Mila 2.0, the debut novel of Debra Driza, is a sci-fi thriller in the style of The Bourne Identity. Mila is a teenage girl who inadvertently learns she is not who she thought she was. She’s an android, an experiment in artificial intelligence. She made her way out of the lab when her “mother”, the scientist who helped create her, ran off with her after learning Mila was exhibiting human emotions. Government operatives as well as rogue forces with their own wicked agenda are determined to capture her. Mila and her mother are on the run.
The story is of the moment in this age of ever growing technological advancement. Mila 2.0 manages to stand out with a fresh premise in an ever-crowded young adult field.
The novel starts slowly and somewhat mysteriously as Mila tries to grasp fleeting memories of her father and times past, all in the hopes of making sense of her life and her mother's rather odd sensibilities and behaviors.
The relationship with Mila and her mother is one of the main threads throughout the story. When Mila discovers her true identity, she reacts as any teenager would that feels betrayed: hostile and angry. Since the story takes place after the woman Mila only knows as Mom runs away with Mila from the lab, we never get the chance to see that build up of human emotion that motivates her creator-mom to kidnap her, all in the hopes of giving her a real life. I think it would have been kind of fun to see that evolution of emotion as it happens.
In fairness, adding this bit in would probably have greatly added to the page count as there are other elements the author delved into in addition to the great escape: Mila’s flawed friendships with schoolmates, as well as her burgeoning first romance. The romantic aspects are a fairly small part of the story. They're real teasers: Mila's connection to her first high school interest and one of the government operatives. As a romance junkie, I'm hoping these relationships will get a bigger play in the next book. Based on the way the novel ended, I'm sure at least one of them will play a big role.
The story escalates to an edge-of-your seat adventure as Mila and her mother try to evade being caught. An essential element that the readers are privy to is Mila’s struggle to reconcile what she is with who she wants to be and how the two merge.
Ms. Driza writes a novel full of drama, excitement and sadness. It is a smooth and successful story arc that leaves the reader awaiting the next installment.
I've heard this story has been picked up as a TV show. I can certainly see the appeal. It reminds me of the old David Jansen show, The Fugitive, I watched as a kid.