MILA 2.0

If you enjoy books like I Am Number Four, Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, or even Cinder by Marissa Meyer, MILA 2.0 might be the book for you.

This first book in Debra Driza’s thrilling series introduces readers to Mila, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just moved with her mother to Clearwater, Minnesota. A short while ago, Mila’s father was killed, but Mila has only a few, fuzzy memories of the life she once had. Despite this, Mila is trying to make a life for herself in this small town. She’s trying to make friends and fit in, especially with popular girl Kaylee, and she’s even getting to know the new guy at school, Hunter. Everything changes, though, when her friend gets reckless on the road one day, and Mila is sent flying…

The accident should have ended Mila’s life or, at the very least, caused her serious bodily harm. Instead, she barely has a scratch…except for a little problem with her arm. When Mila, Kaylee, and Hunter examine what they expect to be a horrendous wound, however, they see something that none of them expected. Wires, tubes, and a weird, milky fluid are present where there should be muscle, bone, and blood. What is going on, and what could it mean for Mila?

Mila soon discovers a horrifying truth about herself (and the reason why her “memories” are so fuzzy). Her “mom” reveals that Mila isn’t exactly human. She’s an android, created in a lab to be used for military defense. When Mila’s mom, or co-creator, realized just how human Mila was becoming, she stole Mila, a billion dollor government investment, and went on the run. She wiped Mila’s memories of her time in a military compound and implanted new memories of a life growing up as a normal girl. If that’s the truth, though, why is Mila having disturbing flashbacks of white walls, experiments, and torture? Just what was done to her before the grand escape, and what will the powers that created her do to get her back?

Mila and her mom soon figure out that someone is after them, and they’ll do anything to capture Mila, so they go on the run once again. But what will happen when their latest escape plan leads them right back into the vile clutches of those who sought them in the first place? What will become of them? Will Mila accept her android nature and turn away from everything that made her human? Will she have a choice?

When Mila comes face-to-face with her creators and their continued work, she’ll have to rely on both her machine capabilities and human emotions (which some perceive as liabilities) to avoid her termination and her mom’s elimination. Can she pass the horrific tests set before her, or is it already too late? Is anyone willing to help her, or does everyone see her as nothing more than a disposable machine, incapable of real feeling or emotion?

Well, Mila is about to show everyone just what they’ve created, and one thing is certain. Nothing will ever be the same.

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Just like The Adoration of Jenna Fox, I think MILA 2.0 could generate some interesting discussions of bioethics, technology, and how far science should go. I’m a bit of a conspiracy nut, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some government–and I’m not saying which one–was experimenting a bit with android technology or other forms of artificial intelligence. Are these things being used for defense? I don’t know (and a big part of me doesn’t want to), but I’m sure it’s being considered. What implications could this have? Just how “human” would these machines be, and what could that mean for their effectiveness? What should be considered when terminating one of these projects? It’s difficult to wrap my mind around all of it, and books like MILA 2.0 often raise questions that even I had not thought of. I’m hoping others will feel the same.

Deep, ethical questions aside, I think MILA 2.0 is a great example of science fiction for the young adult crowd. Mila is a strong character, coming to terms with her abilities and what she is. She doesn’t, however, let these new, unexpected truths define her. Sure, she’s an android, but her “humanness” is what really makes her special. She uses what others perceive as deficiencies to her advantage, and that often gives her the edge she needs. All readers can learn something from that.

In my opinion, MILA 2.0 is a great addition to middle grade and young adult collections. It’s an electrifying read that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s also, like I mentioned, the first book in a series. The second book, MILA 2.0: Renegade, is now out, and there’s also a prequel novella, The Fire, available as a free ebook download. I’ll get to these as soon as I finish up a few other obligations.

If your interest has been piqued at all, I urge you to give MILA 2.0 a try. For more information, check out the author’s webpage, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also like the trailer below from HarperTeen. (It doesn’t give much away, but it’s worth a look!) Happy reading!

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Thanks to an incovenient bout of insomnia, I’ve gotten a lot of reading done lately.  (Weirdly, nearly all of the books involve vampires.  Maybe the subject matter is keeping me from sleeping at night…or I’m turning into a vampire.  I’ll keep you posted.)  Well, my latest read is Beth Fantaskey’s Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.  As you may have surmised, this is yet another vampire tale.  Unlike some others that take a little while to get into, this one hooked me from the very first page.  I LOVED it!  There’s just so much angst in this book (and many, many allusions to classic pieces of literature…many of them also filled with angst).  It’s a really great read for literature nerds who like vampires.

Jessica Packwood lives on a small farm in rural Pennsylvania.  Her life has always been a bit drab, but things are about to change.  There’s a stranger in town who is about to turn her entire world upside down.  For Lucius Vladescu is not just any stranger; he’s a vampire prince and claims to be Jessica’s betrothed.  It should go without saying that Jessica’s a little resistant to this news.  Yes, she knows she was adopted in Romania and that her birth parents had some odd cultural beliefs, but she can’t possibly believe she’s a vampire princess and engaged to a guy she’s never met.  Can she?

Well, it turns out, all that stuff is true, and Jessica, or Antanasia as she’s known in vampire circles, must embrace her destiny to prevent war among vampire clans.  She’s just having a little trouble accepting all of this stuff.  It really doesn’t help that she’s strangely drawn to Lucius and beginning to crave blood.  And it seems the closer she gets to admitting the truth to herself, the farther Lucius slips from her.  You see, Lucius has been raised to believe he has no choice in his destiny, but his time with Jessica and other American teens has made him value the preciousness of choosing one’s own destiny.

Jessica has accepted her fate, but now Lucius is the one unwilling to unite their vampire families.  Why?  Does he really have no feelings for Jessica?  Or is there some larger, perhaps more sinister, plan at work?  What will become of Jessica and Lucius when the ruthless vampire elders decide to intervene?  Can these two crazy kids possibly work things out, or are they doomed to destroy each other?  Read Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side to find out.

Like I said before, I loved this book.  It was a fast read and kept me captivated the whole way through.  The story is continued on Beth Fantaskey’s webpage, http://www.bethfantaskey.com/, and, as soon as I can stand to sit in front of a computer that long, I plan to read it.  For now, though, I’m going to move on to Beth Fantaskey’s next novel, Jekel Loves Hyde.  Happy reading!

Suck It Up

Those of you who regularly follow Knight Reader (all both of you) know that I am a fan of both superheroes and vampires.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because reality is a real downer most of the time, and I like to escape into a world of fantasy.  Maybe it’s because I wish I were a superhero or a vampire.  I’m leaning toward the second option.  Anyway, in my latest read, Suck It Up by Brian Meehl, the main character, Morning McCobb, is a nerdy vampire obsessed with superheroes.  Except for the whole vampire thing, I can totally relate.

Morning McCobb was sixteen when he was accidentally turned into a vampire.  Imagine if you will being sixteen forever.  (Shudder.)  Now imagine being a scrawny, nerdy, sixteen-year-old vegan for the rest of eternity.  (You’ll have to read the book to understand how Morning is both a vampire and a vegan.  It’s a little too odd to get into here.)  Morning has just graduated from the Leaguer Academy, a kind of training facility for vampires.  Leaguers are members of the International Vampire League, and they want nothing more than to live openly in the world and be seen as yet another minority group with “special needs.”  Now, Morning has resigned himself to an eternity of reading comic books, watching Star Wars, and becoming a member of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion.  (Sounds pretty good to me.)  But the powers that be in the IVL have a different path in mind for Morning.  They want him to be the first vampire to “come out of the closet” and reveal himself to humans, or Lifers.

As you may imagine, Morning is a little skeptical.  He barely passed most of his classes in the Leaguer Academy.  Why in the world was he chosen as the first vampire to reveal himself?  What happens if he suddenly realizes the guy next to him would make a great snack?  And what about Morning’s dreams?  Is there any hope to make them into a reality?

These answers and more are revealed as we journey with Morning McCobb as he “comes out” to the world.  The big reveal is not without its missteps or people wanting to put a stop to it, but Morning just might discover that he’s not who he always thought himself to be.  Will he like the person he becomes, or will he become the monster he’s always feared he could be?  Read Suck It Up by Brian Meehl to find out.

While I kind of liked this book, I did think the point of view changed too much.  It was hard to tell who was speaking or narrating some of the time.  There was just too much back and forth.  Aside from that, Meehl introduced a whole new vampire mythology, and I think it’s interesting to compare it to what we think we know about vampires.

To learn more about Brian Meehl and Suck It Up, visit http://www.brianmeehl.com/.

Secret Keeper

My latest read (finished about a minute ago) is Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins.  It is about Asha, an Indian girl in a time of turmoil.  Her father has left India to try to find an engineering job in America, and she, her older sister, and her mother must go and live with her Uncle and his family in Calcutta.  It is a difficult adjustment for Asha’s family.  They don’t have the freedoms they enjoyed when living in Delhi.  But Asha strives to keep some sense of normalcy about her.  She looks forward to hearing from her father, spending time with her cousins, writing in her diary, and talking to her neighbor, Jay.

When tragedy strikes her family, though, Asha must take steps to make sure her family is secure.  She must choose between her own desires and the path that may be best for her family.  Difficult decisions are ahead for Asha.  Read Secret Keeper to discover which road she decides to travel.

While I did enjoy this book once I got into it, I preferred Padma Venkatraman’s Climbing the Stairs.  It is a similar story (set in India about thirty years earlier), and the writing is beautiful and rich.  Also, I liked the main character better than Asha in Secret Keeper.  Both characters are strong females, but I sympathized more with Vidya in Climbing the Stairs than I did with Asha in this book.