Lo, Malinda Adaptation, 386 pgs. Little, Brown and Company, 2012. $17.99. Language: R (39 swears, 3 ‘F’); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.
When flocks of birds cause dozens of planes to crash and hundreds are killed, chaos and fear erupt across the United States. After the government grounds all airplanes indefinitely, Reese and her debate partner, David, find themselves stranded in Phoenix, Arizona. With their debate coach, Mr. Chapman, they rent a car and try to drive home to San Francisco, but their trip ends in tragedy. Alone, bewildered, and afraid, the two find themselves driving through a section of the desert labeled as Area 51, famous for its alleged alien encounters. Suddenly a bird flies straight at their car, causing it to flip, and Reese finds herself flying through the air, falling, and crashing into utter blackness. After several weeks, Reese wakes up from a coma, her body covered in horrific scars, and finds herself housed in a government medical facility in the desert. While the rest of the country has returned to normal, miraculously both David and Reese have survived the deadly crash. For Reese, however, nothing will ever again be the same. Now, she is haunted by a reoccurring dream of floating in a yellow sac with rivers of red streaming down the walls, men in black are following her, and she suspects that more than just “healing” happened to her while inside the facility. When she meets the beautiful and seductive Amber Gray, Reese begins a journey that forces her to question the government, to reexamine truth and reality as she knows it, and to redefine her own identity.
While the idea behind the story is intriguing, the middle portion of the story is sluggish to develop and doesn’t pick up again until the last 100 pages. The characters weren’t as compelling as I had hoped and could have been better developed too. I found Reese’s emotions to be contrived and forced at times and wished that they had been more realistic or believable. Also, the sexual tension between Reese and Amber was uncomfortable and didn’t ring true. I would have enjoyed the book more if the plot had more rising action and suspense, if the characters had been more fully developed, and if the theme of sexual identity had been more compelling and moving. The mature themes and language in this book make it more appropriate for high school students.
HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Patricia, Teacher