Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Conspiracy Theory Pick: Adaptation

by Malinda Lo
Little, Brown and Company
386 pages

Compelling, clever, twisted, and tense, Adaptation will have you looking under your bed and in closets, hurrying down dark streets and worrying that the guy in a dark suit might be following you.

Reese and David are at Phoenix Airport waiting on a flight home to San Francisco. They were just in a debate tournament and are looking forward to getting home. Reese knows she blew their chances at the win and worries that David is blaming her. She watches as birds begin falling from the sky onto the tarmac outside. Something’s wrong, Reese feels it. Then news stations start reporting plane crashes all over the country. Birds are downing aircraft. The president cancels all air traffic and Reese, David and their teacher are trapped—along with everyone else flying that day.

Suddenly there’s no cell phone reception either. The kids convince Mr. Chapman to rent a car and drive back home. When they stop for gas, Mr. Chapman is carjacked and shot. David starts the car and he and Reese race away from the crime scene as the gas station blows up. As the kids race through the desert, they are in a car accident.

When Reese wakes up, she doesn’t realize she’s been in a coma for twenty seven days. Where is Reese and why are the doctors keeping everything so hush-hush? David seems okay, too, but they both feel “different” somehow. After signing a non-disclosure agreement from the government, the kids agree to keep their treatment and the facility a secret and they are escorted home.

While they were in comas, the country has been put on lock-down. In many cities, rioting has occurred and the feds have enforced curfews and taken back the streets. Reese’s friend Julian has been working with a “conspiracy theory” Internet guru, and finds out about a government plot to keep the bird problem a secret. The government is hiding a lot more that a few thousand dead birds and Reese and David are right in the middle of the government’s secret program. A girl named Amber befriends Reese and soon they become much more than friends, but what is Amber’s secret? She says she’s trying to help Reese, but is she? (She immediately became suspect for me).

Reese and David notice that they’re not themselves. Their wounds heal in minutes and they are starting to understand each other’s thoughts. When Julian starts digging into Area 51 and uncovering government secrets, he unleashes a storm of publicity. Just what is going on in the Nevada desert? What happened to Reese and David?

The government conspiracy was easy to believe and even the fact that aliens had visited Earth was conceivable, but I felt the relationship between Amber and Reese was unbelievable; suddenly a girl wakes up from a coma, is greeted by government agents, is lied to, is forced to sign an agreement that places her in grave danger, and she turns around and trusts a complete stranger immediately with her secrets and her love? When Reese’s mother catches the two girls kissing, she has no reaction. Also, Reese’s mother is a lawyer with friends in high places, yet she accepts the fact that the government has had held her daughter for 27 days and returns her, yet she still has no reaction, legal or otherwise. It seemed almost as if Reese’s mother was involved in the conspiracy.

Recommended grade 8-up. Girl on girl kissing. Reese questions whether or not she is gay, but realizes she likes David, too. She has a discussion with Julian about whether she might be bisexual. The Amber/Reese relationship does not go any place and it’s over before it begins. Since there are gay characters in most prime time network television shows, students will likely look past her brief “like” with Amber. No language. Some violence.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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