Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Truth Is Still Out There: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

In the skies over North America, large flocks of birds suddenly hurl themselves into planes, causing dozens of deadly crashes and forcing airports to shut down acroos the continent.  Reese Holloway, her debate partner and crush David, and their teacher are trapped at an airport on their way back from a debate competition when the nation enters a state of panicked emergency.  During their harrowing drive home to San Francisco, a bird flies in front of their headlights and the car flips, landing them in a ditch along a dark Nevada road.

When Reese wakes up in a strange military hospital a month later, she finds her body mysteriously and miraculously healed of any injuries and her mind confused and full of questions.  What exactly happened in that hospital?  Why can't Reese or David tell anyone anything they remember about the place? 

And after Reese returns home to California and meets the mysterious and alluring Amber Gray, her questions only grow.
What is the government hiding about the thousands of dead birds? What is Amber hiding? And who--or what--has Reese become since the accident?

A large amount of the science fiction recently published for young adults usually fits into the popular dystopian, futuristic, or speculative fiction molds.  But here, in her first foray into the genre,  excellent fantasy writer Malinda Lo, dives right into more traditional, fierce, and frightening science fiction territory: government conspiracies, medical experimentation, and possible contact with forces beyond our planet.  Adaptation presents a scenerio that could happen anytime in the next few years; it's immediate rather than futuristic and in many ways, this fact automatically increases the suspense and the fear factor.  Additionally, novel has a plot that hits the ground running during the opening pages and doesn't stop twisting and turning all the way up to the book's final lines.  The story is action-packed and full of intertwined mysteries that will keep the reader guessing along with Reese as she struggles to make sense of the strange turns her life has taken.       

However, Adaptation is more than a thrill-ride.  Lo continues to demonstrate her distguished ability to create and maintain a richly diverse cast of characters, without ever making any of them seem like a stereotype or a token representation of multiculturalism.  Her characters live in a much more realistically multicultural world than that frequently imagined in fictional visions of the United States.  None of the characters of color or  LGBTQ characters are defined purely by those pieces of their identity.  And in the midst of a science fiction thriller, Lo paints an excellent picture of the fluidity and process of discovery inherent in identity development for young adults.  Moreoever, her characters and their relationships are complex and emotionally resonant. 

Between conspiracy theories worthy of the best X-Files episodes, non-stop action, and truly interesting characters,  Adaptation is a novel you won't be able to put down once you pick it up! 

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