Review: The Fox Inheritance
Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a brave exploration of bioethics. In an age of rapid technology development, Pearson’s follow-up novel, The Fox Inheritance, similarly forces readers to stop and wonder how far is too far when science is used to save or replace people. The details of Jenna need not be fresh in your mind when picking up this newest title, as the backstory is layered in throughout the book, but I do think that it would be difficult to have any emotional investment in the characters without having read the first novel in the Jenna Fox Chronicles.
The Fox Inheritance picks up about 260 years after Jenna leaves off. Jenna had tried to destroy the boxes containing her friends’ minds, but it turns out that somebody else had made copies first. For 260 years, Kara and Locke were stuck as backup files, held in what felt like eternal torture. However, when a sort of mad scientist improves on Jenna Fox’s father’s BioGel and creates BioPerfect, he is able to resurrect Kara and Locke, outfitting their minds with new (and slightly improved) bodies that share the DNA saved from their old selves.
It turns out that the doctor who rescues Kara and Locke may not have their best interests in mind. He wants to use them as floor models for his technology–living demonstrations of how science can be used to recreate people even hundreds of years after their brains and DNA have been archived. In order to free themselves from living as very valuable property, Kara and Locke are forced to escape and go on the run. Unfortunately, almost everyone they knew is long dead, and the places they once knew have been destroyed. Kara and Locke have only one option: find Jenna.
When I picked this book up I was a bit skeptical; I wasn’t sure that Jenna needed a sequel. There’s a lot to be said for letting a book stand on its own. I’m not sure this book entirely changed my mind–it certainly wasn’t necessary to get any sort of closure–but that did not stop me from reading it and thoroughly enjoying it. The Fox Inheritance, narrated by Locke, takes up issues similar to those featured in Jenna while striking a different tone.
Jenna is a quieter book, while Inheritance is a fast paced action/adventure story. That is not to say that this page-turner is lacking in philosophical moments, but they are interspersed amongst lots of running, fighting, and serious ass kicking. Those moments do add a lot to the story, though, and I appreciated Pearson’s ability to portray characters who are the least human behaving with the most humanity, while those who are completely human often act inhumanely. I was particularly attached to Dot Jefferson, a Bot who has hopes and dreams and wants nothing more than to be remembered. Similarly, I was fascinated by the ways in which Locke and Kara reacted differently to their experiences, one with plans to begin life anew and the other with anger and vengeance against those who made them suffer.
Inheritance leaves the door open for more in the Jenna Fox Chronicles. If that is the case, I’ll pick up the next book with a lot less skepticism and a lot more trust in Pearson’s storytelling abilities.