Title: Jenna Starborn
Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: 2002, Ace
Category: Science Fiction / Romance
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. :)