Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

Fox Forever picks up the story of Locke Jenkins who is on his way to Manchester where Gatsboro's labs are located to make sure that there are no other copies of him in the labs. However, he is waylaid by Mr. F, who works for the Resistance and told he needs to come with him to complete the favour that Father Andre mentioned they might request in The Fox Inheritance. Father Andre had told Locke that in return for being freed, the Network might want him to return the favour.

Locke is traveling with a fake ID as Nate Smith courtesy of the Network. He and Mr. "F" travel to Boston where they meet two others, Carver and Livvy. Mr F's name is Xavier. The favour they are asking is no ordinary one; to help a special Non-pact.

Carver, Livvy, and Xavier have learned that the Secretary of Security is holding someone in a special detainment area at an undisclosed location in Boston for the past sixteen years. That someone is believed to be Karden Sanders the leader of the Resistance and Meisha Derring's husband. Karden Sanders was the a leader in the underground Non-pact Resistance sixteen years ago. His group fought for those on the fringes of society and those who had no rights - the Non-pacts. Meisha Derring married him even though it was illegal to marry a Non-pact. They had a daughter named Rebecca. They moved and changed names frequently until one day the authorities caught up with them. While Meisha was out, their house was firebombed, and Karden and Rebecca were killed. Meisha spent 11 years in prison when she was finally released.

Although Meisha believed her husband and daughter were killed when their home was firebombed years ago, it now appears that Karden, at least, may be alive. Karden is thought to have stolen a huge sum of money - $80 billion from government contractors who provided the security systems against Non-pacts. That money was hidden in a secret account, the location of which Karden only partially disclosed. Carver and his team want to save Karden and gain access to the money before the grace period for dormant bank accounts expires. If it does, the money will be lost and Karden will be killed by the government which no longer needs him.

Locke owes Meisha, because in addition to her being Locke's only very distant living relative that he knows, she helped him escape from Gatsboro. But getting involved may mean ending up back in prison. Can Locke take such a risk? Locke has been chosen partly becuase of his physical attributes. Locke's body is eighty percent bioengineered human, twenty percent composites which is illegal. He has the ability to read lips and can also read faces meaning he can determine the emotions a person is feeling. Locke's BioPerfect heals his body quickly and he can see in the dark, although his 260 years spent in a cube have made him afraid of the dark.

The plan is to embed Locke in a group, a Virtual Collective - a sort of high school group, which contains the Security Secretary's daughter, Raine. Locke is to use Raine to help him locate Karden. At first, Raine is cold and wary of Locke. But Locke's first meeting with the Secretary at a party scores him an invite to the select group. During this party Locke meets, Han, Raine's gold Bot and bodyguard, as well as LeGru, the slimy assistant to the Security Secretary.

One night Locke unexpectedly discovers that Raine frequents the roof of the building she lives in and often leaves her apartment during the night to explore the city. Initially, he uses this to get to know Raine better and as part of his mission to find the missing bank account numbers and the location of Karden. However, their relationship soon develops into much more. Locke makes an astonishing discovery of who Raine is (although reader's probably won't be surprised) and uncovers the events of that fateful night sixteen years ago. With time running out, Locke must deal with betrayal, injury, and conflict to save both Karden and the future of the resistance.

Fox Forever is a fitting conclusion to the Fox Series. Well written, this novel focuses on a new plot that ties together the lose ends of Jenna and Locke. Pearson doesn't really go into much detail about the science behind Locke, nor much about the future world that he lives in. Although the United States is now two countries, we don't really know much about the resistance, except that with the capture of Karden, came its collapse. Likewise when Locke's mission is successful, Pearson doesn't really delve into the consequences of the resistance coming into a huge amount of money. Instead, that is briefly mentioned in a chapter titled Thirty Years Later.

The novel's focus is more on Locke's relationship with Raine as well as his relationship with Jenna Fox. It turns out that both Raine and Locke are quite similar - both have a mysterious past and both are not who they appear to be. As such, this novel deals with the quintessential questions of identity; who am I? and how do I belong? The same questions face Locke with his changing relationship with Jenna. Although initially Locke believed he loved Jenna, he begins to understand that they have both changed, just as Jenna tried to explain to him in The Fox Inheritance. Jenna has lived a life the past 260 years, working for the resistance, marrying and having a child, while Locke has been held captive in a cube. These experiences have changed her. She is no longer the seventeen year old girl Locke remembers.

The ending of the novel is sad but hopeful. The reader is left with the impression that Locke has come to terms  to some degree, with what has happened to him and his existence in the future. There's an interesting theme of religion and sanctuary throughout the series. Jenna and then Locke, and finally Locke and Raine are given sanctuary by Catholic priests. Locke and Raine meet often in a church where they spend time just being together. And Locke remembers his days as an altar boy, when he was fully human, 260 years ago.

Overall Pearson has written a good series that explores what it means to be human, with a bit of action and some romance.

Book Details:
Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson
New York: Henry Holt and Company   2013
288 pp.

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