Book Reviews

Adaptation (Malinda Lo)

Adaptation (Malinda Lo)Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Series: Adaptation #1
Published by Hodder Children's Books on 03-04-2014
Genres: LGBTQ, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
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.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★

If you’ve been following the blog for long, you’ll probably know there are a few things I absolutely cannot resist, and while this book doesn’t have all of them (there’s a distinct lack of dragons) it does tick a lot of my boxes. Secret government conspiracy? Check. Mysterious, creepy, apocalyptic scenarios? Check. LGBTQ relationships? Check.

In the near-future, Reese and David are debate partners, stranded at the airport when flocks of birds start flying into planes and causing them to crash.  After the two eventually manage to hire a car, they leave the airport and begin making their way home. During the drive, they are involved in a crash thanks to more weird bird behaviour, and later wake up in a mysterious facility, confused but seemingly fine.  The story has a great, action-packed beginning, and a breakneck paced ending, but it slows down a bit in the middle – not at all a deal-breaker, but not something I was expecting.  It’s fairly impossible to talk about the plot without giving anything away, but suffice to say I loved the idea, and I’m intrigued as to where the story will go next!

“People are always going to think something about you that isn’t real. It doesn’t matter what they think.”

First things first, while this is a sci-fi story, there’s also a lot of romance. There’s a love triangle, but instead of the cliche good boy vs bad boy, it’s more a case of nice-boy vs exciting-girl, as Reese begins to wonder just what she’s feeling about the mysterious Amber.  Obviously, everyone’s sexuality and experience is different, but as a bisexual reader I personally found the unexpected development of feelings towards the same sex, and all the questioning that went with it, very realistic.  I loved reading a bisexual love triangle and I loved how Lo portrayed all the emotions that each of the characters involved felt.  On the other hand, I didn’t feel like any of the characters was really developed enough – David was bland, Reese was too passive and compliant, and Amber felt like a bit of a manic pixie dreamgirl.  It’s hard to get truly invested in the possible ships when you don’t really connect to any of the characters!

“It’s like — this is going to sound weird, but it’s like we’re in a movie and every time I’m with you, the camera zooms in for a close-up and we’re the only two people in the frame. Do you know what I mean? You’re the close-up.”

I know objectively, that Adaptation isn’t perfect: parts were predictable and I was disappointed by the character depth. Despite the flaws though, I really liked it, and I find myself recommending this all the time.  I’m really looking forward to reading book 2, because Lo has created a gripping plotline I can’t wait to read more of, and a cast I want to love, even if I don’t just yet.

Buy it? I think this is worth a re-read, so it’s a buy for me.
In a nutshell: Bisexual love triangle + near-future apocalypse = definitely worth a read!

Other reviews of Adaptation: The Book Smugglers | Rhapsody in Books | Death, Books, and Tea

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