is a 2013 Young Adult
Conspiracy Theory thriller by Malinda Lo. The second book, Inheritance
, came out later that year. Rounding out the series is the e-book Natural Selection
Reese Holloway is in the airport waiting for her plane after a debate tournament that caused no end of awkwardness with her crush/debate partner, David Li. One minute, everything is fine; the next, birds are dying en masse, and it quickly becomes apparent that they're making suicide attacks on planes in the air. Reese catches wind that the government may be involved, and as skeptical as she is, it becomes apparent that her own flight will be cancelled for a very long time. She rounds up her debate partner and their faculty advisor and rents a car to get home, but the teacher is killed in an attempted carjacking, and when Reese and David drive off to escape, they end up in a near-fatal crash just outside Area 51...
They wake up in a mysterious government hospital months later with strange memories and a non-disclosure agreement. When they're sent home, the city is devoid of birds, everyone is under a curfew, and people seem to be following them. Even as Reese navigates her complicated love life, meeting a beautiful girl
who prompts her to realize that she's bi, she, her conspiracy theorist best friend, and the still-awkward-to-approach David all figure that something big is up... and they need to figure out what before the government catches up to them.
This novel contains examples of:
- Almost Kiss: David and Reese have several.
- Area 51
- Author Appeal: Malinda Lo likes Love Triangles and lesbian romance.
- Betty and Veronica: Amber, a mysterious, pink haired skateboarding alien and David, Reese's Boy Next Door debate partner, are both in love with Reese.
- Black Best Friend: Averted. Julian could very easily come off as the Black Best Friend and Gay Best Friend, but he's got his own interests — which are vital to the plot, no less.
- Broken Masquerade: The goal of conspiracy theorist site Bin 42. At the end of the first book, Amber and David are rescued because their friends and family went to the media.
- Cassandra Truth: Reese's Hub feed in the beginning. "Aliens did it, earthlings. Colonization is coming!"
- Closet Key: Amber helps Reese realize she's bi.
- Crash-Into Hello: How Reese and Amber meet.
- Exact Words: Amber tells Reese that she doesn't know where the accusations of conspiring with the people who changed her body came from because the only person Amber met that day was her mother. Dr. Brand, as it turns out, is her mother.
- Fag Hag: Once Reese realizes she's bi, she and Julian talk about how she can't really count as his anymore.
- Gay Bar Reveal: Though considering that they're dating at the time, Reese isn't too shocked when she realizes that Amber's taken her to a lesbian club.
- Government Conspiracy: The government has kept it a secret that aliens visited earth. They experimented with alien technology to create Super Soldiers.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Amber is fetishized by the world at large when she reveals the truth. She takes most of it in stride.
"Oh, I know they don't know me. The stuff they write about me is hilarious. The speculation alone! Do you know how much money I would make if I would just pose for Playboy?"
- Healing Factor: After Reese's surgery, she has enhanced healing abilities.
- Human Aliens: The Imria look human. Or, more accurately, humans look Imrian.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: "I never said I was the assignment."
- Marry Them All: The polyamorous community of San Francisco is addressed. One character has two husbands, which turns out to be the norm where she's from. This also ends up being Reese's solution for the Love Triangle, at Amber's suggestion — though it takes a while for her to come around.
- Meaningful Name: Amber Gray's name refers to the alien hybrid birds, whose eyes are described as yellow or orange, and the fact that she's... well, a Grey.
- The Men in Black: The special agents who work for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Lampshaded: "I thought Men In Black was just a movie."
- Moment Killer: Reese has a real problem with people walking in on her and her love interests during Relationship Upgrades.
- No Bisexuals: Addressed and dissected. After some readers complained that having the bisexual heroine end up with the male Love Interest in the first book was tantamount to straight-ironing, the second book directly addresses this myth by having more than a few characters instantly assume that Reese only likes women and is dating David as a cover-up. It actually causes a rift with Julian, though when he and Reese fight about it and she tells him that she's bi and she's just not mentioning Amber because the media would run on harmful stereotypes, he accepts it and apologizes for his assumptions.
- Properly Paranoid: Most of Julian's conspiracy theories about Area51 and aliens turn out to be true.
- The Reveal: The government covered up alien visitations to earth. The aliens operated on Reese to "upgrade" her DNA. Amber, Dr. Brand and Agent Todd are aliens.
- Secret Keeper: Julian, once Reese realizes that her NDA won't hold water and that her house is bugged, so she's in over her head.
- Sequel Hook: Walking out the front door at the end of the first book.
- Taking the Bullet: Amber takes a bullet for Reese. She gets better, thanks to her healing powers.
- Telepathy: One of the side effects of the operation is a form of telepathy where Reese can sense people's emotions. David learns to broadcast his thoughts and later teaches Reese to do the same.
- Telepathic Spacemen: The Imria have a form of telepathy.
- Villainous Rescue: We know Torres is actually a good person when she stops her rowdy underlings from beating the three main characters up and attempting to rape Amber.
- Waking Up Elsewhere: After her accident, Reese blacks out. She wakes up in a hospital.
- You Will Know What to Do: When Agent Todd discusses breakout plans in the first book, and when Torres gives them an opening in the second.