Mila is just a normal 16-year-old girl, or so she thinks. A normal 16-year-old girl who has just relocated to a small town with her mother after a mysterious accident that killed her father and left Mila unable to remember anything about herself --- not her favorite brand of jeans, TV shows nor her favorite food, though she does remembers her father and the things they used to do together with perfect clarity. The first few chapters introduce us to this Mila: a young girl adjusting to a new life, dealing with loss, trying to fit in at a new school and falling in love for the first time. She is truly human, to herself and to all of us reading her story, which is why it is a shock --- or would be if this particular plot development weren't spoiled in the book jacket --- when she learns that she is in fact an android created by the United States military.
Mila's struggle to remain human even though she is a machine is a highlight of the book, as is her ability to convince even those who only see her as a super-advanced science project of her humanity.
It is this juxtaposition between a Mila who believes herself to be human and a Mila who must learn how to be the machine she was made to be without losing her humanity that is the most effective part of MILA 2.0. Mila's struggles to outrun the people bent on capturing her and shutting her down permanently, as well as her difficulty dealing with the fact that the woman she thought was her mother is actually the Frankenstein to her monster, seem more dire when we remember that just days ago in Mila's world, her worst issues were dealing with the mean girls in school. Mila's battle to reconcile the fact that she is a machine with the fact that she feels so human also makes her fixation on her week long romance with a boy named Hunter easier to swallow. He was the person who made her feel most human, so it makes sense that she would hang tightly on to her memories of him when she finds out she is not, in fact, human. Mila's relationship with her mother-creator is also well-written. Throughout the book, Mila outwardly begs her "mom" to treat her as an equal while secretly wishing she would instead parent and protect. This mimics the way most teenagers feel about their own mothers, and also serves to make Mila seem more human-like than computer.
The only issue I had with the book was the action. Some of the scenes were very suspenseful, specifically one set at an airport, but as we learn more about Mila's abilities, it becomes harder to believe that she wouldn't be able to easily evade anyone who tried to capture her. However, it is relatively easy to suspend disbelief on this small point, especially when the rest of MILA 2.0 is so good. I'm not sure if Debra Driza is going to write a sequel to MILA 2.0, but I would be in line to buy it if she did! Mila's struggle to remain human even though she is a machine is a highlight of the book, as is her ability to convince even those who only see her as a super-advanced science project of her humanity. These, combined with the suspenseful action sequences and the touching mother-daughter relationship that develops between Mila and her creator make MILA 2.0 a great read.
Reviewed by Erin Allen on April 1, 2013