Mila 2.0 (Mila 2.0 #1) by Debra Driza
Review Source: eARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
I had heard such great things about Mila 2.0. Haven't you? So when I started to get bored and then annoyed with the book, I felt really bad. I knew I would be an outcast if I didn't like this book. So I kept reading. There had to be something in this book that was causing lots of bloggers I follow to be giving it five stars, right? So I kept reading. I got pretty bogged down with it during the first half. I felt like it was lasting forever. But I kept at it. I wanted, no needed, to find out what was going on with all of those stellar reviews and why I wasn't getting it. So I kept reading. And finally, finally, it started to pick up. And then I finished the book, after spending a week on it. In the end, I liked some of the book and didn't like other parts. And that will get this book three stars from me.
When Mila 2.0 started, I was actually pulled in pretty quickly. We learn that Mila has just moved to her small town in Minnesota after her dad died in a fire. We also learn that she can't remember whether or not she was there with him in the fire that killed him. Her mom is super protective of her and also a bit standoffish since the incident, but Mila doesn't understand why. Mila is working on making friends and hangs out with a girl named Kaylee and her group. Then a new boy named Hunter moves to town and all the girls go crazy for him. Mila holds back but is put in situations where she and Hunter are together. When they talk, Mila feels like someone finally understands her. But Kaylee goes a little crazy when she thinks Mila and Hunter are getting too close. In the end, none of this really matters. Mila soon discovers that she is actually an android, not a human teenage girl. But while she's dealing with her very real human emotions, she must go on the run. People have discovered where she is and if she wants to stay alive, or whatever she is, she must not be caught.
It sounds fun and exciting and suspenseful and all kinds of things. But for some of the book it just wasn't. If the book had consisted solely of the first part in her small town and then the last part in the other location that I don't want to spoil, it would have been great. It would have had a great setup and plenty of action without too much whining and wandering and meaningless interactions with random people and a weird obsession with a boy she hardly knew. But the book was almost 500 pages and it felt like almost 500 pages.
I also wasn't a huge fan of any of the characters. Mila was much better in the second half, but in the first part she was very whiny. I get being emotional over the death of her dad, but it was the constant whining about wanting to be human versus a machine that got to me. And her whining over having to give up Hunter and her continual return to him at completely random moments. Also, her mom was a little all over the place for me. I couldn't pin her down. Was she an unemotional scientist trying to save Mila from the people she ran away from in the first place or is she a mom who cares about Mila because she is more human than even she had originally thought she could be? I understand being both, but being inside Mila's head, we only know what she thinks. And I didn't feel like I ever got a clear read of her mom and it annoyed me. It also made it hard for me to emotionally connect with them.
Even with these problems, there were parts of the book I liked. I enjoyed the part of the book at the second location and the interactions that occurred there. That section of the book was much more suspenseful and intense and even a little bit crazy. It's the part of the book that I hope is expanded on in the sequel. I want to know more about that group and the individuals involved with it as well as their overall goals concerning Mila. This part of the book brought up my rating, so if you're reading the book and you get to somewhere between 30%-60% and you aren't enjoying, just give it a little bit more time and see if it turns around at all. I think you'll enjoy the rest of the book more.
Final Thoughts: I know this review was somewhat negative and I'm sorry for that. I really did want to love this book. But I just didn't. The parts that I did like just couldn't completely make up for the parts I didn't. I did read the second half of the book much faster than the first part. So keep at it if you're stuck or feel like you want to give up. It's a long book, and it feels like it. But you might just be glad you stuck with it. I won't claim that this book is anything spectacular, because for me it just wasn't, but I'm still glad I read it. Mostly I just wanted to be grabbed by the story and not want to stop reading it, but that didn't happen. There is also a cliffhanger, not a crazy one, but if that isn't your thing, then consider yourself warned. I gave Mila 2.0 three stars and felt a little disappointed that I wasn't completely sucked into the story like I wanted to be.
Summary (from Goodreads): Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.
But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.
This review is going to be shorter and a little less structured than my others reviews tend to be. It turns out, I just don't have that much to say about this one. I've been wanting to read it for a while now and I was excited when I got the chance to trade for a copy. Then I read it as soon as I could. It was a quick read, but not great. It was pretty much just okay. Nothing exceptional, nothing entirely unique or enthralling, no particularly stand-out characters. Everything was just okay.
One of the things I was most excited about this book was the heroine. I felt like Evie was set up to be one super kick-ass heroine, but it turned out that she seemed kind of whiny and very teenager-y. I know that isn't a word, but that's how she seemed to me. She was annoying, she complained, she ran from her problems, and she didn't do very much ass kicking. I just ended up feeling disappointed by her and wanted more from her. Maybe she grows a bit more in the second and third books in the series, but I'm not sure I'll be around to see it.
Another part of the book that didn't quite live up to my expectations was the writing. Right off the bat it felt young and a bit unrefined. There didn't seem to be much suspense or build-up to the action, I didn't feel a lot of the emotions that I know the author wanted us to feel, I wasn't very attached to the characters, and there were fake swear words. I think you guys know how I feel about those but if you don't let me tell you: I HATE fake swear words! If there is a moment where a character wants to swear then make them swear. Or just leave that out. Please, please, I'm begging all of you, don't say 'bleep' or any other stand in when you really mean 'shit' or any other swear word. If you're doing it to make the book appropriate for younger kids, then either leave it out all together or realize that they probably are already saying swear words anyway. I understand that in this particular book there is an actual explanation for the use of the word 'bleep' in place of swear words, but it still felt annoying and disruptive. But enough of that, I just mean to say that the writing didn't win me over and I feel like it could have been a bit more polished.
I know at this point it sounds like I hated the book but in all honestly I didn't. I certainly didn't love the book, but it did keep me reading. I liked that the book had many paranormal creatures, even if it did keep them all segregated. I liked the character Lend and thought he was actually pretty fascinating. The action and intrigue kicked up a bit in the middle and several of the secondary characters became pretty interesting. But it is still one of those books for me that is hard to review and hard to recommend because it was all just okay. There are plenty of other more compelling paranormal series out there that I'd be much more likely to recommend. I'm not sure I'm going to spend my time on the second book in this series so why would I tell someone else to spend their time on this one? I don't know. Still, it was a fine book. There are many other people out there who love this series. So it's just one you'll have to decide for yourself about. In the end, it was just okay for me. I gave it three stars.
Pure (Covenant #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Summary (from Goodreads): There is need. And then there is Fate.
Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.
When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude or killing her.
When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.
Ok, I feel like there's something wrong with me. I definitely wasn't as taken with this book as pretty much everyone else who has read it seems to be. It was difficult even for me to get through at times. I'm assuming that it's me and not the book, since my feelings are so different from many others, but I'm going to share my thoughts on the book anyway because that's what I do. So here are my reasons for the less than five star rating. *If you haven't read Half-Blood, there are some spoilers for it in this review.*
My Dislikes: It just took me a long time to get through this book and it honestly felt like that's what I was doing at certain points, getting through it. I wasn't as invested in Alex's future in this one, was a little annoyed about the whole love-triangle thing, and was kind of annoyed with the characters. It just felt a bit repetitive and stuck at points. I didn't want to hear, again, how Alex was irrational, disrespectful, and unlucky. I get that her main characteristic is that she acts before she thinks, but it gets a bit old as an excuse for her behavior.
I also wasn't all that excited about the new setting. They were there for the Council, but there were only two scenes that actually took place inside at a meeting. They were intense scenes, definitely. But the rest of the setting really did nothing for me.
I didn't like the characters as much in this one either. I don't like Seth. I'm not sure if I ever will. I just don't trust him and his feelings for Alex. I think he's purely selfish and all of his actions are based on how her feelings and reactions make him feel through their connection. I'm not sure how he'll be able to earn my trust or if he even should, but I just don't like him. So the fact that he was in so much of the book definitely contributed to my overall feelings. And Aiden was actually annoying me a little bit too. He's made his feelings towards Alex clear and the Blood Order prevents anything happening between them, so he needs to just leave her alone. Stop making sneaky comments about how you feel and stop being jealous, just let her go or be honest with her and yourself. If you say you can't be with her, you can't be mad if she's with someone else. It drove me crazy!
My Likes: I will say this, Jennifer L. Armentrout sure knows how to write a villain! There are some creepy dudes in her books. I'm not entirely sure yet who the biggest villain is in the Covenant series, I do have some ideas, but I'm sure when we find out, it'll be epic. And that is perhaps another reason why Pure didn't get a better rating for me (though don't forget that a three still means that I liked it). I have pretty high standards for Jennifer now. After the Lux series, she's got a lot to live up to! And I'm looking forward to more of her books!
Overall Feelings: Pure, for me, was my least favorite Armentrout book so far. I don't know why it didn't grab me like the others have, but it just didn't. My favorite characters felt a little stale and I was stuck with a few that I just didn't like. I missed the school, as well as a favorite character from that setting. (I'm still a bit emotional about that scene!) But I'm looking forward now to Deity. Jennifer is a great story teller and I can't wait to see what she's got going on next for Alex. And that's why I'll keep reading the series. Because Jennifer is a great writer. Even though I felt like Pure suffered a bit from the second book syndrome, I will continue to read the series. Based on Half-Blood and the Lux series and the reviews I've been hearing about Deity, I know there are books out there from her that I'll like more than this one. I wish it had been Pure, but it wasn't. I gave Pure three stars.
Katya's World (Katya Kuriakova #1) by Jonathan L. Howard
Summary (from Goodreads): The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent.
Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career.
There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.
Katya's World was one of those books that after reading it didn't quite match up with what I thought it would be before reading it. The summary felt a bit dystopian but the book felt super sci-fi to me. It is set on a different planet that is completely covered in water. Citizens have had to create their own living spaces under water. And for years they have survived on their own, separated from Earth. Eventually, Earth attacked Russalka and a war broke out. After both sides had almost exhausted their resources, Earth retreats. Russalka thinks the war is over. But they may have just been fighting a battle and there may still be some fight left from Earth. We follow Katya as she discovers the truth about her people, Earth, their joined history, and their future. Throughout the book there are many surprises, tons of talk of technology and mechanics and submarines and satellites, and zero romance. They all add up to a fine book, but in the end it was just different than I had expected.
My Likes: I actually really liked the originality of the story. For me, at least, it was unique and that kept me on my toes and reading. If it had been at all predictable for me, I probably would have stopped reading. It was so different than what I had thought it would be from the premise that I was never completely hooked. I just wanted to know how it ended, I couldn't give up on the characters.
I liked that there was no romance in this book. Sometimes there can be a bit of romance overload in books like these and it was a nice change to focus solely on the story and this new world full of different technologies and struggles from our own. You might want to steer clear if you like romance to be one of the driving factors in books you like, this one will not be for you.
I also enjoyed watching Katya realize that the beliefs she'd grown up with about Earth and its people may not, in fact ,match up to the reality. We all grow up being influenced by the beliefs of our parents and other adults around us. But as we grow, we learn to develop our own. Our worlds are different from our parents, our lives are our own, and we must discover what we believe in and stand up for those beliefs. Katya is just starting to understand all of this in this book and I enjoyed seeing her realize that the prejudices of her parents and uncle may not prove to be fair.
My Dislikes: This book was a bit heavy on the sci-fi for me. There was constant talk of submarines and technology and mechanical equipment, I sometimes got bored and disinterested. I understand that Katya was something of a prodigy in her world and she could figure out how most systems on a submarine worked without much help. But I don't need to hear about it every single time she gets in a sub. Since they live underwater, that's a lot.
I was also a bit bummed that the premise didn't seem to match up with the book. I'm pretty sure a lot of this problem was just me and not in the way it was written. Going back over it after reading it I can see how it matches up, but it somehow gave me a different impression of the book before reading it. And it just didn't match up. Going into the book it definitely felt like a set-up for a dystopian world. But reading it felt very science-fiction. I know the lines between those genres can be a little blurry sometimes, but my idea of the book and the reality just didn't quite line up.
Overall Feelings: I liked this book, but in the end I just didn't love it. I enjoyed the characters, especially Katya, the originality of the story, and the journey that Katya begins as she graduates from student toadult. She begins to think for herself and shows that she can be strong in a world that seems to be pretty dominated by men. I liked the twists and turns, that we got a little break from romance, and the appearance of pirates. But I did not like the fact that the science-fiction element was very prominent when it appeared to be more dystopian from the summary. For bigger fans of sci-fi I think it'll be a great read, but I got a bit bogged down in all the technology talk. I did enjoy the book, but it will never be a favorite of mine. I give Katya's World three stars.
Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Summary (from Goodreads): By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I'm going to break them in to the parts I liked and the parts I didn't. I think that will help me sort through my feelings. I do know that I wasn't a huge fan of the book, but I will continue to read. Here are my reasons.
My Likes: My biggest draw for this book, what really kept me reading, was the characters. I really liked Rhine. I liked learning about her, watching her deal with her new life, and seeing her become attached to those around her. I liked the way she took care of her sister wives and became their friends even though she didn't want to be with Linden. I liked the way she treated the mansion staff even though she could have taken full advantage of her new life and privileges. And I liked that no matter what she was offered, she never forgot her brother or the promises she had made.
Besides Rhine, I also liked many of the other characters including Gabriel, Jenna, Rose, and, though we only meet him through Rhine's memories, Rowan. I love how the characters interacted through the book and I hope many of them will develop and grow as the story progresses.
My Dislikes: Just about everything else. That may be a bit strong, especially since I plan to continue the series. I just wasn't a fan of many aspects of the book. First of all, the world in which the characters live is one of the most difficult worlds to imagine that I've ever read. I don't believe in a world where America is the only country that has survived World War 3. And not just its people, but all the other countries have literally been suck into the ocean.I just don't buy it. I also have a hard time believing in a disease that kills men exactly at 25 and women exactly at 20. And what's with the age difference there?
Getting past those, I hated reading about a relationship between a 21-year-old male and a 13-year-old female. I liked everything else about Linden. He seemed like a nice guy, took care of his wives, loved Rose very much. But he married a 13-year-old. And they become parents together. In their world it is common, since women only have until they are 20, but I had a really hard time getting past it. And when Cecily is acting like a child 75% of the time and talking about having sex and giving birth the rest of the time, it's strange to say the least. Call me a prude, but it felt weird to read about.
Overall Feelings: Here's the thing with this book, I wasn't a huge fan but I'll be reading the second in the series for sure. You won't see me spending any more money on them, but I'll still be checking them out. I didn't like this science-fiction world nor am I a fan of how young Cecily is, but the rest of the characters and my curiosity will keep me reading. Lauren DeStefano does know how to create suspense and intrigue. And I still want my answers. What's up with this virus and Housemaster Vaughn? He is super creepy. Will Linden ever learn about the things his father has done? Will Gabriel get to see the world outside of the mansion? Will Rhine ever be reunited with Rowan? I will keep reading and discover the answers to these questions, even if I'm complaining about the books along the way.
I'm not sure this review was helpful at all. With all the negativity and the promises to keep reading, even I'm still a little confused. But at least it's out there now and not in my head. Wither gets three stars from me, it was okay. What about you? Have you read it? What'd you think? If you haven't, do you think you will?