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[personal profile] starlady
This book review is part of the A More Diverse Universe BlogTour. You can see the full schedule here.

A More Diverse Universe: Celebrating People of Color Speculative Fiction Authors

Lo, Malinda. Adaptation. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.

Disclaimer: the author is a friend of mine.

I won an ARC of this book at Mythcon 43 by virtue of the fact that I knew that Mulder's sister was named Samantha, which is perhaps all the comment I need make on Mythcon 43. I've really enjoyed Lo's previous books, and though this one is a decided change of pace in several ways, I loved it too.

Adaptation is set in the near-future United States, San Francisco to be precise; rising senior Reese and her debate partner David are prevented from flying back home by a series of bird strikes causing plane crashes across the continent. Driving a rental car home through Nevada, they encounter a bird strike themselves, and after they wake up in a military hospital and finally get home to San Francisco, it quickly becomes clear that everything has, somehow, changed.

It was highly difficult to put this book down - Malinda talked at Mythcon about how she was inspired by her love of The X-Files, among other things, and how it was easier to write contemporary than pseudo-medieval fantasy dialogue, and it turns out that she's pretty handy with witty verbiage. I also really liked Reese; I sympathized a lot with her dilemmas, both practical and romantic, and the other characters are also very nicely drawn. Although Reese isn't herself a person of color, plenty of her friends including David are, and one of the things I really enjoyed, now that I live here, is how Lo brought out the reality of San Francisco and its diversity without being didactic about it. Without being spoilery about it, there are also several queer characters, and I particularly appreciated the way several characters' bisexuality is handled - realistically, and with acceptance from other characters rather than more stereotypical, skeptical attitudes. Lo's love for the city and its inhabitants shines through alongside the menace of the men in black.

Oh, are there a lot of men in black in this book. There's also a love triangle, conspiracy theories, and some plausibly creepy biological horror - the book opens with a quotation from Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and that's all I'll say on this point outside of a spoiler cut. Suffice it to say that this book is smart, sexy, and un-put-down-able, and I can't wait for the sequel (next year, sadly!).

I liked Amber, as a character and as a semi-antagonist, but what really gets me is (say it with me, Captain Kirk) - what does God want with a starship? Or, in this instance, why are Amber's people spending all this time and resources trying to transfer their biotech to humanity? What's in it for them? Although, as I said, I sympathized with Amber to some extent, in the end it seems like there's way too much that she still isn't saying.
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