‘MILA 2.0’ by Debra Driza is an exciting YA science fiction novel with an android protagonist. Mila has just moved out west with her mom after the death of her father. But when a car accident injures her arm, it exposes the network of wires — and secrets — beneath.
Soon the government is after Mila and her “mother,” and they must go on the run again. According to the CIA, MILA 2.0 was a failed project that must be terminated because “it” shows too much human emotion. Another shady group is chasing her as well, intent on capturing Mila and selling her technology to the highest bidder. While she is forced to rely on her android nature to survive, Mila clings desperately to the relationships that make her human.
‘MILA 2.0’ gets off to a fairly slow start, but it’s crucial that readers get to know Mila as an ordinary girl first because that is how she thinks of herself. As far as main characters go, Mila is introverted and thoughtful. There’s some of the typical “shy girl moves to a new school” setup, but because Mila is grieving for her father, her quiet nature seems more genuine and less a symptom of special snowflake protagonist syndrome. There are subtle hints that Mila is not what she seems, but the beginning of the novel might fool you into thinking that ‘MILA 2.0’ was a teen romance novel. Mila certainly thinks that her life is heading in the high school romance direction — so it’s even more of a shock when she discovers her true nature.
Mila tries to fight her android side, and holds tightly to the two important people in her life as proof that she is “real.” Her relationship with her boyfriend is sweet, but not nearly as important as her relationship with her mom. ‘MILA 2.0’ has one of the strongest mother-daughter stories you’ll find in YA fiction. It is realistically drawn despite the science fiction elements, and it is central to the novel. Nicole is not Mila’s “real” mom biologically, but she is Mila’s real mother in every other sense of the word.
‘MILA 2.0’ has a lot of intense action, chase and fight scenes. With its likeable protagonist, action-oriented plot, and CIA conspiracy, it’s one of those books that would probably make a great movie. ‘MILA 2.0’ is more of a Jason Bourne-esque spy thriller than a science fiction novel. The science in this YA science fiction novel is “soft” and takes a backseat to the fiction. As for the writing, some phrases are occasionally awkward or clumsy but overall the style is engaging and the writing is good.
If you’re looking for an action-packed YA spy thriller or science fiction novel, ‘MILA 2.0’ is the book for you.