July 09, 2013

Mary E. Pearson: "The Rotten Beast"

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-affirming 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-affirming 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.


  1. I didn't know there was a free short story in this series. I may pick it up for completeness, even if it is disappointing.

    1. You might like it more than I did, who knows :). Anyway, since it's free on Tor.com...
      I like the way she writes and the world she created, but Ally's fate managed to annoy me.


Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.