by Debra Driza
To be published by Katherine Tegen Books
on March 12, 2013
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. Please see my FTC disclosure to the right on the sidebar.
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Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do. Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.
My take: Like its composite namesake -- I'm a real girl! No, wait, I'm an android! -- MILA 2.0 is an entertaining hybrid of a book, a futuristic story that time-warped me right back to the awesome 1980s.
The opening chapters follow well-tred paranormal romance territory: Mila has vague memories of the tragic fire that killed her father and a mother who seems more interested in the injured horses she cares for than her own daughter. At school, Mila is friends with the über-annoying Kaylee. Enter Hunter, a gorgeous shaggy-haired new kid from San Diego, and both girls are smitten. But Hunter really likes Mila, despite the fact that she dresses in flannel shirts and broods a lot.
Then, in the course of a drag racing scene straight out of Footloose (the 1984 version, obviously)…
… Mila is injured and learns that her name isn't the nickname she'd thought, but an acronym: "Mobile Intel Lifelike Android." (That's not a spoiler; the information is right in the book's blurb, so though it is a huge shock to Mila, the reader has the information going in.)
That revelation took me back to poor Rachael in Blade Runner (1982). You know, that scene when Harrison Ford has to tell her that she's an android? Here she is, looking at her (fake) family photos, realizing that her entire life was a LIE...
I also felt bad for Mila, mostly because her mother is such a cold fish. Mila: "Mom, why don't you love me?" Mom: "Um, I'm not really your mom. And you're not really a person. But do I love you more than the vacuum cleaner." Okay, they don't really say that. Her mom says:
I need you to know that I really do care. In fact, I believe now, more than ever, that you're worth all the risks.
Not exactly what Mila wanted to hear. But a lot of YA characters have crappy parents, and I kept wishing Mila would just embrace her android nature and start being kick-ass. In the book's second half, Mila does just that. The book spins into sci-fi slash action movie territory. Mila starts having strange flashbacks about taking targets down. She learns why her mom is so paranoid about keeping her secret. The pace picks up, and a lot more cool acronyms come into play. A new boy and some villains show up. Though the book tries to allow Mila to continue her existential crisis about not being human, there's really no time for that. The rest of the book filled with chase scenes and fight scenes, a new android that Mila has to fight, and a fear landscape.
MILA 2.0 definitely has a fun and intriguing concept, and I wasn't surprised to read that the book is being developed -- by Grey's Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes -- as a possible TV show. I'm curious to see how the book will be adapted, and wondering if they'll leave the main character as a teenager, or age her up to broaden the potential audience.