Review: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

by Malinda Lo

ISBN-13: 9-780316-197960
Publication: September 18, 2012 from Little, Brown BYR
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it

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.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo is an interesting young adult science fiction story that gives the reader not just aliens, but Area 51, conspiracies, genetics and one hell of a cliffhanger!

Reese and David are away on a school debate club trip when birds start going crazy and randomly dying, falling out of the air and even into planes, crashing quite a few throughout the United States and Canada. Grounded, the teacher chaperone rents a car and begins their long drive home to San Francisco – and that’s where the action begins. With the bird strikes bringing down planes, the government blocking off areas of cities, lots of questions and no answers, people have begun to panic a bit. There’s an attempted car theft, a shooting, more dead birds and a horrific car accident all within the first bit of the book. But then it slows. And there is a lot of speculation on what happened to Reese and David in the car accident, talking about what’s happening with the birds, Reese has some funky dreams and falls in like with Amber, a girl who literally runs into her one day and has questionable loyalties and aims, Reese does some painting, and then not much more action until the end which leads up to a crazy cliffhanger just when it was getting intense.

Most of the middle of the book actually focuses on Reese and Amber’s growing relationship, Reese’s questions about her sexuality, and the crazy yellow and red room Reese keeps seeing in her dreams that she feels means more than she can remember. After the car accident, she and David were treated at a military hospital and are forbidden to speak of it to anyone else. So of course you know some crazyness had to have gone down while they were there (think genetics). There are plenty of secrets to be had in Adaptation, and the revelations about some of them are really well timed and explored. There is quite a good conspiracy going on throughout the story and the sci-fi elements are wicked. I would have liked to see more aliens rather than the insides of military complexes and hospital rooms, but I feel the aliens may play a bigger roll in the sequel. Reese is an interesting character and I enjoyed getting to know her – her voice is very clear throughout the story, as are descriptions, explanations and emotions (especially emotions!)

Adaptation by Malinda Lo may be a bit of a quieter sci-fi than I generally enjoy, but there were enough elements that kept me guessing, wondering and frustratingly wanting to strangle government people that I zipped through the book at a good pace and stayed entertained while reading. The rather abrupt end leaves the reader hanging for the sequel, and while that can sometimes backfire, in this case I am just eager to get my hands on book two so I can find out what happens with Reese, David and the aliens! Because guys, aliens. How can you not want to know how the story continues?

e-ARC provided by Netgalley and Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!