Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: Adaptation, by Malinda Lo

Reese remembers the birds. She remembers when they attacked. She remembers the plane crashes. She remembers right up until the accident, and then nothing after. A month has passed when she wakes up in a government facility. She knows that something has changed her. Something has changed the world. She has survived when she should have died, and so has her debate partner, David. And no-one has any answers to give her - or do they?

I enjoyed Adaptation a lot, possibly even more than Ash, despite my eternal love of fairy tales. They are very different books, but they both have a powerfully atmospheric quality to them. Adaptation is particularly interesting because it combines this atmosphere with a science-fiction story that has a massive mystery at its heart.

The world of Adaptation is verging on apocalyptic. After the birds, the public doesn't know what is going on. They are scared. They make up strange theories. Some of them try to investigate. Others trust the authorities, desperately hoping for protection. Reese doesn't know whether to cling to everything that she knows as normal, or to plunge headlong into this strange new chaos.

Of course, having read 'The Birds' by Daphne du Maurier, and watched Hitchcock's The Birds, I could not help but be reminded of them when reading Adaptation, which made it even creepier for me.

I loved the love triangle in Adaptation, despite not usually being a fan of them. Typically, they persist because the main character is trying to decide which love interest s/he is more attracted to or which would be the better choice, but in Adaptation the romantic options represent something more. They indicate two different sides of Reese; two different paths she could take. But at the same time, they are not just symbols, they are interesting characters in their own right who are just as entangled in the plot and the mysteries of the story as she is. I thought I knew which of the two I preferred, part way through the book, but by the end I was fascinated by both of them and I am looking forward to learning more in the sequel, Inheritance.

I also liked all the other characters, from the mysterious figures at the government facility to Reese's mother, who stands up for her daughter and Gets Things Done.

I think that this might be a bit of a Marmite book because of the pacing. From the synopsis you might expect a thriller, and this does have some exciting scenes where I was reading on the edge of my seat/bed, desperate to find out what was going to happen. However, it was also quite a slow burner. I liked this, because it built up the atmosphere and it kept me guessing, but other readers might not.

I am looking forward to reading the sequels - the novella, Natural Selection and the full-length novel, Inheritance. Many thanks to Hodder Children's Books for allowing me to read the ebook of Adaptation via NetGalley.

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