Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mila 2.0

Mila 2.0

Debra Driza
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
HarperCollins, 2014   ISBN: 978-0062090362

Just a little over a month ago Mila was living with her parents in their family home near Philadelphia. Then there was a fire which destroyed their house and killed Mila’s father. Now Mila and her mother are living in Clearwater, Minnesota, on a farm in the countryside. The town is tiny and there is very little to do there. Mila’s memories of the past are fragmented, due,  her mother has told her, to the trauma that she experienced when the fire broke out. Mila spends a lot of her time trying to remember more about her former self and grieving for the father she cannot fully remember.

   Mila has made one friend in Clearwater, a vivacious girl called Kaylee. She thinks that Kaylee is a genuinely good person, and then a new boy moves to town. Hunter is very good looking and Kaylee immediately sets about trying to get him to like her. Hunter surprises everyone by choosing to spend time with Mila, the outcast girl that no one knows how to deal with. Kaylee is far from pleased and she expresses her displeasure in no uncertain terms. Mila finds herself sitting in the back of Kaylee’s pickup truck when Kaylee drives her and Hunter to the local Dairy Queen. Kaylee makes no effort to drive carefully and Mila is thrown from the back of the truck. Her arm is injured, which is how Mila finds out that under her skin there aren’t muscles and blood vessels. Instead there are wires and other materials that do not belong inside the body of a human being.

   Mila confronts her mother with her discovery, which is how she finds out that she is not human at all, though she has had human memories and emotions downloaded into her brain. Mila is a government experiment and she was created to serve as a weapon. The women whom Mila calls Mom helped to build Mila and when she discovered that Mila was evolving, that she was becoming more and more human all the time, ‘Mom’ decided to take Mila away before someone could harm her or destroy her. Mom has been doing her best to hide Mila, to keep her safe from the people who consider Mila to be an unfeeling machine that they have the right to use as they wish.

   Mila is appalled when she finds out that she is not who she thought she was. She is also terrified and does not know how to process this incredible news. Before she really has the opportunity to come to terms with what she is, the enemies Mom has been running from arrive at the farm. Mom and Mila have no choice but to run, and as they make their way to Canada, Mila begins to find out how amazing and special she is. She also begins to appreciate that she is going to need every skill she has if she is going to survive.

   In this extraordinary book we meet a girl who learns something about herself that changes her whole outlook on life. She learns that she is an experimental android and she has to come to terms with the fact that though she feels and looks like a human, she is in fact a very advanced machine. Full of tension and unexpected plot twists, this story explores what it means to be a human. We see, through Mila’s extraordinary eyes, that you don’t need to have flesh and blood to be a human.