Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

  • Publication Date: September 18th 2012
  • Genre: Science Ficton
  • Pages: 386 (hardcover)
  • Publisher: Little Brown For Young Readers

Synopsis: 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.
Among them are Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David, who are in Arizona when the disaster occurs. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway in the middle of the Nevada 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, 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.

Sitting in a Phoenix airport, Reese Holloway's biggest problem is the humiliation of losing a national debate competition and letting down her partner and crush, David Li. And then things start falling out the sky. 

Thousands of birds and planes plummet to the ground turning the country into temporary chaos. When Reese and David  get in a car crash  trying to get home, they wake up to find  the chaos is just beginning and they've accidentally crashed into one of the country's biggest conspiracies. 

I'm really liking all of these science fiction-y YA books that are coming out. They have all of these out of this  fictionalized elements, but I don't have to worry about world building and  having to navigate an entirely different society and culture.

The story can be slow , but at times it's almost like a psychological thriller as Reese notices that something about her is different, but she has no idea what. Lo's writing is easy to get into and she really bypasses a lot of the usual YA tropes. Reese's parents are present in this book and Reese has a life and goals that extend beyond the present moment of the book.

Why yes that is a Buddy Valestro cut out in the background
So much of this novel is about Reese discovering what happened to her and learning all these secrets of why  birds are falling that I can't talk much about the book without spoiling it. So, I am going to talk less about the plot and more about the novel as whole.

I got this book at a signing Lo did while she was in Richmond at the James River Writer's conference and it was  great to meet her and hear her talk about all the research that went into this book. Reese and David spend some time at a place that may nor may not be Area 51 and for those scenes she did a lot of research. A character in this book is a conspiracy theorist and Lo took the time to learn all the popular conspiracies.

One of the reasons I admire Lo is because she is such an advocate for diversity in YA literature, she runs the Tumblr Diversity in YA. Something you can't really tell by this cover is that this book has a pleasant cast of diverse characters without beating you over the head with the "look at how diverse we are".  

 In fact, I want to talk a bit about how well Lo incorporates diversity by comparing a character in her book to a character in another  YA. In Adaptation, Reese's best friend is a half black, half Jewish gay boy named Julian, very similar to Jamie the "token black Jewish bi friend" in The Unbecoming of Mara DyerBoth characters main role is to support the protagonist, but I think  Lo does a better job of developing this character. Lo gives Julian  purpose and depth. Something I don't think Jamie had in The Unbecoming and I remember that really frustrated me. Also, my personal biggest gripe with Jamie is he has to come out and say he is the ""token black Jewish bi friend" Where in Adaptation we learn about Julian's ethnicity and sexual orientation based on his parents and his relationships not because he says it.

This book is a duology and I feel like this is just the first half of a story, maybe something like a roots or origin story I'm excited about how this will continue to finish the arc.


  1. I don't normall go for the conspiracy theory stories, but these birds have drawn me in. By the way, great review. I loved hearing all that about the author and her diversity :)

  2. That's really interesting. I don't think I've ever read a conspiracy theory novel though this one sounds really thrilling and interesting. I'll have to check it out.

    Great review! : )

  3. I've read both Ash and The Huntress, which I liked, but I'm not a huge fan of the fantasy genre. This one seems a bit more up my alley, although still outside my reading "comfort zone" with the sci-fi, so I'm glad to hear it is a bit psychological thriller. I'm jealous you got to meet Lo! I love all her tumblr posts and anytime she recommends a book on Twitter I definitely add it to my to read list :D


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