Do you ever feel angry at a book? Are you ever frustrated that reading something awesome has spoiled your enjoyment of other books, because now you hold them all that to that same high standard? Do you ever, as a budding writer, have serious moments of doubt that cause you to throw a book across the room while thinking, “I should just give up now. I’ll never be able to write this well”?
Because that is how I feel right now.
Here is the short version of my review: Read Adaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Now.
Here is the long version: Read them. Now. Following the first book’s blurb are are some reasons why.
Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are – or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction – and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
This review is spoiler-free!
First, the covers. I feel silly fangirling about the covers when the pages between them hold the really deep stuff, but THEY’RE SO COOL. I love the minimalistic-art trend currently popular for YA book covers, and I’m thrilled to see it here. Inheritance, especially, is so sleek… and BLUE… and I’m rambling now.
Secondly, Adaptation and Inheritance form a duology. Duologies are, at least in my experience, rare – trilogies are in right now. I praised duologies here as well and I will probably do so forever and ever, because I love the intensity of them. All that action and character development and all those plot twists are stuffed into only two books. Lovely.
The third reason I love these books is that they are so different from the science fiction I normally read. I suppose that Adaptation and Inheritance (they really need a series title so I don’t have to keep writing out both individual titles) could be classified as dystopian – at least, some of my fellow Goodreads users have categorized them as such – but that genre’s presence is not very strong in these stories. That’s refreshing.
True, there are issues with the government in this fictional world, but they’re overridden by something else: ALIENS. I have discovered what I missed about YA science fiction. I’d love to see more futuristic-technology-whatsits that aren’t necessarily of human origin.
Furthermore, Adaptation and Inheritance stand out in the field of YA science fiction because their protagonist is queer. Bisexual, as I hope you’ve gathered from the blurb above.
[Cue flailing, accompanied by incoherent shrieks of glee]
Before these stories, I don’t think I’d ever read any books with a bisexual main character. I’d certainly never read any LGBTQ+ science fiction, YA or otherwise. This was really different, and I loved it. If one includes aliens then it’s certainly not outlandish to include bi girls, especially since we know for sure that the latter actually exist.
Reese’s bisexuality was handled really well, too. For her, it’s not a matter of dating a boy versus dating a girl. It’s a matter of being with the person she’s known all her life versus being with the mysterious newcomer. And in the end the love triangle is subverted, anyway. But I won’t say anything more about that because spoilers, sweetie.
Plus, the books talked about coming out! And gender! And tensions within the queer community! (Mostly in the form of Reese’s gay guy friend pressuring her to come out. Not cool.) And hate crimes!
OK, so the exclamation point after “hate crimes” seems weird, but I’m not excited about them. I’m glad that the author acknowledged them, that this book dealt with some tough and not-very-nice things. Too many of the LGBTQ+ YA books I’ve read have been about, like, gay guys acting as if everything is paradise for queer people, something they do by pretending that gay guys are the only queer group.
(I suppose my frustration about this counts as a tension within the queer community, doesn’t it?)
I love these two books. They’re fast-paced, have a lovely science-y plot and several adorable romances (that subvert the YA love triangle cliché!), and feature many characters who aren’t straight.
Adaptation and Inheritance aren’t just must-reads for those who like science fiction or LGBTQ+ books. They’re must-reads for everyone.
[Throws the books at you and commands you to read them]
It’s not often that I’m THIS ENTHUSIASTIC about a book (or two) – so far this year, the only other books that made me feel this way were Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress and Malinda Lo’s first book, Ash. And if this review (and past ravings about Ash) doesn’t show that Malinda Lo is my new favorite author-discovery, then I don’t know what would. Perhaps more enthusiasm?
READ THESE BOOKS!
Rating for Adaptation: 5/5
Rating for Inheritance: 4/5