather than later.  Perfect for upper middle grade and high school readers.

#BEA11 Recap

This past week I made my annual pilgrimage to BEA, BookExpo America, at the Javitz Center.  I am lucky in that I live a short train ride from NYC, so each year I manage to take a personal day and spend a few hours at the conference.  It’s a crazy conference- huge, crowded, huge, and oh yeah, crowded!

I requested this ARC from Candlewick- perfect my senior class disaster unit!

Wednesday morning I made my way to the train station and was in the city by 9:30am.  I had made a plan with Teresa (@trkravtin) to meet at the Candlewick booth at 10am.  Teresa and I have been talking on Twitter for a while now and it was great to finally have a chance to meet.  I quickly walked the few blocks to the Javitz Center and picked up my badge without a problem.  It was 10am on the dot when I made my way onto the exhibit floor.  (Nice timing, huh?) Candlewick was easy to find so I began the day browsing their ARCs.  Sadly, I missed the galley giveaway for Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd but I did pick up a few other ARCs.  And at that point, Teresa was there!

Teresa and I chatted for a little bit and she is just as wonderful in person as she is on Twitter. :)  But time is valuable at BEA, and we parted ways so I could start walking the floor.  I had planned to go to Ally Condie’s signing but when I saw that the line was wrapped around half the Javitz Center, I decided to skip it and just wander around.  I knew I had about 20 minutes until Mary Pearson’s signing and I really wanted to meet her, so I did a quick lap around the center.  I picked up an ARC or two, including Daughter of Smoke and Bone, signed by the wonderful and pink-haired Laini Taylor.  What a sweetheart!

After my inital lay-of-the-land walk, I made my way back to the Henry Hold booth and got on the line for Mary Pearson, who would be signing The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles).  I am a huge fan of Pearson’s writing and I had tweeted her that I would be stopping by her line.  Of course, I forgot to mention that I am unbearably shy in situations like that so I would not dare mention my name when I got to the front of the line.  When it was my turn, I passed my book to her and mumbled how much I love her work.  Thank goodness for name tags, because the awesome Mary Pearson read mine and recognized me right away!  She is a sweetheart and I can’t wait to read The Fox Inheritance.  We chatted briefly and promised to keep in touch.  Her line was long and I didn’t want to take up too much of her time, so it was time to go walk the floor some more.  As I left the booth, I also picked up a few adult ARCs for my students.

Walking away, I overheard someone say that Jimmy Fallon was signing copies of his new book a few rows away.  I didn’t need a copy of the book (and it turns out they had already run out of copies anyway), but I did walk by and take a quick picture of him. After that, it was time to head to Scholastic to scope out the scene.  I really lucked out and was able to pick up an ARC of Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers. Yes, my seniors requested this one. :) They were in 3rd grade when the first book came out and were laughing when I mentioned that the second book would be published this summer. Needless to say, when I got back to school they swiped it from me and quickly read it).

I spent the next hour or so walking around, talking to publicists and picking up some ARCs.  While standing at the Abram’s booth, I ran into Pam of MotherReader fame! She was wonderful and gracious and we ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon together.  It was great getting to know her outside the blog (I highly recommend meeting bloggers!  It’s really great!) and we chatted about books, teens, writing, and the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  She let me know that Lisa Yee would be signing at the American Girl booth and I was happy to wait in line to meet her and of course, Peep!  (Peep is famous.  Really.  Just ask him. :) )

MotherReader and Lisa Yee

Me, Lisa Yee, and Peep!

Together we waited on a few signing lines and even made our way over to the autograph tables, which are complete chaos.  I completely lucked out when Scott Westerfeld’s ticketed line slowed down and the girl corralling the line let me jump on the back, without a ticket.  It was my biggest coup of the day and I knew I had students who would be falling over themselves to read Goliath.  Scott Westerfeld was really nice and autographed the copy directly to my class.

Sadly, it was time for me to leave MotherReader at that point and begin to make my way back to Penn Station.  I did one more quick loop around the convention center and really lucked out.  Standing at the Random House booth, completely alone, was Christopher Paolini!  One of my seniors had begged me for an ARC of Inheritance, but they were not available.  However, Paolini was kind enough to sign a poster for him and we had a short conversation.  It was interrupted when I heard someone practically hyperventilating behind me.  There was a tween boy there who was gasping and kept repeating “You’re here.  Oh my god, you’re here.  I had no idea you would be here.  Was it in the program?!  Oh my god, you are my hero!”  I stepped aside as this young boy met his hero.  Paolini was deep in conversation with the boy only moments later and I had to smile.  Sure, I had seen some people at BEA act crazy, but that one moment is what BEA is truly about for me- meeting authors that I love and networking with all of these people I have only met online.

I had a wonderful time at BEA this year.  I’m not sure I could handle attending the entire conference, but one day is perfect.  I get to meet people I admire, I network with my publishing contacts, and I bring home ARCs for my students.

My BEA ARCs

On Thursday, I took all the ARCs to school (with the exception of a few I claimed first) and laid them out on the back table.  My classes all walked through and made a list of the books they want to read, and I pulled names out of a hat at lunch.  Most of the books have a waiting list, so students had to promise to review them on goodreads in return for getting the opportunity to read them.  My first student has already reviewed her ARC!  I expect more reviews to be posted this weekend.  This is why I love BEA- ARCs build passion.  Students are making lists, sharing books, and talking about them because they have the privilege to read them before anyone else.  It’s fantastic!

The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson

I love Mary Pearson. Every time I read one of her books I am transported to a new world and closing the book doesn’t always bring me back to reality. Pearson manages to snatch you away from your world and plop you down amidst the strangest of circumstances, yet they are always believable.

The Miles Between is a hard book to describe without giving too much away. Des (Destiny) Faraday rarely stays in one place very long- she moves around from boarding school to boarding school. As such, she has learned that it is best not to get attached to people in her life because they will only leave you in the end, just like her parents. But something is different on October 19th….something is in the air. When Des finds a car at her disposal she throws caution to the wind and ends up inviting three of her classmates on a road trip. In search of “one fair day”, the unlikely friends set out towards Langdon, a two hour drive. Along the way they learn a lot more about themselves and each other.

Des is an interesting character. I have to be honest here and say she actually drove me crazy for most of the book. I didn’t find her very likable and was mostly annoyed by her. Yet I couldn’t put the book down. There was something about her that drew me to her and her story. And Pearson has done a phenomenal job here, leading you down one path and then WHAM! The ending slams into you out of nowhere. It brought tears to my eyes, no lie.

This is a great read. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to my 6th graders, though it’s definitely on a higher level than most middle grade books. I don’t think they would have a problem understanding the store and even connecting with Des and her friends, but I would handsell it to my higher readers. The adventures the foursome go on are funny, touching, and even sad at times. However, I found myself laughing more than crying. When the I finished the book I kept thinking about it even hours later. I’m thrilled to add The Miles Between to my classroom library this fall.

The ARC of The Miles Between has been on quite a road trip this summer. I was thrilled to get a chance to participate in this awesome blog tour (thanks Kristine!). The book traveled around my town for a few days in my purse and I never remembered to take it out for a picture. Oops! I was too enthralled in the story, I tell ya! However, before mailing it off to the editor in New York I snapped a picture of the ARC visiting my monarch butterfly caterpillars. I was changing their milkweed and realized that the monarchs are such a huge part of my life and classroom during this time of the year that it only made sense to take a picture of my backyard, milkweed, and caterpillars! (Plus, my town doesn’t have the biggest, weirdest, smallest, etc anything).

CIMG4651You can see one 3rd instar caterpillar on the second leaf from the bottom!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson was my #1 “must get ARC” at ALA Midwinter ’08.

Wow. Just wow. I read this in one sitting, unable to put it down. I’m not even sure how to review it, because I don’t want to give anything away. Jenna Fox has been in an accident. She spent the last year in a coma and doesn’t remember anything from her old life. She has to relearn how to walk, how to talk, and how to do something as simple as smile. She doesn’t even know who she is. However, she does remember historical facts and can recite Walden from memory. While in a coma, she was moved from Boston to California. Her family’s new home is sterile and void of any of Jenna’s old belongings. There is nothing to trigger her memories. She has no friends and no family other than her mother, father, and a grandmother who seems to despise her. Something isn’t right and she can’t even begin to figure out what that something is.As she struggles to rediscover who she is, her parents refuse to answer any of her questions. Their cover story begins to unravel and nothing is as it seems. At the risk of spoiling what is an amazing story, I’ll stop there. But you must pick up a copy of this book. If you haven’t preordered this yet…..well, get on that!

An amazing science-fiction story, I would classify Pearson’s novel as dystopian. It’s a frightening look at where our society is headed and what might happen in our future. It raises questions of medical ethics, bioethics, humanity, and how far we are willing to go to save someone we love. The plot doesn’t seem outlandish or out of the realm of possibility. In fact, it seems frighteningly possible.

Despite being a science-fiction novel (a genre better known for being full of clunky science/technology jargon), Pearson writes captivating, lyrical prose. Scattered throughout the book are poems, written from Jenna’s point of view and seemingly in her own mind. Each one is beautiful and could stand on it’s own, outside the book.

Each of the characters are captured perfectly. Jenna struggles with her own identity while trying to figure out who her parents really are and what her relationship was and will be with them.

This was a perfect book for me to read right now. It fits in perfectly with my unit on ” The Giver” and I can’t wait to pass this on to a few of my students. The questions it brings up will be wonderful for letter-essay reader’s response and for comparison to Lowry’s novel. Pearson has really outdone herself and this should be a runaway success.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox will be released April 29, 2008. Pre-order your copy now!

*A note on the cover- how gorgeous is it?? One of my favorites for 2008 so far!

** Also, I was thrilled that Mary Pearson incorporated an eco-artist into the story. Eco-art is something my class will be working on later this year and it is rarely mentioned in popular literature! Kudos to Mary Pearson for that!

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