Book Thoughts: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

(** I received this book in exchange for an honest review.)

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.

Imagine: A building on fire behind a car that has been flipped. The front seats hold two teenagers – a girl and a boy – who are most likely going to get together. No one is yelling or crying. A few nondescript people are pulling the kids out of the car; it’s obvious the teens have no chance. The screen focuses on a sign in the background. It says “Area 51. All trespassers will be prosecuted.”

Let’s flash to reality. I was actually reading the book Adaptation, not watching some intense action movie. But reading this book felt like I was. It’s cool to see text come to life before your eyes, but with this novel, it seemed over dramatic and too Hollywood-ish. The beginning moves very quickly and all the action happens at once. I understand that readers want to get to the good part of a book, but I don’t want to be reminded of a movie in fast forward.

On the other hand, I think Lo portrayed Reese’s feelings well. At first, I was confused with the protagonist’s feelings toward David. Did she like him? Hate him? Want to punch herself in the face? These questions hounded my mind. I also thought that her transition from liking David to liking Amber was a little quick. Go Reese for not caring about the sex she’s attracted to! I respected her for that, but it still wasn’t a realistic reaction.

It wasn’t until later in the novel that I noticed that her emotions began to have some depth.  Her attraction vacillates between Amber and David and back all at once. Reese is no torn between two people close to her; from this moment, her emotions become more relatable. She not only develops a more complex relationship with those two people, but also herself. I was very happy to read about this new side to Reese and hoped character would continue to develop.

Still, it wasn’t until the third quarter of the book that I began to see unique personalities. At the same time, Reese’s voice did not unveil itself until that part of the novel. I discovered that the protagonist is strong, sarcastic and confident. I had liked Reese’s character from the beginning, but I would have liked to see her strengths at the start too.

The rest of the story has an equal amount of positives and negatives. I love that this story has a bad girl, not a bad guy. Amber is sexy, fascinating and confident – everything that I would like to see more in the YA genre. The plot itself is an interesting take on the conspiracy around Area 51. However, the awkward pacing of the novel does not smooth itself, and the reader is taken on an interesting ride through the plot.

Given these points, Adaptation is a book I liked but didn’t love. If you’re looking for book with aliens or an interesting LGBT novel, then you should check this book out.


One thought on “Book Thoughts: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

  1. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.

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