Release Date: March 12, 2013
(Thank you to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Katherine Tegen
Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.
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.
Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.
There are some books that utterly break my ten likes/dislikes review format. This is one of them. And this is going to be a tricky review to write because the Bourne movies are among my favorites. I'm not 100% sure why they are (see: Kristin Cashore's post on the same subject), but when I saw Bourne Identity-style trilogy, I knew I wanted to read this one. And that probably led to some really high, hard-to-meet expectations on my part.
Biggest issue? For a good portion of the book, I kept thinking to myself: this doesn't really add anything new to the mix. Okay, so instead of the genetically modified superhero, you have the kick-ass android who wants to be human. Except she's kind of like Evie from Paranormalcy, and she keeps thinking that being normal is the best thing ever, and the book goes on about her struggling to keep that "humanity," but Mila whines about it too often, and I've read more compelling cases on "what it really means to be human." Given the length of the book, some of that "struggle" could have been cut, so more time could be spent developing character relationships etc. Now the android functions? Those were cool. Those were a great addition to these kind of thrillers. More of that, less of the internal monologue, please.
Second biggest issue? I was bored for about the first 200 pages and was forcing myself to read the book. Okay, Mila's grieving! Okay, Mila's going to school! Okay, Mila and Kaylee are fighting over Hunter, the new boy in town! Uh, you said this was a thriller, right? Why isn't anything happening? Then something does happen, but I was still not feeling it, because it was just so predictable. Honestly, I think it would have been more interesting if we got to see Mila before she was taken from the lab instead of having all this stuff on her going to high school and fighting with Kaylee over Hunter (cliche! mean girl cliche too! Mila being a pushover). But that's not how the story functions, so it probably would have been harder to include (though Driza does manage this a little).
Third biggest issue? The character relationships, especially the one with her mother. I did not care about a majority of the characters and actually stopped caring about Mila at some point (because of the android/human issue). The characters were not as well developed as I had hoped. Plus, what drives the novel, toward the end, is Mila's love for her mother; it becomes the reason why Mila must cooperate. But I never really believed in that love. Their relationship is so shaky. From the start, all you have are scenes where Mila's mother is pulling away from Mila--Mila believes this is because of her father's death--and nothing real to set the foundation for their love. Her "mom" betrays her in many ways, is not actually her mom, and has not lived with her for a substantial amount of time, and you want me to believe that Mila is so attached to her mother that she will do anything for her? Meh.
Fourth biggest issue? The romance. I just wasn't feeling their connection--either connection really, 'cause it looks like this series is going to have a love triangle?--and Mila keeps thinking about Hunter at random points in the novel. Hunter, who she hardly knew and who should not be taking such a disproportionate amount of time in her thoughts. I understand that Hunter and life in her town was meant to be a representation of the "normal life" she wants but still... I am a romance junkie, rarely ever read books without some sort of romance, and I actually thought that this book was brought down by the romance.
Fifth biggest issue? Mila can outpower the villain--easily. REALLY easily. Her kryptonite, so to speak, is not anything physical in her, though; it's her ability to form an emotional connection to her mother. I understand fundamentally that the government is powerful, but this book doesn't have the Big Brother feel of dystopias as in The Hunger Games, so you're left relying on the fact that the villain should not be so easily defeated. But Mila kicks the crap out of everyone. If you ask me, every superhero needs something innate that brings him down (i.e. think Bourne Legacy, how Aaron Cross is without his pills; there's that plus his relationship to the doctor). Mila's fault is valuing her emotions, but we're left believing that actually strengthens her. Seemed too Mary Sue like and too easy to shrug off the danger. Went too far past that line of giving Mila strength while creating a believable villain.
As you can see, I had a lot of issues with this book. Despite all of that, I think that this one is going to be a big hit. The action scenes are wonderfully written, and people who like the Bourne movies for those scenes? Well, yeah, there's a car chase, an airport chase, and some tests done on Mila to see her android capabilities. Those tests actually reminded me a bit of Divergent, which is not all that surprising since they have the same publisher. I thought that those times were when the book really got interesting. The android tests, the android capabilities--those were all unpredictable and thrilling, and those are the elements that I'm sure will hook many fans. Although I did not enjoy this one as much as I had hoped, I think that Debra Driza has great potential, and that others will read this with lower expectations than I did and enjoy it much more fully. I don't think that I personally will be continuing with this series, but fans of the action in Divergent may enjoy this sci-fi thriller.
If you are interested in the novel, I suggest reading Mila 2.0: Origins, which is a prequel of sorts, showcases Driza's writing, and features the first six chapters of Mila 2.0.
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