First in a trilogy
By Debra Driza
Available now from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
MILA 2.0 is basically two books smushed together into one. I'm hoping that the second and third books in the trilogy will provide payoff for the first part, because as is drags the book down.
When we meet Mila, she and her mother have moved to a new, more rural town in the wake of a terrible fire that killed Mila's father. They're raising horses and moving on. Mila's even made friends, thanks to overtures from popular Kaylee. Then Hunter moves to town and Mila and Kaylee begin to fight over the hot new guy. This part of MILA 2.0 feels very familiar and underdeveloped. Kaylee swings from cartoonishly cruel to caring friend. Hunter and Mila obviously have a spark, but they're separated after approximately two days of knowing each other. There's barely anything to pine after!
The book improves by leaps and bounds when Mila and her mother go on the run. The characters still tend to be thinly drawn. Her mother, Nicole, has made some tough decisions - decisions that drive MILA 2.0. Her actions say a lot about her, but she too frequently drops out of the narrative. She's reduced to a plot device. General Holland, the big bad, is evil full stop. I'm pretty sure he kicks puppies on weekends. Lucas is the most developed character, aside from Mila, and I wish he were the only love interest. It would mean there were more pages to reveal his character and deepen his relationship with Mila. As of the end, his true motivation is still unknown, to be revealed in a later book.
I think fans of light science fiction will enjoy MILA 2.0. There is some interesting meditation on humanity. The fight scenes are very cool. And I like Mila herself. I want her to escape and live a happy, human life. She's more than her parts. But I felt like Debra Driza held too much back. I have the feeling that MILA 2.0 will work much better for me once I've read the sequels. But right now there are no sequels, and the book is 480 pages. 480 pages is plenty of time to develop characters and ideas. MILA 2.0 is fun, but shallow.