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Jenna Starborn [Mass Market Paperback]

Sharon Shinn
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 25 2003
From the award-winning author of the Samaria trilogy-a classic story of a woman with the will to rise above the darkest secrets...

A baby harvested from the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus.

A girl scorned by the only family she has ever known.

A woman brave enough to follow her heart-wherever in the universe it may lead her.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the Samaria trilogy (Archangel, etc.) offers a moving, if somewhat less introspective, retelling of Jane Eyre that is sure to appeal to SF readers with a taste for romance. The product of the planet Baldus's gen-tanks, Jenna Starborn is used to a life of pain and privation. After being educated at a technical school that focuses on the growth of the mind to the exclusion of all else, Jenna accepts a job as a nuclear reactor maintenance technician at remote Thorrastone Park, owned by the wealthy Everett Ravenbeck. She becomes indispensable to the household and to Everett. Despite their difference in stations Jenna is only a half-citizen they fall in love. After a long, difficult courtship made longer because of the perversity of the two principals, the two plan to marry. But at the wedding, Jenna receives a terrible shock: Everett has another wife. Unable to live with him as his wife without being married, Jenna flees to a remote planet, where she falls in with a family that provides help and aid to travelers. She's on the verge of deciding whether to marry another and go with him to colonize a new planet when she hears Everett's voice, impossibly calling from afar. Reader, need we say what happens next? Jane Eyre fans will enjoy tracking the character and plot parallels. Shinn fans will enjoy the way the author perfectly captures the tone and color of Bront‰ while maintaining Jenna's unique voice. Best of all, Jenna's narrative makes us feel joy in her love, sorrow in her despair, numb in her shock. (Apr. 2)Forecast: Unlike Jasper Fforde's satiric literary fantasy, The Eyre Affair (Forecasts, Dec. 17), this novel is targeted primarily at a female audience. Ad coverage in Romantic Times and Shinn's established reputation in the romance field will ensure plenty of crossover support.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Conceived in the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus and rejected by the woman who commissioned her birth, Jenna Starborn finds a career as a nuclear generator technician on the inhospitable planet Fieldstar. At the estate of Thorrastone Park, Jenna finds solace and friendship in the household's staff; she also succumbs to a forbidden attraction to the mysterious master of the house, Everett Ravenbeck, and finds her life changed forever. The author of the Samaria trilogy (Archangel, Jovah's Angel, and The Alleluia Files) has adapted the classic plot of Jane Eyre, setting it in a distant future where money and status divide humanity into citizens and half-citizens, and where breaking social barriers becomes a near impossibility. This hybrid blend of sf drama and Gothic romance features a strong-willed, genuinely likable heroine and belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
You would think that if someone commissioned your conception, paid for your gestation, and claimed you immediately after your harvesting, she would love you with her whole heart; but you would be wrong. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and delicious treat Nov. 16 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
this book is an absolute treat. If you love Jane Eyre -so do I- you will feel the fun in foreseeing the events in the plot but wondering how the author will adapt them to this sf setting. If you love science fiction you will feel interested in the multilayered society that the author decpicts, where the caste one person is born in is totally decissive of this person's fate. I don't feel that any literary work is untouchable or sacred, as long as the new versions respect the themes that the original author wanted to convey. This version unquestionably does. On the other hand, I think the original, beloved Jane Eyre is also a wonderful version of the ancient tale of Beauty and the Beast. This is, of course, not the only remake that we know of Jane Eyre; I suppose everybody remembers Rebecca so...what's all the fuss about? Jane Eyre is such a good story, it conveys its thems so well, that it is immortal and can be adapted to any period of time ...including the far future of a sf novel. And only an author who loved this story and knew it in depth could attempt to do what Sharon Shinn has done here. Thank you, Ms.Shinn, for proving to me in this nice way that Jane Eyre will never die and that its message will always be good!
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2.0 out of 5 stars perhaps a joke Nov. 10 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My comment is probably redundant, but the feeling behind it is strong: I couldn't believe it, when I finished the book. I asked myself what motivation would an author so well versed and interesting as Ms. Shinn possibly have for engaging in a risky competition with Bronte -- and then compromising like a novice, with not even a modicum of effort for coming up with an original plot element. I haven't figured out a decent answer yet. That this is a rewriting of "Jane Eyre" doesn't bother me; what does bother me very much is the fact that it is a ridiculous rewriting of "Jane Eyre". Peel away the dramatic tension; move forward in time, change planets; switch the secret wife with a crazy robot - there you have it.
If this is your first book by Ms. Shinn, it's not that bad. There are enough traces of the author's usual good story telling ability and engagement with the characters to make it a pleasant read - maybe less so if you liked "Jane Eyre". But if indeed this is your first encounter with the author, give this well-deserving author a chance and start with some of her other works.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Not Fundamentally Engaging Oct. 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you have not read "Jane Eyre" in a while, you may enjoy this book as a reminder of that experience. I did. I loved "Jane Eyre" and my reading interests include science fiction, fantasy and romance, so I am likely an ideal reader for "Jenna Starborn." I was interested but never profoundly moved. I finished "Jenna Starborn" and would not rate it as a waste of time, but found it more engaging as an academic exercise than as a novel-reading experience.
Sharon Shinn must truly love "Jane Eyre" to have recreated it this way, but this version never quite comes to life. I think some of the most interesting elements have to do with the very stratified society she envisions. "Jane Eyre" was set in such a world, and there could indeed be a version again. I'd have liked to see a book or story that pursued that idea further, even at the expense of dropping the original premise of recreating the Jane Eyre plot in the future.
If you have never read "Jane Eyre," this book will likely frustrate you, as many elements are included in order to create the parallel rather than because this world and these characters demand them.
Fans of hard core science fiction fans should not look to "Jenna Starborn" for science-based speculation. The science is minimal and the book has little enthusiasm for it.
This was my first outing with this author, and I suspect she has done better. Flawed though this book was, I enjoyed myself enough that I will certainly try her again!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting experiment--too bad it fails April 7 2003
Format:Paperback
The best thing about this book is the fact that it led me to read JANE EYRE so I could see exactly what the author was doing.
By the way, although this so far is the only book by Sharon Shinn that I've read, I acknowledge her writing skill. The fault doesn't lie at all in writing skills, but in sticking too closely to the Jane Eyre story. There are differences. The girl's home and school experiences are somewhat condensed so as to conform more to today's literary style.
And the book comes quite to life in one scene where Jenna is drawn into the space simulation game which isn't quite parallel to the charade scene in Jane Eyre. In fact, if the remainder of Jenna Starborn's story had been allowed to build more from that scene, it would've been a much better story.
As it is, this book is merely an oddity and an interesting, but failed, experiment. The gothic overtones fight too much with the futuristic setting.
I don't tell you not to read this, because there may well be those that will be suitably fascinated by the author's attempt. However, I suspect that it holds only rarified interest value, and that you'd be better off reading the original, if you haven't, and also Ms. Shinn's other novels which sound as it they're more successful,
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing release, weak science Aug. 25 2002
Format:Paperback
I was thrilled when my hold at the library came in--but was quickly disillusioned. I have read and enjoyed tremendously Shinn's previous books, but this one is nowhere near as good. The first-person narrative is awkward. One is supposed to believe the text is an account narrated by Jenna into her voice recorder/diary gadget, the "Reeder recorder", hence the irritating phrase "Dear Reeder". This nuclear technician fears to search the computer nets for news of her former employer, lest Ravenbeck might trace the contact and discover her current whereabouts. He owns numerous properties across the galaxie, is a very wealthy class-one citizen, but only employs one nuclear technician to maintain and monitor the (mission-critical) shielding and generating system for this large but remote planetary estate. He is injured severely, yet sits brooding in the guest room of his mine manager, instead of getting his damaged tissues regenerated. How come his vast financial empire ignores his situation? The attempt to graft science futurism onto Victorian society just doesn't work. I'm glad I didn't buy this, and hope Ms. Shinn goes back to original stories featuring strong female leads in fantastical settings. Forget the literary games!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brontës in space
Jenna Starborn is heavily influenced by the sisters Brontë. As I have enjoyed their books, I loved the way this book stiched together the plot points of Jane Eyre and Wuthering... Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by Sarah Sammis
2.0 out of 5 stars A weak retelling
I was intrigued when I first saw this book, but after reading it, I am only disappointed. The book was shallow and unengaging throughout. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Ho-hum
This book is the futuristic retelling of the story Jane Eyre, which is one of my all-time favorite books. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars "Oh, gee, I want to write a book, but I can't come up
..Honestly...after ploughing through this travesty of a book, the above is the only rationale I could imagine for its creation. Read more
Published on July 5 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a sci-fi!
This book is a romance with slight sci-fi overtones. It's predictable with only a very few unexpected turns. The dialog is dry and unbelievable. Read more
Published on May 6 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Jane Eire on a different planet
Take _Jane Eyre_ and move it into a science fiction setting and you have the story. BUT! I have always liked Sharon Shinn's ability to make the setting of a story a believable... Read more
Published on April 13 2003 by Maye Vanarsdel
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Keeper
I have loved previous Sharon Shinn novels. When I saw that she had a new novel, I bought it immediately. But I would advise readers who love Sharon Shinn to borrow this book. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise
I was prepared not to like this book. I have often wanted to rewrite someone else's book and add a few things that appealed to me. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2002 by C. Glover
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