Pages: 480 pages
Source: Netgalley, from HarperCollins UK
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, YA, Thriller
What it's about:
In Short: I really need to stop judging books by their first few pages.
It’s not even so much that I judged the quality of the writing. I completely misjudged the genre. I ignored most of the blurb before starting the book, because I REALLY wasn’t bothered to read through ‘as she unravels the mystery surrounding her identity’ AGAIN. Which meant that I missed this: (either the basic premise of the story or the biggest spoiler you have ever seen, I don’t know – it is in the blurb) Mila is an android. Mobile Intel Lifelike Android. MILA.
So for me, not knowing the android bit, even though it’s stated plainly in the blurb, the foreshadowing and hinting at her nature was really good, and not too in-your-face either. We get clues about heightened hearing, missing memories and heightened strength, as well as the wariness of her mother, until one day she’s with two friends and something happens which removes all doubt for the reader and means Mila is forced to learn about what she’s really like – from information coldly dispensed, pre-recorded, from an iPod – in the form of a brochure, about her. And she reacts satisfyingly for once! She also experiences that peculiar sensation wherein once you discover something, everything reminds you of it and so many things are made clearer. And throughout the book, although she stubbornly refused it for a while, she begins to accept her design and eventually uses it as the advantage it is. And I loved it.
There is such a huge contrast between the first few chapters of the book and the rest, which serve nicely to illustrate how much Mila’s life has been shaken up. The first part has clichéd, but enjoyable/romantic/fluffy beginnings between she and Harper, but the rest has thrilling action scenes and drama. I’m ashamed to say that I immediately assumed it was going to be some kind of high-school romance (READ THE DAMN BLURB ROSE!), but even so, it was a good one!
Even Mila’s introspective bits, which were necessary because, did I mention, she’s just found out that she’s a freaking android, were concise and managed to fit in well with the plot of the book. Her natural, unbeknownst to her, fighting skills were VERY entertaining to read about, because who doesn’t love a well-written fight with a teenage heroine? Also, we find out that her memory loss, which she had presumed was because of trauma following the ‘death’ of her nonexistent biological father (dum de dum android), are because she really only has been alive for a few months, and she was ‘born’ sixteen.
The meeting with Mila 3.0 was one of my favourite parts. Mila 3.0 is just an updated version of Mila 2.0, the protagonist, but without – many – feelings. Mila 1.0 was destroyed because she had too many, and too many pain receptors, which caused her to fail the torture test (they’re government-created spies), thus providing a potential risk for US security. I loved this because it was a real psychological blow to Mila (2.0), teaching her that she really was just a manufactured machine. However, through the book she does change slightly, which her mother tells her is a point of hope, because if she can change and grow emotionally she is a person.
The last challenge provided to Mila by Holland (oh how I’d like to punch him) was brilliant reading. Never mind how psychologically cruel and difficult it was to Mila. She was pitted against the updated, more skilled version of herself and forced to try to win for the person who matters most in the world to her. What more could a reader ask for? I also loved this part because it reminded me of the arena in the Hunger Games, in that it was really well described and I could visualise it clearly.
There were a few parts that lowered my rating a star. The first was that her ‘mother’, who went everywhere with her and really provided little help, was SUCH a liability! I was probably supposed to like her as a person but I was just frustrated at her because she’s just going to be an impediment to Mila’s awesome android skills sooner or later. Seriously, she is nearly destroyed/made torture/ bad things just because she insists on running back to some who she isn’t even related to. I shouldn’t be so cold-hearted maybe, but in this book I was. Having said that, there was a decently sad Prim/Dobby moment, if you know what I’m talking about, at the end. Can I just say, Prim’s death – WHY? The whole reason the story exists is because Katniss tried to save her sister! She can’t just – GAH!
Also, the way the set-up for the sequel was done wasn’t exactly inspiring. And the ending – they just had to throw Hunter in at the end, when he’d had absolutely no involvement for half the story, didn’t they? But again, it was quite cute and the set-up did serve its purpose. I would be very gratified if there’s a Mila 2.1 also, although I doubt it. The description promises a breathtaking cliffhanger – read Catching Fire if you want to know what a cliffhanger ACTUALLY IS.
The cover very nearly put me off the book altogether because it promised clichés and shoddy writing. Please ignore that and the publisher’s description (not the blurb) altogether, they really don’t live up to it.
I’m moving away from the science fiction with my next review, as I am currently reading a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel which I want to share my thoughts on.
And may I show off a little here? Because I really want to share this.
I’m 14, living in Ireland and I want to go to a kind of early college classes camp thing this summer which you may have heard off – CTY(I), which only accepts those who are in the top 5% in intelligence for their age group. So I did the PSAT, which is very similar to the SAT. And I got my results back the other day, and guess what!
In Writing, I scored higher than 98% of SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS (high school juniors are generally seventeen, I think?)
In Critical Reading, I scored higher than 96% of SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS.
In Maths I scored higher than 77% of SEVENTEEN YEAR OLDS
I think that’s pretty good for a fourteen year old! So that definitely qualifies as higher than 95% of 14-year olds in everything. And I did it without study.I’m sorry, I just had to share that news.