Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The premise of Adaptation comes straight from Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic movie, The Birds.  But rather than the birds attacking people, large flocks of birds cause airplanes to crash by blocking the engines.  My second impression is that the scenario is reminiscent of the 9/11 tragedy.  The two main characters, Reese and David, are stranded by the FAA grounding of all flights on their way back from a debate tournament.  So far there’s not much original about this story, but it is rather exciting.

With all flights cancelled indefinitely, Reese, David, and their debate coach rent a car to drive home from Phoenix to San Francisco.  Somewhere in Nevada, the debate coach is shot in an attempted car-jacking, which is really shocking, and very vividly described.  David and Reese escape, and while on a detour due to highway closures (roadblocks manned by the National Guard, which is the first hint of the government cover-up that is revealed later), they are in a severe accident in the middle of the desert, which is caused by a crazed bird flying straight at the car.

Twenty-seven days later, Reese wakes up and finds herself in an anonymous hospital room, covered in scars from what appear to be extremely serious injuries.  She is, however, in remarkably good shape considering the extent of her injuries, able to get out of bed and move around without pain.  She is visited by a doctor who tells her about the severity of the accident and that the treatments she received are experimental and highly classified.  David sustained similar injuries and received the same treatment.  Prior to being released to their parents, both Reese an David sign a cryptic nondisclosure agreement.

When Reese returns home, she attempts to return to her normal life, but she literally runs into Amber, a beautiful young woman to whom she finds herself irresistably attracted.  It’s at this point that the book began to lose interest for me.  The beginning of the book described Reese’s crush on David, but as soon as Amber shows up, suddenly Reese is, if not gay, at least bisexual.  It just seemed to come out of nowhere.  Also, there’s pretty detailed descriptions of PG-13 encounters between Reese and Amber, which I could have done without.  I have no problem with homosexuality, but I’m also not interested in reading about such sexual encounters.  I guess I would have liked to have some warning that something like this was coming.  I’ll admit that I would not have read the book had I known about this element of the story.

As the story progresses, Reese, David, and Reese’s best friend, Julian, begin to uncover a conspiracy behind the bird attacks and plane crashes.  But the conspiracy is deeper than they ever could imagine, as is revealed at the end of the book.  There’s a really random twist at the end (stop reading now if you don’t like spoilers), and suddenly Amber is an alien sent to keep an eye on Reese, and the mysterious treatments David and Reese received involve alien DNA.  The alien element seemed really random, with no hints leading up to it.  Again, an element that probably would have kept me from picking the book up.  I actually almost didn’t finish the book at several points, but I trudged through it so I could write about it.

Like many young adult books, this one is going to have a sequel, which I will not be reading. 

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