Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Me on Inheritance

Title: Inheritance
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Reese and David are not normal teens, not since they were adapted with alien DNA by the Imria, an extraterrestrial race that has been secretly visiting Earth for decades. Now everyone is trying to get to them: the government, the Imria, and a mysterious corporation that would do anything for the upper hand against the aliens. Beyond the web of conspiracies, Reese can’t reconcile her love for David with her feelings for her ex-girlfriend Amber, an Imrian. But her choice between two worlds will play a critical role in determining the future of humanity, the Imria’s place in it, and the inheritance she and David will bring to the universe.

Inheritance is thrilling, mysterious, and ever so complex. This book is an exploration of many things, of being a teenager, of sexuality and attraction and the emotions behind them, of the other and the unknown, and, most importantly, of trust. The transition between this and its predecessor is seamless and fluid. The tension is just as high and the stakes are even higher.

Now the truth is out for Reese and David. Now the public knows that aliens are real, that they have been on Earth for some time, and that the two teens are different because of their encounter. Now comes the backlash from this information getting out, now comes the fear and the hatred and the confusion. But things are still being kept from them, hidden away in secret, and soon they'll learn that everyone from the US government to the Imria to covert groups have an agenda.

Reese is struggling to keep a hold on every part of her life. She has new abilities gained from the addition of the Imrian DNA, she has the government keeping her mouth shut tight to keep from exposing anything that might harm their credibility, and she has people both wanting a piece of her and wanting to hurt her. Plus, some hurdles have arisen in her love life. She really likes David, just as much as he likes her, but she can't forget Amber Gray, her Imrian ex-girlfriend. Reese doesn't know what to do anymore. All hopes of a normal life have been quashed, ruined by that car crash in Nevada. No decision she makes will please everyone. But she's spreading herself too thin trying to learn as much as she can about what's happening, and everything could explode around her as a result.

In literature, in YA, there is often an other, be it a character or creature or something more. The other is often feared, often not accepted, and often hated because it represents what the majority are not. As much as we promote openness and individuality now, our past is filled hatred towards those who didn't look like us. Racism and sexism still run rampant through society. Here, the other is a being not even from our planet. It's alien, it's unfamiliar, it's not human. What are their intentions? Will they be peaceful, reaching out to connect with other worlds and learn, or will they come with plans of domination and destruction? First encounters are complicated, first impressions are crucial, and trust will not be given easily. Reese and David have a slightly different problem in that they have become the other. What are they supposed to do now?

Just like with the other, this book explores sexuality. Reese's, in particular. In Adaptation, Reese was moving away from her crush on David and towards her attraction and connection with Amber. Here in Inheritance it's slightly the opposite with her and David together, trying to have a relationship, while Reese resents Amber for lying to her. But Reese still has the connection to Amber, it's still there no matter how much she'd like it to go away. I like how there were moments of Reese exploring her sexuality, trying to figure it out. I also liked the foray into sex versus gender. Sex is biology, what we come into the world as, while gender is more connected to sociology, what we identify as and how we want the world to see us. But what if the lines were blurred? What if there was no differentiation between genders, between sexes?

This is a thrilling book about a teenager trying to figure out a lot of things in order to have something that resembles a normal life, things like high school, her sexuality, her abilities post-alien experimentation, and one or two government cover-ups. A big part of this duology is that, yes, it's science fiction, but it's also about Reese and her discovering who she is, her identity and humanity, and that keeps the book grounded. It makes her sound more like a real teenager with real problems.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

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