Since Phillip K. Dick asked “Do Androids dream of electric sheep” the idea that machines could possess humanity has captivated readers and movie goers for decades. One of the most enduring concepts in Sci-fi is whether the machine can evolve past its original programming and become something “more”. The most famous of all is Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Viewers fondly watched for years as he sought to “outgrow” his programming and become like his creators, to feel compassion, a Pinocchio for the 24th century. Battlestar Galactica gave us Cylons who didn’t just look human, they felt human, and they bled, cried and loved. Debra Driza attempted to do the same with Mila 2.0 and I’m happy to say she succeeded.
Mila is a 16 year old girl who’s just moved to Minnesota with her mother after a heartbreaking tragedy. The death of her father. She’s sweet, intelligent, and socially awkward at times, struggling to cope with her grief whilst relating to a new circle of friends and dealing with the tense and fraught dynamics that accompany teenage girls. There’s the inevitable intro of the handsome new guy at school who she connects with much to the chagrin of her new friends Kaylee and Parker. At times Driza hints that perhaps all is not quite normal with Mila, she’s fast, stronger at times than she realises and can hear remarkably well. It isn’t until an incident incited by her new friend’s jealousy which puts Mila’s life in danger that it’s revealed that she is not simply a teenage girl…she’s an Android.
M(obile)I(ntel)L(ifelike)A(ndroid) to be exact.
Her “mom” is her creator and the dad she’s pining for? He is simply a memory implanted in her brain.
Up until this point things are quite steady, not majorly exciting but my interest was piqued enough to keep going. When Mila discovers her true origins, the pace really picks up and I was hooked.
It was interesting to me how I really felt for Mila, I could empathise with her “pain” as she struggled to come to terms with the fact that instead of blood and veins she had wires, the heart that pulsed under her skin was simply a pump and her emotions – electronic impulses processed through one of her many software programs. Strangely I never once whilst reading really computed (see what I did there) the fact that she wasn’t human. Her longing for the boy she had a crush on, the shock and betrayal she experienced from her mom’s deception all felt “real” to me.
I forgot “what” she was and focused on “who” she was, loyal, loving and fearless.
I enjoyed the action scenes. I confess usually during fights and car chases in books I tend to skim but Driza does a great job of really enabling the reader to visualise the action and it gave me the sense I was watching a movie at times, rooting for Mila and her mom to escape the bad guys.
I was never bored reading this novel; it was hard to believe that it was almost 500 pages because at no time did the pace slow down. I found it really interesting when we learned more about Mila’s origins and how unique she was in defying her initial programming in small ways, her humour, and her snark despite not actually being unique in her make up.
The last part of the book was emotional with one scene really tugging at my heartstrings. The introduction of a fairly pivotal character towards the end intrigued me and I’m dying to know if the hints (At least they were hints to me!) that this character is related to Mila’s past or someone in it will pan out in the future books.
The ending was very sweet but strangely abrupt. I confess I thought I had a faulty copy for a minute and was looking for an extra page. I was expecting more but I guess since it’s a series, there will be; and I for one am very much looking forward to it!
Mila 2.0 is compelling, fast paced, action packed and filled with heart, emotion and above all humanity.