Damselfly, by Jennie Bates Bozic

There are pros and cons to owning a Kindle. The greatest pro that I’ve found is that it’s very easy to accumulate books for my to-read pile. If, while browsing Amazon or Goodreads, a particular book catches my eye and the price isn’t too much, then I can—and most likely will—download a copy to read later. Sometimes that later is several months later, but the book is there waiting to be read. Such was the case with Damselfly. The idea of a future society trying to solve food and energy problems by creating miniature winged humans appealed to me.

On the flipside, the greatest con to accumulating books on my Kindle is that unlike physical copies, the book description isn’t right there on the back cover, and sometimes I don’t remember it when I get around to reading the book months later. Such was the case with Damselfly. The idea of our miniature winged humans in a Bachelorette-esque reality show doesn’t appeal to me, even though I would have known that detail when I purchased the book. It didn’t turn me off then.

So do the wings metaphorically get plucked from this story? Or does it soar above? Let’s get to the review!

It’s the late 21st century, and Lina is a six-inch tall winged teenage girl. She was created by and lives under the supervision of Dr. Christiansen and the Lilliput Project. The first chapter finds her on a survival test against a falcon, and I really enjoyed how it thrusts the reader into the action and into Lina’s world.

She has a few allies in the project and her own little treehouse with a computer, where she’s having a little bit of an online romance with a normal-sized teen boy named Jack who lives halfway across the world. Long-distance relationships can be difficult, but add to that the difference in their heights—although Lina hasn’t been able to tell him the truth about that. They’ve gone on dates in virtual reality situations where she can appear wingless and his size, and soon she’s going to be a legal adult and be free.

Or so she thought.

Turns out there’s a second Lilliput Project that has created six “Toms”—boys the same size she is. I liked this development because it brings about so many solid questions. Why didn’t they tell Lina about the boys? Why is she the only girl? Seriously, from a completely scientific standpoint, if you’re going to make tiny people and see if they’re sustainable—i.e. that reproduction is possible—wouldn’t you need more girls? So what, if anything, went wrong? Is there something far more sinister going on? These are great mysteries, and Lina uses her ingenuity and her small, easy-to-not-see stature to uncover them.

But instead of letting Lina naturally meet the Toms and maybe fall in love with one of them, they put her on a reality show where Lina is to go on dates with them and ultimately select one to be with. Dr. Christiansen blackmails Lina into participating with a threat against Jack—a good enough detail to portray the scientist as a villain—but the idea of scientists resorting to a reality show doesn’t seem very scientific to me. Also, the introduction of six new characters gives most of them very little room to be developed beyond types.

I’m torn with this book. The writing is serviceable, and there are many well-described scenes from Lina’s tiny point of view. When it’s in reality-show mode, there’s nothing that really elevates it above a mixture between standard YA teen love triangles and a reduced version of other YA dystopian reality shows like in The Hunger Games, and I wouldn’t rate it higher than three stars. However, when it’s Lina alone trying to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that she was unknowingly born into—or when she’s with Jack yet still alone and afraid how to tell him the truth—the book is really strong, even five-star worthy in places.

So I’ll take an average. Though there are parts that bug me, Damselfly spreads its wings enough to fly up to FOUR STARS.

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Damselfly is available at Amazon.

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