Book Review: “The Diary of Pelly D” by L.J. Adlington

Toni V is just another teen on the demolition crew, working his jackhammer. Day after day he tears up the ruins of City 5 to make way for the new city the general promises.

The rules and regulations say that everything that is found has to be reported. But when Toni V finds a water can with a diary inside, he defies the rules and regulations. He keeps and reads it: The Diary of Pelly D.

Pelly D lives in luxury in City 5. She’s rich, she’s pretty, and she leads the pack at school. Oh–and she has a holographic pool, which is pretty cool.

Pelly D is completely unconcerned about school work or about politics, or really about anything but her own pleasure and popularity–well, except for the little niggling doubts she has about the new gene stamping.

It’s an Atsumisi thing, this “Heritage Clan” thing. According to them, the world is divided into three groups: the haves and the have nots. The haves (Atsumisi and Mazzini) have the gene (even if it’s only turned “on” in the Atsumisi)–the have nots (the Galrezi) don’t.

It starts out innocently, people getting tattoos on their wrists to identify which gene clan they come from. But before long, Pelly D wonders if there might be discrimination on the planet (despite the colonials resolve to not even have a word for discrimination since they were so determined not to let any exist on their new planet.)

I’m not sure what to say about this book. The diary reads a little like Bridget Jones’ Diary (in other words, it’s awful). Reading Pelly D’s self-absorbed rants is painful. It’s a mercy that the author flashes back to Toni V every so often–he’s a breath of fresh air from the drama queen Pelly D.

At the same time, there’s something compelling about this novel. I can see how young adults might enjoy it. And–as far as young adult novels go, it’s relatively clean. There’s some allusions to making out and one not too descriptive sex scene. There’s a divorce that takes second stage to the real storyline. There’s some bullying, some definite rudeness. But it’s not like it’s celebrating deviant behavior.

And the ending. Oh, the ending.

I had to verbally process the entire plot with my little sister after I was done. It was that disturbing.

It was a good disturbing.

The kind that makes you think. The kind that makes you recall history, real events on Earth that resemble the events in the book. The kind that makes you question political correctness and what the world calls peace. The kind that makes you wonder how the evil in the heart of man can be eliminated.

The Diary of Pelly D is bad in that the diary itself is just the sort of thing you’d expect from a self-absorbed queen-of-the-brat-pack teen. The Diary of Pelly D is good in that the story sucks you in and gets you thinking (without you knowing that you’re thinking until you get to the awful, awful end.) It’s good in that the ideas it brings up stick with you, forcing you to grapple with reality.

I’m glad I read it. I’m not quite sure if I recommend it.

Rating:1 Star/5 Stars
Category:YA Dystopian Fiction
Synopsis:Toni V, a postapocalyptic teen, finds the diary of Pelly D–written before the war that ended the world as she knew it.
Recommendation: Decide for yourself. You can see how I had an awfully hard time even giving it stars–the one star is for the painfully insipid Pelly D’s diary writings, the five stars is for the completed effect of the novel.

Book Review: “The Adoration of Jenna Fox” by Mary E. Pearson

What does it mean to be human?

What makes me myself?

Is it the endless combinations of A T G and C that make up my DNA?

Is it the way my environment has shaped my genetic material such that I am expressed as a specific phenotype?

Or perhaps it is my memories that make me myself. Perhaps it is the collection of information and experience stored somewhere within my brain that makes me myself.

Then again, maybe it is some ethereal thing, something beyond my physical makeup, such that even if my physical being were to be completely annihilated, I would still be–and be complete.

Jenna Fox wakes up after a year-long coma to find that she’s not quite sure who she is.

She’s walking around in an unfamiliar body, remembering unfamiliar ideas.

She’s living in an unfamiliar world, watching videos of an unfamiliar her living an unfamiliar life.

She’s just starting to get comfortable in her own skin, just starting to remember herself, her life, her family…

when the truth smacks her in the face and she finds herself at square one again.

Who is she? What makes her herself? Is she herself? Or is she merely a product of her parent’ unceasing adoration?

The Adoration of Jenna Fox was my first ever dystopian novel–and oh what a first!

Set only a hundred or so years from now, The Adoration of Jenna Fox sees the world continuing on its current trend of helicopter parenting and biomedical advances–with disastrous results.

Adoration is a meaty novel, full of thought-provoking ideas about personhood (as mentioned above) as well as about ethics in medicine, genetic engineering, and beyond.

Nevertheless, this is by no means a novel intended as a text book. The Adoration of Jenna Fox is an engaging story in and of itself–and one that begs to be read, even if one would rather not think about the issues it raises.

Yet force you to think about the issues it does. This is no propaganda piece, intended to convince the reader to one side of a spectrum or another. Instead, it is does exactly what a good book ought–it forces the reader to think through sides of an issue he might not have thought about before, challenging his ideas regardless of which “side” he might have originally found himself on.

(For the record, I’m a conservative, evangelical Christian who believes that humans are created in the image of God and have intrinsic worth as such. I’m also the sister of a student of biomechanical engineering who is doing his graduate research with adult stem cells and who is always sharing fun stuff about manufactured skin and transplanted blood clots. And I found plenty to make me think in this book–things I agreed with and things I didn’t.)

This is a novel I highly recommend.

Rating: 5 stars
Category:Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Synopsis:Jenna Fox seeks to discover who she is after a year-long coma leaves her in the dark–and discovers that who she is is scary.
Recommendation: Absolutely read this one! (Parents might want to read through it first before passing it on to their children–I’m not sure exactly what age group this’d be appropriate for, but I’m thinking probably older rather than younger. Like seventeen, eighteen year old kind of older. At least, that’s what I’m guessing. Not that the content is necessarily inappropriate–there’s a bit of girl/boy stuff but much less and less explicit than the usual YA fare; and a bit of violence I think–but I think the concepts and ethical questions would be much for a younger teen to think through.)

I originally added this book to my TBR list based on reviews from Diary of an Eccentric and Jennifer of 5M4B