Review: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila 2.0
Debra Driza

Katherine Tegen Books
Releases March 12, 2013
480 pages

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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.

Androids are the humanist of all the members of the robot family and the one most likely to twist my brain into a mush trying to comprehend a machine thinking it’s human. Mila 2.0 did a really good job of convincing me that the android character of Mila had absolutely no idea that she was made of computer components. Once she did find out, her own brain was as twisted as my own had become.

Mila 2.0 starts out with a normal girl recently moved into small town middle-of-nowhere where she doesn’t really fit in after emotionally shutting down from her father’s death. Somehow she falls under the wing of a popular mean girl who then quickly turns on her when new cute boy Hunter enters their school. This part of the book was a little too Mean Girls for me until the accident that starts to trigger Mila’s memories happened and it became less high school drama and more scifi mystery. I kept expecting Hunter to come back into the story later on and somehow tied into the larger story. It just seemed a little convenient that he suddenly arrives in small town middle-of-nowhere a few weeks after Mila, but perhaps I was trying to make this story more complicated than it was.

Because it’s not a very complicated book. Mila spends most of her time monologing  about if she’s a human or a machine while a shady government taskforce hunts her down and puts her through trials to see if she’s even worth keeping up and running or if she’s too emotional to be useful. If I were one of the scientists, I would have quickly sided with “too emotional”, but the mustache twirling bad guy, General Holland, seems to get off on torturing machine girls in hopes of making them cry. Meanwhile a crazy young sensitive scientist takes pity on Mila and befriends her, sort of.

I think that’s the part where I was lost. Lucas is described as an 18 or 19-year-old boy solely entrusted with the care and programming of the multi-billion dollar androids. Perhaps he is a super genius and he’s working off some favor that evil General Holland has done for him, but essentially running the technological division of a military contractor technology division with no adult supervision? Lost me. Yes, he’s sweet and sensitive and acts as a catalyst of a key plot point, but I had a hard time staying in the story with such a convenient and unlikely character playing an important role in the story.

But other than that, Mila 2.0 is a fun story with a lot of action and a very Bourne Identity sort of feel to it without all the nausea inducing shaky cam. The characters may not be all that deep and there are of course giant implausibilities even outside the concept of an android so human that it doesn’t even know it’s a machine, but it doesn’t matter too much. This is a fun mystery scifi story with lots of action and maybe just a little too much whiney self-analysis.

By the time it comes to a conclusion, I was kind of exhausted, as much from the crazy car chases and excitement as the high levels of emo and self-doubt that seep into every moment of Mila’s life once she knows she’s a robot. Despite that I’m really curious to see how Driza carries this story forward and how all the characters will continue to be more closely tied together. There are a lot of ways this story can go, especially with the passing mention of a third party group wanting to steal Mila for her technology and sell her off to the highest bitter acting as a shadow in the background for most of the story. As the beginning of a series, the plot and action hold this novel together, especially when Mila gets a little too whiny for my taste.

But in the end, it’s about robots and robots thinking they are human, which always melts my brain a little bit. Even emo robots are pretty cool.

 

I received a copy of this book via the Around the World ARC tours. I have since mailed it out to the next person on the tour.