Saturday, November 06, 2010

Jenna Starborn, Sharon Shinn

Title: Jenna Starborn
Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: 2002, Ace
Category: Science Fiction / Romance
Rating: 7/10

I was really wanting to read Shinn's new book, Troubled Waters, but it's a hardcover so I didn't want to buy it and it's not available at any of my libraries. Sigh. So I read this one instead -- it's one of the few on Shinn's backlist that I hadn't read yet.

This is a science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre, which is a story that deserves retelling because it's so good. The plot follows the original story very closely, though the characters live on distant planets, Jenna is a nuclear reactor technician rather than a governess, and the unwanted wife's troubles are a bit different. I was torn between enjoying the futuristic version of the original story's events (which I know so well) and wishing that the plot was a little less similar. I've read Jane Eyre so many times that I knew exactly what was coming next.

Shinn captures the gothic, gloomy feel of Jane Eyre quite well, giving it a new spin by placing most of the action on a dark and inhospitable world. Jenna is as annoyingly good and moral as Jane is, though somehow you still end up liking her. My one real complaint about the book is actually also a problem I have with Jane Eyre: the overdramatic, "If I can't have you, I'll die!" ultra-romantic, overwrought action of the love story. I think this is why many people love Jane Eyre, but it's never sat particularly well with me. But it's a great story, nonetheless. :)


Rosario said...

This is one of the very few Shinns I haven't read yet, mainly because all the comments I've seen have been unenthusiastic. I'll probably read it at some point, I guess.

Li said...

This is possibly my least favourite Shinn. I agree with what you said about the plot being too similar to the original - I think events became too predictable and the romance between the h/h never quite caught a spark, IMO.

There is a new Jane Eyre retelling coming out (April Lindner IIRC), which has had some quite glowing reviews - it'll be interesting to see how that compares to this one.

Top Romantic Movies said...

An interesting idea. It takes guts to try to re-work such a timeless classic as Jane Eyre, which is one of my all time favorites. I would probably read this out of curiosity, to see how Shin has re-imagined it. Thanks for the review!

Traxy said...

This is on my reading list, but I'm currently reading "Sloane Hall" by Libby Sternberg - an early Hollywood retelling of Jane Eyre. Very good too. :) April Lindner's "Jane" is also on the waiting list!