EXTRACTION (Extraction, #1): Review

16210411Extraction (Extraction, #1) by Stephanie Diaz
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on July 22, 2014
Genres: young adult romance, dystopian, science fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Paperback (ARC)
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Rating: ★★★¾ 

The publishing industry flexes according to the current trends in literature, and the current inundation of the reading world with dystopian/post-apocalyptic/science fiction is definitely one of the prime examples.

But, trust me. If you are still looking to get your sci-fi/dystopian fix, you will want to read this one.

I say this primarily because, going into this book, I had my fingers crossed. I was hoping that this would be exceptionally good, that, in the flood of dystopian books in the current YA market, it would be memorable, and that it would be original.

Much to my pleasant surprise, Extraction was, for the most part, these things to me.

The planet of Kiel seems much like our own in that humans inhabit it, but Kiel is very different from Earth in other respects. Luxury and life past twenty years of age is a rare commodity that are given only to those with high Promise (the factor that is supposed to show how useful or valuable a certain citizen is supposed to be). Child labor and starvation are abundant in all the layers of the planet except for the Core, which is portrayed by Developers as the ultimate utopia. The only way for outsiders to be granted Core citizenship is to take the Extraction test, which is administered once every year to sixteen-year-olds as an evaluation of their Promises. A handful of those who show the most Promise are selected from each layer of the planet, and then sent to the Core to begin Extraction training. It is seen as the ultimate escape from a life of constant hunger and misery.

Our protagonist, sixteen-year-old Clementine, is lucky enough to escape the Surface by being picked for Extraction. But the price she must pay for freedom is leaving Logan, the boy she loves, and, the longer she stays in the Core, Clementine begins to wonder if she has even gained freedom at all.

What I liked

  • Extraction’s pacing would probably be its biggest asset, if I had to choose one. The chapters are so masterfully laid out that it is almost impossible to put this book down. I am certain I stayed up until at least 2 A.M. reading to find out the fates of certain characters.
  • One of my favorite aspects of the book is the way that the author portrayed Clementine’s relationship with Logan. She is smart and strong enough to be able to survive on her own, but in a world as harsh as Kiel’s, she needs someone to lean on. I know that I would if I were in her position. Their relationship adds an extra shade of vulnerability to Clementine, and it made her easier to relate to.
  • I felt that the world-building in Extraction was cleverly done in that the similarities between Kiel and Earth were enough for me to be easily able to imagine myself as one of its citizens. Thus, I felt myself caring and feeling empathy for the starving children, the twenty-year-olds being carried away to quarantine, and the kids that know how to do nothing but constant work. Life on Kiel is so bleak, and so incredibly messed up, that I felt pain for its inhabitants, and found myself wishing I could make it better. There were a few things that required my suspension of disbelief at certain points, but, as long as I went with it, I was able to appreciate the way life on Kiel was portrayed.
  • The prose in this book has a tone that reminds me of Divergent‘s: blunt, but meaningful. At times it was even capable of also being beautiful–even poignant. While reading, I remember wishing that I could just take a highlighter and go over all the lines that I felt spoke to me but I would never do that, because I have an ARC of this, and it’s still new and shiny, and I’m terrified I’ll damage it or rip a page or get an oily finger print on the gorgeous cover. There were so many that I am still haunted by this book’s chilling ambiance.
  • I loved that Clementine had mathematical equations and theorems (like Yates’s) memorized. It was a fun little quirk that I haven’t seen in YA yet, and it helped make Clementine’s character unique.
  • I thought the ending was perfect. What a brilliant way to close the first book in this trilogy.

What I didn’t like

  • There were a few typos in my copy, but most of them were minor things, and, because my copy of the book is an ARC, I will not hold the mistakes I found against my rating. I do hope, however, that they are not in the final copies. A few sentences were so mangled with errors that they were incoherent, and I would hate for the meaning of these sentences to be lost because of some undetected mistakes.
  • I wish we could have seen more of Logan in the story. For a character so integral to Clementine’s decisions and behavior throughout the story, I felt as though he needed to be a prominent character in this book. His physical absence throughout most of the plot made it a bit difficult for me to care about the fate of Clementine’s quest. We don’t get enough time with him to see why we should care about him as much as she does.
  • Sam. I mean, it’s all right if you want to include a cocky, antagonistic character in a novel, but still…((SPOILER))Do you have to make him assault the main character and rape her friend in order to get across how evil he was? After that, reading scenes with him in it made me want to take a shower. ((END SPOILERS)) Plus, I know a few Sams, and they’re all really wonderful guys, so that kind of tarnished my image of the name. 😐 It’s a nit-pick, yes, but it bugged me enough for me to want to put it in the review.
  • Clem’s relationship with Beechy. At the beginning, everything was fine. ((SPOILER))Then she started feeling stuff toward him. I get it: she’s vulnerable, and he’s one of the few guys–heck, the few adults–who have ever treated her kindly. I can see how things would transpire that way. However, once Clementine discovers that Beechy is married, this plot thread is dropped like a hot cup of tea and never revisited. After going there with that, I would have appreciated some closure. ((END SPOILERS))

In the end, if you would like to read an enjoyable, addicting dystopian and don’t mind some mature content ((SPOILER))(in other words, if sexual assault doesn’t faze you)((END SPOILERS)), consider checking this one out. It stands as a pretty solid (though a slightly formulaic) dystopian novel with an intriguing premise, and its pretty cover only makes it more appealing.

Extraction is exactly like the moonshine it so terrifyingly describes in that the story settles onto you, haunts you with its urgency, and makes you feel considerably vulnerable for the few hours it takes to finish the book.

Except you’re not dead by the time you finish it. You’re very much alive, and you instantly want more.


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