The Fox Inheritance: The Jenna Fox Chronicles, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Fox Inheritance: The Jenna Fox Chronicles, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Re-animated teens out for revenge in taut thriller sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Brings up a lot of ethical questions that can be tied to current discussions about human cloning. Also, a society 260 years in the future is represented, prompting comparison between The Fox Inheritance and other future-set novels.

Positive Messages

The struggle to find an identity and a sense of purpose is an intense one for two teens left behind by the world. There's also plenty to ponder about what makes us human. Revenge and forgiveness are also big themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Locke seems too easily manipulated by the two strong female forces in his life and stays that way until the very end, when he's forced to strike out on his own -- not because he really wants to. Still, he's driven by loyalty, love, and what's right and fair; guilt, too, but they all are. Kara is the biggest manipulater and lets herself be consumed by thoughts of revenge. Jenna seems to fare the best, making a life for herself and helping many others in the process.

Violence

Plenty of flashbacks to both the car accident that killed the three teens (the final flashback includes some gory details) and the sheer desperation of having their minds locked in boxes -- two of them for 260 years before they were given bodies. Locke and Kara are beaten up -- Locke with broken ribs -- and live in fear on the run. Three key characters die by the end, one is kidnapped, another hit on the head and nearly choked to death, and another is left comatose for weeks. Talk of the loss of all family connection over 260 years including how parents and other loved ones died and visits to cemetaries. Two mentions of Locke's uncle, who was shot in the head and therefore needed a closed casket at his funeral.

Sex

Some embraces and one kissing session with biting. Locke complains of being the "oldest virgin" and mentions having "tested out the equipment" after he's given a new body.

Language

"Hell," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "d--khead."

Consumerism

A mention of a BMW.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The doctor has a liquor cabinet.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fox Inheritance is the second book in the Jenna Fox Chronicles trilogy after The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Despite its taking place 260 years after the first book, the same intriguing ethical discussions are on the table: What makes us human? Should humans be recreated when only their minds remain? Two teens are on the run from the scientist who re-animated them, and in the process they're beaten and suffer a number of flashbacks about their experience in suspended animation and the car accident that killed off their bodies. They also mourn their old lives and harbor intense feelings of revenge for what was done to them. Sprinkled throughout the story: some mild swearing and a couple of mildly intimate scenes of kissing -- one with biting.

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What's the story?

Dr. Gatsbro is proud of his two creations: teens Kara and Locke, their minds left in boxes for 260 years intil his brilliant self came along. With only very trace amounts of their DNA and lots of BioPerfect blue goo, his brand new \"floor models\" are re-animated and educated at his rural estate away from the ultra modern world. When Dr. Gatsbro has his first potential customer, Kara and Locke are on full display, reciting lines fed to them. Behind the rehearsed smiles Kara is seething. She didn't ask for this and wants to run away. Locke agrees to go with her, but reluctantly. When they're immediately tracked and beaten up Locke realizes how naive he's been about Gatsbro. He and Kara get separated in the chase but have one destination: to find Jenna Fox in California. She died in the same car accident with Kara and Locke but was brought back to life by her scientist father shortly afterward: no centuries locked in a box, slowly going insane. Kara blames Jena for her years of suffering, and Locke's worried about what she'll do to Jenna if she gets there first. Kara can't get to Jenna first.

Is it any good?

THE FOX INHERITANCE will grab readers just the way The Adoration of Jenna Fox did. The author beautifully blends the complexities of teen love, friendship, and tragedy with even more complex ethical questions: When are we not human anymore? What sacrifices will humans make for semi-immortality? Is that what medical science is ultimately for? Plus, thanks to Kara's erratic behavior, there's a palpable suspense that drives the book. It keeps readers guessing what she's really capable of.

This sequel has a couple small weaknesses. One is the narrator, Locke. He may be loyal and torn between his love of his two friends, but he's not nearly as interesting as Kara and Jenna. And then there's the futuristic setting -- also not nearly as interesting as it could be. Descriptions are short and lack that expected sense of wonder and awe. It's 260 years in the future. If you can make people filled with blue goo, then the cities ought to provoke just as much amazement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethics of it all: reanimating humans, storing files of human minds, keeping people as "floor models" to sell a product. Do you think Jenna finds her new life worth it? What about Locke?

  • How have the three friends changed since the accident? Who are they now? Do you think any of them will remain friends? What is it about their friendship that has endured?

  • Why is the bot Dot so excited to be an "escapee"? What does she see about the world that Locke doesn't at first?

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