Evolution (Extraction, #3) by Stephanie Diaz
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 8, 2015
Genres: young adult romance, dystopian, science fiction
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If you know me, you know my luck with trilogies. You know how I warm up to a series, and, just when things start to get good, the third book comes along and pulverizes me with disappointment. It’s happened so many times (with some of my favorite series, too) that I actually get antsy when reading the third book in a trilogy, because I know how they end, and I know that they usually disappoint me.
But I can say with confidence that Evolution is one of–if not the only–trilogy finale that did not disappoint me. Trust me when I say this is the highest of compliments.
Before I review this book specifically, I want to take a step back and look at the trajectory of the series as a whole. The first book, Extraction, is a dystopian at its heart, with sci-fi undertones–strong ones, but undertones nonetheless. Rebellion saw a step toward the sci-fi end of the spectrum, with spaceships and spying and an undercover resistance (and so many twists and turns my eyes were practically Gorilla-glued to the pages).
In Evolution, we’re full-on sci-fi, complete with more spaceships (Can you hear the nerd in me squealing?) and an alien invasion. Here, Stephanie Diaz really steps into her own and brings everything she’s got to the table, and it shows. I enjoyed every bit of it.
This book starts in a seemingly impossible situation: Aliens are invading Kiel, and Clementine and her friends in the rebellion might have to consider an alliance with Charlie and the Commanders if they want to stand a chance against the Mardenite armies. But knowing that the Commanders have been Clementine’s enemies–the enemies of everyone she’s loved, the threats to her safety and her security and her entire world–how can allying with them even be a possibility? How could it ever be part of the picture? I knew it was going to take a lot of skill to pull of this maneuver.
But Diaz manages it, and she manages it well. This book doesn’t shirk away from character deaths, and it doesn’t back down from the high stakes it sets up. Everything has been leading up to this, and Diaz delivers.
One of my favorite aspects of this series (besides the covers, of course) is the writing: simple and clean and sleek, but still beautiful. It’s theatrical and vivid, but never overbearingly so. We get breathtaking descriptions of space and stars, and I ate them up with a spoon (the descriptions, not the stars).
In Rebellion, Diaz really hit her stride, prose-wise, and, here, her writing shines just as brightly. Diaz is always aware of the mood of each scene, and her writing tone reflects that really well. Quiet scenes are quiet, and intense scenes are just as explosive as they should be. All of them are written beautifully.
All this being said, I did have a little trouble buying one of the big twists in this novel because I felt it made one of the characters a little too much of a special snowflake, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. The ending was also wrapped up a little too neatly for me, but, again, a minor complaint. I’m always saying I hate it when I don’t closure at the end of a series, so it was great to have that here.
In conclusion, this was a really fun sci-fi series that got my adrenaline pumping in all the right ways, while just happening to have pretty prose. Between the gorgeous covers, the gripping plots, and the lovely writing, Diaz has captivated me with this series just as much as the stars she so skillfully describes. A stellar (heheh) conclusion to an action-packed sci-fi series that’s just as exciting as it is enthralling.