By Malinda Lo
Publication date: Sept. 18, 2012
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 400 pages
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
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.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
— Goodreads.com description
I have mixed feelings about this one.
On one hand, I’m such a sucker for a book that starts off in the real world and quietly spins out of control into a no-rules, no-limitations, scary-as-heck society. Apocalypse books, I’m telling you, they get me every time!
And the writing was very well done and engaging, super fast-paced.
But, then the book changed direction, and focused on Reese’s questions about her sexuality, as she simultaneously feels connected to her long-term male crush and drawn to a new girl she’s just met. I think this subject matter is very important for teens, and LGBTQ books like this need to exist. I’m just not sure I love how it was handled.
David, her crush, was underdeveloped and sort of pushed aside at this point. It was a bit jilting, considering how much time we’d already spent with him as readers. That jilted feeling continued as the book turned sci-fi. I don’t want to spoil anyone, so I’m going to be purposefully vague, but the revelation about Reese’s female crush seemed to devalue so much of Reese’s growth with her sexuality that I worried about the message it would send to young teen readers.
So, I guess, I don’t know how I feel. I liked the story, I liked the writing and I LOVE that Lo continually includes LGBTQ scenarios in her work. We need to see this MUCH more often. I’m just not sure I loved how the message was handled and how it was all blended together.