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There is something curious about where we live. Something curious about Lily. Something curious about Father and his nightly phone calls with Mother. And certainly something curious about me. Why can I remember the details of the French Revolution but I can't remember if I ever had a best friend?
Jenna Fox has just woken up from a coma, and she can't remember anything about herself or her life. She only knows her name is Jenna Fox because her parents tell her this. Her parents give her a collection of home movies for her to watch in the hope that it will help her to regain her memories.
And eventually they do, in bits and pieces. Jenna, however, still doesn't feel like she's the same Jenna Fox she sees in the home movies. Additionally, she keeps on noticing strange things about her and her family. Like how her grandmother doesn't seem to want to even look at her, or how no friends have sent her get-well cards, or how her fingers don't interlace quite right. She suspects that there's something her parents are hiding from her, but what is it? And how will Jenna cope when she finally uncovers it?
WARNING: The trope list below contains MAJOR spoilers. Even reading the name of certain tropes is highly spoilerrific. If at all possible, read the book at least halfway through before proceeding. (It's worth it, trust me.)
This work contains the following tropes:
- Artificial Human: Jenna. Most of her, at least. Allys is shown as having become one too by the epilogue, and it's stated that there are also many more like them after they campaigned for awareness of beings like them.
- Artificial Limbs: Allys has four of them, due to losing her arms and legs to a bacterial infection. She becomes a full-fledged (or 78%-fledged) Artificial Human later on.
- Brain Uploading: Jenna finds copies of her two friends' brains and her own brain in the closet.
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The book cover shows a blue-black butterfly landing on Jenna's hand, and Jenna's father calls the 10% of her brain they managed to save a "butterfly" that enables the remaining (and artificial) 90% of her brain to function.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The one time Jenna rebels against her role as the Perfect Miracle Child and sneaks out to attend a wild party with her friends, it ends with her friends being killed and Jenna just barely surviving.
- Deadpan Snarker: Allys. Jenna shows flashes of this too.
- The Dutiful Daughter: Jenna did her best to be the "miracle child" for her parents. Until she couldn't take it anymore, and rebelled. With disastrous results.
- Emotionless Girl: Jenna, initially.
- Glamour Failure: Dane tells Jenna that she "walks funny", which makes Jenna realize that she moves differently from the graceful Jenna she sees in the recordings. Then later on, she injures herself and notices that there's something underneath her skin that isn't blood...
- Laser-Guided Amnesia
- Mayfly-December Romance: Jenna and Ethan, who have about 70 happy years together before Ethan passes away. Jenna doesn't seem bitter about it in the epilogue, though.
- Mood Whiplash: Jenna is ecstatic when she suddenly remembers three weeks of her life and how much she loved hot chocolate, and she rushes to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate to drink. But when she begins drinking it, her mother yells out a horrified "NO!" She finds out that she can't taste the hot chocolate.
- Tropes related to The Reveal that merit serious spoilering-out:
- Cloning Blues: Jenna is almost entirely constructed of a substance called BioGel. Her exterior parts—like skin and hair—have been cloned from the original girl's cells. Even her brain is 90% artificial; it contains 10% of the brain of the original Jenna - the only portion of the original that could be saved.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Jenna wonders if this is true. It's implied that it's not, especially with Dane who is 100% human but is repeatedly stated to be "empty" or "missing something" inside.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Jenna even says "I'm not a tomato." It Makes Sense in Context.
- What Have I Become?
- Scale of Scientific Sins: Specifically Number 3 with tingles of 4; it's even stated to be outright illegal in the book's world. The book, however, brings into question just how much of a sin it is when it's done out of a parent's love for their child, and most readers will be inclined to agree that at the very least, it was understandable why they did what they did.
- The Sociopath: This might be what Dane is. Maybe. It's never specified.
- Title Drop: Jenna describes the way all attention seems to revolve around the Jenna in the home movies as "the adoration of Jenna Fox."
- Trigger Phrase: Whenever Claire tells Jenna to go to her room, she does. Jenna also reacts badly to any mention of her accident. She manages to overcome this conditioning with some effort later on.
- Troubled but Cute: Ethan.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: No explicit year or date is given, but events like the election of the second female US president, the near-uselessness of vaccines thanks to bacterial infections becoming super-resistant and lethal to them, and natural disasters that sunk part of California are mentioned.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Jenna thinks this at first when she learns that she can live up to 200 years as long as she remains in a temperate climate, but is shown to have changed her attitude to Living Forever Is Awesome in the "Two Hundred and Sixty Years Later" epilogue - although she does say that she's basically going to commit suicide when her child Kayla reaches a certain age so she won't outlive her daughter.