Adaptation (1st book in Adaptation series)
By: Malinda Lo
Published: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Company
For this week’s read I delved into Malinda Lo’s sci-fi paranormal book Adaptation. I will admit that it was not my initial book I was planning to talk about but sadly it did not keep my attention and I felt that I was reading the book out of order. Despite the book being the first in the series. So I put down that one and picked up this one, hoping for a better reading experience and I was not disappointed.
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.
The first five chapters deals with Reese and David getting caught up in bizarre scenario where across North America (and they actually do mean North America! They do bring up Canada and Mexico), flocks of birds throw themselves into airplanes, causing over 100 planes to crash across the continent. All this happening on a single day. Fearing terrorism, the FAA shuts down any and all airplanes from taking off. With Reese and David trapped in Arizona and needing to return to their homes in San Francisco, they get a car and start to drive home when a bird strikes the car and cause them to crash. Crash outside an army base, but not just ANY army base. They crash outside of Area 51. They are locked inside an army hospital for nearly a month, given mysterious treatment, forced to sign a NDA before being released to their parents again. The rest of the story follows Reese not feeling the same since the accident, experiencing huge gaps in her memories between the night of the crash and the day she woke up in the hospital.
Reese, unlike your typical teen, has no interest in dating or kissing boys. She is more interested in living her life solo. She refuses to even consider the idea of who she might date due to her experience watching her mother’s heart get broken repeatedly over the years by her father. He cheated on her countless times, and any time they got back together only ended up with him leaving and her mother heartbroken. No, she refuses to take the chance that she will experience the pain and heartbreak her mother went through. Reese even goes as far to refuse to indulge in her long-held feelings for David, despite months having passed since he broke up with his girlfriend. That plan crumbles down to the ground when she runs into the beautiful new girl in town: Amber Gray. Taken in by something mysterious, Reese walks her home before Amber promptly declares that Reese is not straight and kisses her to prove it. This kiss moves Reese down a path of not only sexual identity exploration (is she gay, straight, bisexual?) but it forces her to deal with her feelings about being in a romantic relationship and what she experienced second hand through her parent’s relationship. Neither of these is easy to answer or deal with, especially when you have to deal with government interference at every turn. With the book just introducing these issues, it is refreshing to see that Reese is no closer to answering them by the end, giving them the proper chance to grow and be examined in the follow-up book Inheritance.
Trust and faith are two big issues this story deals with as well. How can Reese trust someone with her heart after watching what her mother went through all those years? Who do Reese and David put their faith in once they are released from the military hospital- the government? How much trust should Reese put into David when she discovers what the military did to him? What about Amber: should Reese be putting her faith and trust in her? What about the crazy attacks from the birds on the airplanes- should Reese and David trust their own government when they say it was just a random event, one that can be solved by eradicating all the birds? Some of these questions are answered in this book (Let’s be honest: can we really trust our governments to tell us the complete truth?), while others are merely starting to be fleshed out and explored deeper.
I would also love to take the time to talk about the covers for all three books (Adaptation, Inheritance, and Natural Selection). They are absolutely stunning! The covers are simple and clean yet draws in your eye. I find the blurring of the titles an interesting choice, especially with Adaptation being blurrier then Inheritance, which suggests to me that with Adaptation things are unclear and disorienting, Inheritance things will come into focus and become easier to navigate. Even looking at Adaptation’s title now makes me feel a little dizzy and like my eyes are out of focus.
I loved reading this book and I am more than excited to pick up Inheritance, but I need to get through the books I picked up in January first! I am trying to show restraint here >.> I did read the novella Natural Selection and enjoyed how it fleshed out the background universe a little bit more and learnt more about Amber’s history.
As always, leave your comments, questions, and feedback down below. It makes my day (well night) at work when they show up on my phone.