Title:The Rotten Beast [on Amazon | on Goodreads] Series:Jenna Fox Chronicles (Note: This is a short story from Allys' POV - you can read it for free here, thought it is also downloadable for Kindle via Amazon. Chronologically book 1.5 in the series, though it only came out after book 2) Author:Mary E. Pearson [Site | Goodreads] Genres:Sci-Fi Year:2011 Age:12+ Stars:2/5 Pros:Provides a bridge between the 1st and 2nd book in the series (though you don't need to read this in order to better understand the sequel). Cons:The only dissident voice in TAOJF is domesticated - in an outrageously easy manner. Will appeal to:Those who need a life-adfirming statement at any cost.
Blurb:A sixteen-year-old girl named Allys, living in a near future version of the U.S., is vehemently opposed to the way scientists are meddling with human and artificial life. When she awakens one day to find that her parents have gone against her wishes and had an illegal operation performed to save her life and restore her body, she is furious and must come to terms with this new chance at life, which she didn’t ask for and didn’t think she wanted. (Amazon excerpt)
Review: You may ask - what's the point in reviewing a short story that also happens to be a free read? It's not like one has to decide if it's worth one's money or not. But since I'm reviewing the whole series, it just didn't seem right to leave this one out. First off, Pearson's writing is really good, and this is the main reason why I'm not going under the two-star mark. Let me explain the reason why, although I loved TAOJF (despite some reservations), I weren't able to love this too. You already know how I feel about Allys...if you read my review for The Adoration of Jenna Fox, that is ;). Her character provides a necessary contrast to the empathy we feel toward Jenna, and a different point of view than the absolutely-life-adfirming one. Despite this, in TAOJF Allys got what she was most fiercely opposed to - an engineered new life. Now she has to adjust to it, and of course she feels outraged and violated. Enters Jenna with an equally engineered new fruit - a chocolate peach - and Allys is able to surrender in the space of a few pages. Which makes me sad, really. In abstract, I endorse a writer's right to take her/his characters where she/he wants. So I shouldn't question Pearson's choice to turn Ally's world upside down. But I can't help thinking it's unfair, not to mention balance-upsetting for the main novel. And the thing that bugs me the most is how easily Allys is won and tamed - it only takes an appetizing new fruit, of the kind she would have despised in her former life. Of course, there's no coming back now. Allys has to adjust, to surrender - since Pearson chose this path for her. Still, I would have liked to see her fall for something more relevant than a chocolate peach.
For my review of "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" (first installment in the series) click here. For my review of "The Fox Inheritance" (second installment in the series) click here. For my review of "Fox Forever" (third installment in the series) click here. For more Sci-Fi books click here.