This review contains major spoilers for the MILA 2.0 trilogy, especially the last book, Redemption. Today’s post also mentions suicide (as does the book). This is not like most of the reviews that I write, and it is not at all balanced. It’s rare that I want to truly warn people away from a book; even when I believe a book to be of low quality, I often have the mindset that someone with a different perspective from mine might appreciate it, and even if I think that reader is wrong, it wouldn’t really bother me personally for them to like the book.
That is not the case with this book. The final book in the MILA 2.0 trilogy is so horrifying that I am disturbed by the thought that anyone likes it. Just…stay away from it.
About the Book
Title: Redemption (MILA 2.0 #3)
Author: Debra Driza
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Mila has been running for her life for so long. But there might be nowhere left for her to go. Especially now that she’s an incredible danger to herself and anyone who dares get close to her.
That’s why Mila has gone into hiding with friend and tech expert Lucas. She can’t take the risk of hurting people worse than the way she hurt Hunter: the boy she’ll always love, the boy who might never forgive her for what she’s done.
But then Mila discovers that General Holland—her ultimate enemy—has plans that are an even bigger threat to humanity than she is. His quest to reclaim Mila is only part of a larger mysterious endgame that will put people’s lives at stake. Mila must make a choice: either push aside her fears and fight him with everything she’s got…or turn her back on the world forever.
My Thoughts (on Why This is the Worst Series Ending Ever)
I started this trilogy several years ago, before the last book was published. This was in the thick of my YA sci-fi phase, so a book about a girl who might actually be an artificial intelligence was right up my alley.
Boy do I wish I had run away from that alley instead of reading this series.
The first book, simply called Mila 2.0, hooked me right away. It was interesting, I had no idea what was going to happen next, and it was so different from anything else I was reading despite how enmeshed I was in the YA sci-fi genre. There is mystery, teenage romance, and a ton of plot twists and surprises. There’s also just a little philosophy. At least, I only recall a little now. This may have been a bigger deal in this book than I now remember. Anyways, I enjoyed the book very much, and was eager to read the next. Unfortunately, it was just popular enough at my local library to never be on the shelf when I was there, so it took me a few years to track it down.
The second book, Renegade, picks up in the middle of the action, and I was surprised to find that I had forgotten some of the characters. Looking back, I question whether I actually forgot them, or if they were introduced so suddenly that it seemed like I should have known them before it was feasible. But that is beside the case. This book was not nearly as much fun as the first, but it was still interesting and things were always happening, which made the plot feel like it was moving much more quickly than it really was. In reality, book two covers a very short amount of time, but it is jam-packed with
senseless violence action. Again, there were plot twists and surprises galore, so much so that I became thoroughly confused more than once. There is also more philosophy in this book, especially regarding what it means to be human. This concept is discussed from a scientific/physical standpoint (how much of a person’s brain does a robot need to truly have organic sentience rather than mathematical programming?) as well as a metaphysical one (what is a soul?).
Okay, but so far nothing is problematic, right? Well, that’s how I saw it at the time. Then I read the final book, Redemption, and my view of everything has changed.
You have to understand that, in a sense, Mila is two people at once: she’s Mila, an android with super-human abilities (why make a robot without advanced features?), but she is also Sarah, a teenage girl killed in an “accident” which TURNS OUT was actually arson set by a manipulative maniacal general. Part of Sarah’s brain was put into Mila’s android body, and sometimes Mila has memories that are actually Sarah’s memories. Other times, Mila completely forgets things that she has done since being turned on – like that time when she murders her boyfriend’s dad because she let one of the scientists turn off her emotions. But it’s okay, because they turned them back on and she feels terrible.
No, it’s actually not. But let’s keep going. It gets worse.
Here is my biggest issue with this series: in the last standoff with the man who both created Mila and ruined her life (if you have been convinced that she truly has a life by this point, which does seem to be the expectation), the same man who killed Sarah and a host of other people (some of them brutally, and on-screen in this book), Mila decides that the best way to stop this man from hurting anyone else, is to let him detonate the bomb he planted inside her, effectively committing suicide and murder at the same time.
Did you read that last sentence? Let me rephrase it slightly.
Mila decides, and the author seems to agree by letting it be the ending to the whole series, that the answer to her anguish and the world’s problems as they relate to her, is to commit suicide, and take out the evil genius who created her in the process.
Do you see the problem with this? Are you starting to understand why I’m so upset about this, why it took me more than two weeks after finishing the book to actually write the review, and I’m still struggling to write coherently?
There are a whole slew of moral issues brought up in this series, but the biggest is this: suicide is never the answer. Is it no longer commonly accepted that causing death, your own or someone else’s, should be avoided at all costs? How did this get published? This is probably the second-laziest ending I can possibly imagine. There isn’t even any follow up. There are so many loose ends. What about everyone impacted by Mila’s story? Nothing is said about what happens to them afterwards. No one else had given up fighting when Mila decided this was the only choice left, and took it. Yeah, it’s meant to be a noble gesture, she’s sacrificing herself to save so many others, and making it impossible for the man who caused all of this trauma to inflict any more or talk his way out of punishment. But that is not the only truth to this story.
Mila had friends. They are not even given pages to grieve or mourn. Nothing is truly fixed, because Mila’s death doesn’t actually solve anything. I have so many questions, and I can’t even bring myself to attempt to formulate possible answers because everything about this ending is so insanely unhelpful. Also, I can’t believe that with this ending the book is still labeled as YA? How can everyone have such flagrant disregard for the effect this could have on teens and preteens who are in a sensitive mindset? There is never any excuse for anyone showing suicide as a viable option for solving any problem. None at all. It is irresponsible and downright disrespectful. I am disgusted beyond what I thought possible; I am offended and afraid for those who might read this, unsuspecting the horror of the ending. The majority of the series is spent convincing the reader that Mila is human, is just like you (if you’re a teenage girl who is “not like other girls”), that her life matters even though those around her continually try to manipulate and control her. She is strong and highly independent. In the first two books, she might even be seen as a (slightly problematic but redeemable) role model, with even more potential if she is able to overcome the PTSD of having literal memories of dying. To build her up like that and then have her resort to suicide is unacceptable.
Oh, and there’s a love triangle. How, in all the wide and terrifying world, does Mila manage to have two boys fall in love with her in a span of just a few months, all while doing her best to hide from, like, everyone? And how is this supposed to improve the story?
Do you remember those philosophical quandaries mentioned in the first and second book? Unless the reader responded coldly, insisting that Mila is merely a piece of sophisticated technological machinery with absolutely no rights and no reason to be running away from the people who created her and others who want to use her for their own ends, there is no way to appreciate Mila’s actions at the end.
I’m going to stay angry about this book for a long time. It is terrible and there is no morally positive way to support this book. On top of that, it wasn’t even edited well. One character’s name is spelled differently in different chapters, and there are a few typos that should not have gotten past the editors. This story is poorly put together, has the most atrocious ending that I have ever read, and gives no closure. It’s just plain bad. Actively bad. Not only does it fall short of being good, I think this book chose to (metaphorically) dig the deepest hole it possibly could to get as far away from being good as it could, while still being published.
How many people had to slip up for a book this bad to be published, and by a major publisher, no less? This is a call out for HarperCollins. Why did you publish this? What value do you see in it, and what worthwhile message do you want its readers to get?
I’m at a loss. Obviously not for words, as I’ve said many here already. I’m at a loss for how anyone can find the content of this book excusable. How can anyone read this and not be at the very least deeply disappointed?
Sometimes good stories are sad. One of my all-time favorite books is Little Women, which continues to be heartbreaking at times and exultant in others, no matter how many times I reread it. Even The Hunger Games, which has a similarly devastating ending to its final book (Mockingjay), is not as bad as Mila 2.0. I gave Mockingjay 4 out of 5 stars because, as terrible and painful as the ending is (and I, too, question whether it was the best ending for the series), the ending does not undermine everything that the series sought to build in its previous books. Also, that book doesn’t end abruptly with tragedy. There is an epilogue, and you get a glimpse of the characters lives after the story. No one gets that in Mila 2.0. Everyone in the books entire world might as well die with Mila, because we don’t get to know anything that happens to them after she dies.
Maybe I’m soft for buying the line that an artificial intelligence fused with a human brain is truly alive and has rights and those rights at least include the right to stay alive. I don’t deny that there are issues with this view, but I was willing to suspend them for this book.
I draw the line far before accepting a character’s suicide as anything besides utterly devastating.
Let me be clear: if it is possible to separate the character from the author, I am not mad at Mila for her actions. I am enraged at the way her actions are portrayed and accepted as good. A character, just like a person in the ‘real’ world, can make poor choices. When those choices are catastrophic, I mourn them. What I will not abide is the view that these horrific actions are good or noble.
I truly hate this book and I hate this ending to this series more than any other. It completely ruins the other books in the series and I do not recommend it to anyone.
Has a book ever made you so angry that you had to tell everyone about how bad it is? I am beyond shocked by this book, and I sincerely hope, as strongly as I can possibly hope, that you never choose to read this book. I hope it disappears from every library and goes out of print quickly. I hope that anyone else who does manage to read this book is outraged.
I hope that no one will ever stand by and accept this kind of behavior as acceptable.
Authors can be extremely influential, especially YA authors with what they convince teens is acceptable or not. Everyone makes their own choices, but no one should be influenced in such a way as this book does.
Until the next chapter,