09 agosto 2013

Review: Mila 2.0 (Debra Driza)

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (2013)
Format: e-book | 480 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction
Description (GR): "Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie.
She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past—that she was built in a 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.
Evading her enemies won't help Mila escape the cruel reality of what she is and cope with everything she has had to leave behind. However, what she's becoming is beyond anyone's imagination, including her own, and that just might save her life.
A compulsively readable sci-fi thriller, Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza's bold debut and the first book in an action-filled, Bourne Identity–style trilogy."
I've been meaning to write a review for this book for a while now, but sometime in the last few months I understood I had some conflicted feelings about Mila 2.0.

I didn't know what to expect of this book, although many of my friends at Goodreads did like it. The concept seemed interesting and very cinematographic in a way. But I was curious to know how the author would translate it to a book.

Overall, it was a nice read, but not developed enough for my taste (though I understand why it isn't... word count restrictions and the fact that it is a series probably).

I did like the general concept. It was interesting while not particularly original, because we've all seen movies/TV series where the android is lifelike and thinks it is a human (I can think of the movie AI, of the TV series Caprica and of Battlestar Galactica, for example). However, I've never read a book about it. I was curious to see how the author would tackle the nuances of an android that sophisticated (that it would think it was human) and the moral implications (and the human feelings on the matter) of the android's sense of self.

I think Ms Driza did a good job exploring this part. Taking into account this is a YA book and as such I didn't expect it to be very focused on Mila's inner ramblings, quiet despair or philosophical search for humanity, I thought the author still managed to portray that struggle. Mila has to fight to remain "human", she clings to her emotions and she questions the morality of her actions (which makes her, in essence, human). She also has as doubts when she uses her "android capabilities". This, to me, was the best part of the book. Mila still has her "search for humanity", but the whole book isn't about it... which is good.

However (there's always a but, unfortunately): I did think the other elements of the story (the ones that are, I suppose, designed to appeal to a younger audience) were too common in these types of books (YA Sci-fi). The world building was too run-of-mill; there was nothing distinctive about Mila's origins or purpose. I also thought the "imagery" was pretty standard (giant tube to stash/fix the robots, etc).
The whole love story felt phony and a little flat (I still think Hunter is fishy, but I guess I'll have to read book 2 to find out). This aspect was attenuated by Lucas, one of the most awesomest (I am aware this isn't a word, by the way) members of a love triangle... ever (it even made me like love triangles... but only in this book).
The villain was a bit too much of the "mustache twirling", mwahahah-ing type (pretty stereotypical, I mean) for my taste.

Overall, Mila 2.0 was an interesting read. It's definitely geared towards young adults with its high school feel, its teen romance and its... well, teens. But it also has some depth and it tackles important issues such as ethics in science, among others. The prose was simple bu fluid and contributed to a quick, almost compulsive reading (even if the first part was a bit boring, when compared to the second part). I'd recommend this book. It is certainly a solid debut and the series has the potential to turn into something really good. Also, the fact that I remember this book, a few months later tells me it was actually remarkable.

I received a digital copy of Mila 2.0 from Katherine Tegen Books through Netgalley. Thank you.

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