Tuesday Reads: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Democracy, at its root, is based on the faith that our representatives have our best interests at heart. If we as a nation no longer believe that they do, that may be even more disturbing than the idea that aliens are among us.

I’m really into disaster scenarios. Bonus points if they’re kind of weird, and big bonus points if we then get to see normal people pushed entirely out of not only their comfort zones but just their entire realm of experience. That’s what happens to Reese and David, two of our main characters in Adaptation by Malinda Lo. I was sold on this book from the first paragraph of the Amazon summary:

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.

AdaptationARC_cover_webReese and David are two of those stranded travelers. They’re in Arizona, and they’re forced to drive home to San Francisco. But on a deserted highway, a bird flies straight into their headlights. They swerve, flip over, crash. They wake up in a military hospital, miraculously healed, and they’re…different. They can’t exactly understand what’s different, but something is off.

They eventually get home to San Francisco, and return to their lives. Reese meets Amber, this beautiful, interesting girl that flirts with her and makes her feel wonderful.

But of course, it can’t all be sunshine and roses. Reese continues to monitor her rapid healing. She can’t shake the feeling that someone is following her. Her best friend talks about government conspiracies and aliens – and Reese starts to think that maybe that’s not as crazy as it sounds. Maybe he’s onto something.

I’ll admit – I’m not super into the alien government conspiracies, but Adaptation kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed it. The aliens weren’t entirely my style, either, but I like the classic scifi feel to both them and their ship (but I won’t spoil all that).

Adaptation is also an awesome example of diversity in YA (which I’ve talked about before) and which makes sense, considering that Malinda Lo’s other books (Ash and Huntress) feature queer and POC characters and, oh yeah, she’s one of the founders of Diversity in YA.

While this whole crazy conspiracy plot is going on, Reese is struggling a bit. She has this huge crush on David, but then she meets Amber and wow kissing her is pretty great. The truly great part here isn’t that she’s kissing a girl – it’s that she has feelings for and chemistry with both a guy and a girl.

Here’s the thing. Erasure of bisexuals is pretty big in popular media. “Oh, he can’t like that girl, he has a boyfriend. She can’t like that girl, she has a boyfriend.” People are either gay or straight. When there is a bisexual character, they’re generally portrayed as being slutty (which we’re also told is bad) or indecisive. Just this past week, Glee’s awesome lesbian Santana complained that she only ever dates experimental college girls and bisexuals (both groups, of course, will always leave her for a guy), and that dating a Real Lesbian was intimidating. Said Real Lesbian told Santana that she deserves a “full Sapphic goddess”.

Because bisexuals just don’t count, right?

Of course, the sad thing is that these are just backing up real opinions that people have about bisexuals.

When it comes down to it in Adaptation, it’s not that Reese is struggling to figure out if she’s gay or straight. Yeah, she gets confused a bit because she’s only ever thought she’s straight, but in the end that’s not what matters. What matters is that she has feelings for both David and Amber, and there’s a whole lot of drama with both of them. She’s not choosing between gay or straight. She’s choosing between two people that she cares about.

Normalized bisexual representation and a giant government conspiracy? I don’t know about you, but count me in for the rest of this series.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 4/5

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