Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.]
Note: There are some relatively minor spoilers in this post, but as I discuss later in the review, they are completely predictable, so they aren't really spoilers.
I've been reading a lot of YA fiction and sci-fi lately. I think that may have been the reason I didn't LOVE this and only liked it. The market is saturated with Hunger-Games-esque books where kids are disposable, constantly in danger, and often forced to kill other kids. There is always a protagonist who is "better" than the rest in some way, special, able to withstand torture that would have broken another person in her (more often than not female) position. I caught a lot of reference to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and even Eve in here, which all of course hearken back to much earlier science fiction such as The Handmaid's Tale and Rollerball Murder and the like. It makes sense that readers like what they like, and want to read more of it. But I'm at the point where they all read the same to me.
Style-wise, this was no different than any other dystopian SF I've read lately. It's in first person present tense, with a female narrator, who doesn't know where she comes from but finds out she's special in some way and decides she doesn't want to conform (because conformity is *always* a bad thing, no matter what). So she becomes hell-bent on proving herself and eventually ends up a rebel. That's the entirety of this book, in a nutshell. It's well-written, intriguing, and I enjoyed the read, but there's nothing truly different about it other than the fact it's on a planet with a toxic moon.
It was also completely, absolutely predictable. Of course Clementine would be picked as an Extraction at the last second. Of course there's a truly horrible character who attempts to rape her twice (because that's the "in" thing in YA dystopians, isn't it? And how gross is that sentence for being true?). Of course she becomes a rebel, because that's what these protagonists do. And that's not a bad thing, because questioning authority and thinking for yourself is always a good idea. But the fact is, it's predictable. And that doesn't necessarily make for a good read.
And of course there are my usual gripes about word choice, there were an awful lot of people who slipped hands around Clementine's wrists. Apparently that is the best and only way to describe the act of taking someone by the wrist and leading them in another direction. There were also numerous typos, especially towards the end of the book when one sentence made absolutely no sense. This I will chalk up to the fact that I read an advanced copy, and I hope that these errors have not made it into final publication.
The love story was rather meh. The introduction of a potential second love interest was clumsy, since I can't see Clementine as someone who is so easily swayed in her feelings, but she seems to take a liking to Beechy before she finds out he's married, at which point that entire angle is dropped (as it should be, but shouldn't really have been introduced to begin with). Her body language and his are all quite awkward, and their friendship is fast, forced, and very strange.
If you haven't immersed yourself into the world of YA dystopian SF lately, go ahead and read this book. It wasn't "unrecommendable," to use a made-up word. I liked it enough to finish it, and to actually put a good amount of effort and thought into what I wanted to say. It was fun, entertaining, and well-written for the most part. Most of the people I follow would probably enjoy it as well. But it's not really ground-breaking or unforgettable (as the blurb on the giveaway brands it), certainly not something I would call "great literature." For what it was, it's worth the three stars.
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As an aside, if you are interested in reading this book, there is a giveaway on the Goodreads page (just click the title link at the top of this page) for one copy, ending July 22, 2014. You must be a member to enter.