Sunday, 23 September 2012

review: Adaptation

by Malindo Lo
Little, Brown BFYR, September 18 2012
young adult sci-fi thriller
received from publisher (thank you!)

Across North America, flocks of birds fly into planes, causing thousands of deaths and a ban on all flights by the US government. Reese and debate partner David are driving home to when a bird flies into their car, and they crash. Reese wakes up, miraculously healed, in a classified military hospital, but returning home doesn't give bring the answers she needs, especially with her new relationship with the beautiful Amber Gray and what just might be a government conspiracy kept secret for decades...
(Eugh. I hate ending with ellipses. Sorry, y'all.)

The cover:

It's eerie, and it evokes the right mood for the novel's atmosphere (i.e. creepy), but the colour choice is odd, considering how specifically the colours yellow and red are detailed in the story. As well, the water is kind of nonexistent in the actual book. So what's up with that, LBBFYR?

The book:

Like most (if not all) thrillers, this novel relies on a constant atmosphere of tension. Constant as in, from the very beginning. It'll take some suspension of belief to get through the first few chapters, since we're thrown right into the weirdness, followed by a stint in a hospital with characters occasionally dropping a CSI-esque line (a plane's windows are blacked out because "'The location of this facility is classified,' Agent Forrestal said." p. 76).

Character development is difficult when the protagonist is consistently panicking or worrying, but surprisingly, Reese doesn't come off as too flat, probably through the few flashbacks of her and Julian. However, the latter doesn't quite make it past 2D, especially when his main function seems to be to feed the conspiracy theories. Having him commiserate with Reese's situation creates only temporary depth.

The LGBTQ love triangle with Reese, Amber and David is tolerable for the fact that all three are involved in the main plot of uncovering the truth. In addition, Reese's feelings regarding both are never truly compared in a "should I go with him or her?" way; she only switches from one to the other when the original proves false. The plot itself moves in jerks and fits, with a random kidnapping rather obtusely signaling the beginning of the climax, and not enough information is discovered to explain the organizations of Plato or Project Blue Base. Instead, Adaptation relies on the shock value of the extraterrestial possibility and the government conspiracy to propel itself.

That being said, this book is very readable. With unobtrusive writing and a strong premise, readers will most likely overlook the fact that the original source of fear, the plane crashes involving birds, seems rather incidental and instead focus on the sci-fi potential in Adaptation and its sure-to-come sequels.

Rating: 3 out of 5