by Malinda Lo
Ages 15 up
Due out September 18
Reviewed by: Melissa
This is one of those books that is not well served by its cover art. Pretty girl with only her face above water, with a double reflection of herself...could be a Sarah Dessen novel. Could be romance. Could be fantasy. Could be almost anything--but sure doesn't look like a straightforward science fiction story! Oh, there is romance and plenty of it in Malinda Lo's new book, but this is sci fi to its core. I guess the publishers wanted to avoid the cliches of aliens and spaceships, and I can see that--they may draw more people in this way. Hopefully, once drawn in, those people won't be disappointed. I wasn't...but I love science fiction!
S U M M A R Y :
Reese (short for Clarice) and David are partners on the debate team. They have won a lot of local prizes and have just gone from San Francisco to Phoenix with their debate coach to compete on the national level. They kicked A in the semi-finals of the tournament, but then had an awkward, almost-intimate moment in the hallway of the hotel, and Reese was so flustered by this that she blew their chances to win. This sets up the personal.
The day they are due to fly out of Phoenix back to San Fran, a whole bunch of aviation accidents take place across the country as flocks of birds fly into and crash seven different airplanes. Deciding that sitting in an airport for a week while the Federal Aviation Administration figures out the cause of this weird anomaly and gets people flying again is not what they want to be doing, the debaters and their coach rent a car and head for the coast; but a combination of government stonewalling and conspiracy theories gone wild makes hordes of people decide to pack up and head for the hills. When the trio stop at a gas station, a wild-eyed man tries to carjack them, shooting and killing their coach, so the teens floor the accelerator and take off across the Arizona desert. Somewhere near Area 51, though, while Reese is driving in the middle of the night, a bird flies straight into the windshield, causing her to crash the car. Next thing she knows, it's almost a month later, and she has woken up in a hospital bed in some kind of government facility...
R E V I E W :
...and it goes on from there! She and David recuperate and return home, and Reese meets Amber, to whom she is irresistibly drawn; she senses men in black lurking out of the corner of her eye; she feels followed and observed; and both she and David find there's something just not right about themselves--they seem to have abilities they didn't have before, and how, exactly, did they heal so quickly and so completely from what she vaguely remembers as a really bad accident?
This is only the beginning of a fairly complex conspiracy-theory-with-aliens scenario that I found to be a breath of fresh air among current young adult novels! While there's a lot to it, it's simple compared to all the recent dystopic visions that encompass a complicated worldview in which so much has to be explained. Not much does here, because we have all known about Area 51 and government cover-ups of UFOs for decades, and can buy right into the back story and get on with the rest, which happens to be some good storytelling.
I really liked the characters in this book, and the author finds a good balance of personal angst and experience with action and plot. According to the description on Amazon, there is another book coming, but this one definitely stands alone. Although you are left wondering exactly what happens to David and Reese, it's not one of those books that makes you mad that so much was left hanging. An entertaining read! I give it a 4 out of 5. Here's a short trailer.
Malinda Lo's previous books are Ash and Huntress. About Ash, which is a retelling of Cinderella but with a faerie godfather, rather than a fairy godmother, Lo says,
(1) She does not talk to animals;
(2) she does not sing while cleaning the house;
(3) she is not a blonde;
(4) she does not fall in love with the prince!