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Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Adaptation (edition 2012)

by Malinda Lo

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208None57,057 (3.6)2
Authors:Malinda Lo
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:science fiction, YA, teen sexuality, conspiracies

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Adaptation by Malinda Lo




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Reese is a seventeen year old debate team star who finds herself in the middle of a government conspiracy concerning aggressive birds, extraterrestrials and an interesting twist on the love triangle. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this Young Adult novel but will admit to being pleasantly surprised. The book starts out fast and even with some slower parts near the middle, I never lost interest. Reese is headstrong and independent but still uses her head to make intelligent decisions. The love triangle between Reese and her debate partner David and new friend Amber made for a refreshing take on the tired plot device even if I didn’t really find Amber all that likable. Overall, this was an enjoyable and interesting beginning to the series. I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  LissaJ | Apr 4, 2014 |
Adaptation by Malinda Lo is the first book in the author's YA science fiction series. I have previously reviewed Ash, which was a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. Adaptation is set in the almost-present in the US.

Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same.

On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, 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.

For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?

I had mixed feelings about this book. Some of the time it was a mix of irritation and meh, but ultimately I enjoyed the read, I just didn't love it. I'll say up front that I do intend to read the sequel when it becomes accessible.

The first thing that irritated me was the airport scene at the start. After — as the blurb says — flocks of birds hurl themselves into aeroplanes, all the flights in the US are grounded and no one in the airport the main characters are stuck at behaves like sensible travellers would in that situation. It wasn't particularly relevant to the plot but it annoyed me. Especially when Reese's friend tells her they're worried airports are going to run out of food because they can't fly more in. WTF? She's at Phoenix Airport, a reasonable-sized city. Also, food is generally shipped to airports in trucks, especially when they're in cities (I mean, maybe super-remote ones, OK, but that is not the case here). Anyway, as I said, it wasn't relevant to the plot, but it pissed me off, not least because of the amount of time I've spent in airports of late.

Most of the book leaves the the science fictional aspect on the back-burner and focuses on Reese recovering from the car accident and Reece's budding relationship with Amber. I found this part of the book enjoyable but a little bland, apart from the hints of weird stuff having happened post-accident. The action picks up again as Reece and friends start investigating why her and David's accident treatment is so top secret.

There was a particular trope used during the climax — I won't say what because spoilers, but it wasn't a YA-specific trope — which I am sick of seeing and which almost pushed the book down half a star. But Lo subverts it quite satisfyingly, which salvaged the ending nicely.

There wasn't a love triangle in this book — although Reece had two love interests — and I liked the very accepting way everyone treated Reece's relationship with Amber. It was nice to see a homosexual relationship not being treated as a big deal, which I think is exactly what Lo was going for. I have to say, though, I felt ambivalent about Amber as a character.

Ultimately, it was a pleasant read, though not a remarkable one. I liked it, but I did love it. I recommend it to YA fans, especially those looking for a bisexual main character, which doesn't come up in many books (I can only think of one other series off the top of my head). I hope the science fiction element is stronger in the sequel, as that was the aspect I found most interesting.

4 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
( )
  Tsana | Mar 31, 2014 |
I got an eGalley of this book to review from NetGalley. I am a big fan of Malinda Lo's previous works (Huntress and Ash). I was excited when I saw she was coming out with a new series, but also a bit leery of the fact that is was more of a sci-fi thriller series. This book was okay. I enjoyed the beginning, was confused by how different the middle was, and then thought the ending was just too typical of alien conspiracy types of books.

Reese and David are returning home from a Debate competition along with their coach. At least that is the plan until birds start flying into planes by the flock and planes all over North America are crashing. With their flight canceled Reese and David decide to rent a car and drive home. After a horrible accident in the Nevada desert...Reese wakes up nearly a month later. She is trying to go about her normal life, but something is different. Her and David have strange abilities. Of course that is not the only strange thing going on….

This was an interesting read. One thing I love about Malinda Lo is her beautiful and lyrical writing style. While this style works well for fairy tale retellings, it obviously wasn't a style that would work well in this sci-fi thriller. Lo made a purposeful departure from her previous writing style for this book. I missed her lyrical writing style in this book, her style is much more stark and at times a bit hard to engage with in this book.

Reese and David were both kind of blah characters for me. They just didn’t have much personality. This definitely wasn’t a character driven story. Reese does meet a spunky girl named Amber who was a lot more fun to read about. However, even Amber comes off as your typical pixie dreamgirl type of stereotype.

The story was kind of all over the place as far as pacing goes. I was completely sucked into the beginning of the story, it was so scary and interesting and engaging. Then in the middle of the book we take a side trip into a romance between Reese and this girl she meets (Amber). It was odd to have such an abrupt switch in pacing. Then in the last third of the book we start to deal with oodles of government conspiracy, things get interesting again but a lot of this part of the plot is just so typical of alien conspiracy books.

I did like some things about this book. It was a young adult sci-fi novel that is easily accessible, it never gets too confusing or complex. There are some good ideas in here as well. I like that Lo doesn't shy away from having her main character be bi-sexual (and a bit confused about it all).

This leads me to a side comment about the romance between Reese and Amber….it was just such insta-love...I hate insta-love. I don’t care who the love is between but two characters that fall immediately and desperately for each other is just soooooo typical of oodles of YA books out there.

The book wraps up okay. There is a sequel to it called Inheritance, that I probably won’t be reading.

Overall my feelings were just all over the place about the quality of the story. I loved the beginning, thought the middle was boring, and thought the end was okay. The characters are a bit blah and hard to engage with. The end of the story dives straight into very typical alien conspiracy theory and had me rolling my eyes a bit. I would tentatively recommended to those who want an okay YA sci-fi book to read. I personally will not be reading the second book in this series. ( )
  krau0098 | Mar 30, 2014 |
As a long time fan of science fiction (yes, that's one hell of an understatement) and a huge fan of Lo's first two novels, I had high hopes for Adaptation. I now feel those expectations were probably too great, but nevertheless I have every reason to be let down.

What I loved about Ash was its fantastic tone and setting with cute characters. What I loved about Huntress were its strong characters and anthropological elements. But I can't really find much to love about Adaptation, although it is nice to see strong bisexual characters (if that's really what's going on here). Basically the protagonist is a caliscrub, and she's more than a little annoying. Additionally, nearly every "sci-fi" scene is an obvious homage to the X-Files. I had been lead to believe that Malinda Lo is a better writer than this. There's no reason this story had to be so cookie-cutter derived. Obviously her editor wanted a book with broader appeal that wasn't so feminine it would put off the non-existent male readership she could potentially attract with a bisexual sci-fi.

There were a few cute moments here and there, and it does act as an extended mystery, so all is not lost. I was also pleased that it really wasn't as dystopic as I had been lead to believe. But I didn't find myself really liking the main characters, except Amber, who's treated like scum for half the book by the jaded protagonist. Obviously this could easily be explained by the fact that California culture (at least the kind that's sold to kids) really bores and frustrates me. Did we really need another Weetzie Bat? Is this really what young adults want to read about? And if so, why did someone with Lo's talent have to waste her time writing it? ( )
  senbei | Dec 7, 2013 |
Very well-done, high-tension plot---definitely a page-turner. Plus, a bisexual protagonist! Who isn't flat or stereotypical! In a SCI FI BOOK! If that isn't remarkable, I don't know what is. ( )
  NeitherNora | Sep 7, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316197963, Hardcover)

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 is a bold contemporary science-fiction thriller from the acclaimed author of Ash.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:27 -0400)

In the aftermath of a series of plane crashes caused by birds, seventeen-year-old Reese and her debate-team partner, David, receive medical treatment at a secret government facility and become tangled in a conspiracy that is, according to Reese's friend, Julian, connected with aliens and UFOs.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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