The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

I loved Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox. In fact, it’s what got me through a reading slump back in 2009 and sucked me even deeper into the world of YA. So naturally, when I discovered there was a sequel, I was all over it. If you haven’t read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and you’d like to at some point, I recommend not reading my review – there are spoilers.

The Fox Inheritance is actually not about Jenna Fox, primarily. Instead, it tells the story of the two friends that were in the car accident with Jenna – Locke and Kara. Even though Jenna destroyed the machines that housed Locke’s and Kara’s minds, she didn’t realize there were copies. Now it’s 260 years later, and those copies have been brought out of their suspended existence and given brand-new, BioPerfect bodies.

Locke and Kara are brought back to life by Doctor Gatsbro, who keeps them at his estate and provides for all of their needs. Locke and Kara’s very existence is illegal, since none of their original bodies survived the crash, meaning they don’t meet the “Jenna standard” of ten percent. That doesn’t stop Doctor Gatsbro from inviting investors over to take a look at the two friends – investors who hope to one day have their own brains uploaded and stored while a new body is created to replace the old, worn-out one.

Once Locke and Kara realize they are merely shelf models for Gatsbro’s illegal money-making venture (and that he will never let them go and make lives of their own), they decide to make a run for it. That’s where the story really begins. Locke and Kara must learn to navigate this new world that they know nothing about and deal with the emotional turmoil that accompanies their existence. Naturally, they decide to find Jenna.

The story is told entirely from Locke’s point of view in a taut, fast-paced first person present tense. I complain constantly about how sick I am of first person present tense, but Pearson used it well in Adoration and she does so again here. The pace is fast and the surprises are many, just how I like my dystopias.

In Adoration, Pearson created a future world more advanced than our own, but not entirely different. In The Fox Inheritance, she’s hurtled us much further into the future and let her imagination run with it. In future America, there are two Americas split not on physical lines, but ideological lines, and those who don’t commit to one or the other are outcast. (Texas is also its own country, and while I find it amusing that so many science fiction and fantasy writers decide to do this, I also don’t want to give people here any more ammunition, so can we please place a moratorium on this for awhile?)

There are also robots (“bots”) all over the place that are used to help humans with a variety of everyday operations – driving cabs, shining shoes, serving food, and so on. The bots are so advanced that they seem human, but they’re tightly regulated. Dot, the bot who drives the cab Locke and Kara escape with, isn’t even built with a lower body since it’s not deemed necessary for her function. Naturally, many of these bots seem human in many respects and yearn to be free.

There are also a ton of other little details that make the world seem truly futuristic, like the freeways that automatically direct the cars and the communicator built into each person’s palm. I loved all of these details, even if I felt that not all of them worked completely (the strange split in the country is particularly weak).

There’s a lot more that Pearson does well here. She gives the reader a good sense of the horror Locke and Kara must have felt trapped in limbo for 260 years. Jenna 260 years later is realistically adult and wise, though her body looks as young as ever. And Locke’s and Kara’s anger and confusion and grief over their situation are heart-wrenching.

Sometimes Pearson’s plotting is predictable, but it’s always exciting and well-written. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to fans of the first book and dystopias in general. It’s a fast, fun read that also makes you think a little – what more can you ask for?

Review copy received from the publisher. The Fox Inheritance is on shelves now.

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  1. says

    Great review. This makes me want to read Adoration again first, before I read this one, since I read it a long time ago. But this one is definitely on my list.

  2. says

    I enjoyed this one. Admitedly, it was a tiny bit slow to get into at the beginning but once it got going I really liked it. I agree that the way Pearson wrote Locke and Kara's captivity over time was pretty haunting. I just can't even imagine! A worthy continuation of the first though not quite the same level of love for me.

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