Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Author: Malinda Lo
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Release Date: September 12th, 2012
Source: Netgalley

Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

If you like conspiracy theories, aliens, government cover ups and genetic experiments, this might be the book for you. However, if you're like me, Adaptation could just leave you wanting for something more creative.

When I picked up this book, it seemed like something I would enjoy. The opening has a very 'end of the world' type feel to it, and while I felt it moved a bit too fast, there was something exciting about the story line. Getting trapped in an airport while planes are crashing mysteriously due to birds? That seems like a good recipe for a fun book. Once we hit the car crash and the traces of alien conspiracy started showing up, however, I started to loose interest.

I guess it just feels like a 'been there, done that'. Instead of building something new, this book draws onto all kinds of old material. While the opening felt fresh and creative, the middle made me feel like I was watching an old sci-fi on a dusty T.V. I've read some good sci-fi, and I've seen some creative takes on it. This really didn't have that feel to me. 

The most creative aspect involved the birds, but even that gets pushed aside with this awkward coming of age sort of romance aspect that takes up half the book. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind romance or coming of age. But it felt like someone clipped those sections out of a different book and shoved it in the middle of this novel. I would have rather spent more time escaping Phoenix than hearing about Reese's confusing love life. Which is sad, because this is one of the few books that really branches out and diversifies the main characters. The twists and turns seemed to suck out anything 'real' about those interactions though.

The romance with Amber felt forced and unnatural, the opening felt rushed, and I had to spend too long suspending my disbelief. There were also smaller things that bugged me. Like David offering to drive the rental car. Almost all rental companies require drivers be 21 years old to drive, and even then you get fined extra. Then they crash it, and there is just no dealing with the fact they totaled the car. That is some massive debt they just piled on their debate coach's family. The longer I read, the more I started questioning the story line. It felt like a campfire story not a book. There was nothing solid in this novel that drew me in enough to believe what was happening.

Good Sci-Fi has enough in it to make you question what's around you. This book just tried to build on the paranoia that already existed. By the end, it just felt cheesy, and I just wasn't buying any of it.

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