"Welcome to Extraction testing."
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.
What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.
Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.
With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.
I really wanted to like Extraction. It had been almost a year since I last read a dystopian book and I was really pulled in by the setting - Kiel, the imaginary planet somewhere far away in a distant galaxy. Unfortunately, I was slightly disappointed, from early on if I’m being completely honest. Even though I can understand why some reviewers have given high ratings for Extraction, all I could see was the combination of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Divergent. It has been said that great art combines all the best qualities from various sources, but it just didn’t work in this case. I felt like I was rereading the book even though I had never read it before – Extraction was slightly too generic dystopian novel for me.
For some people, the striking similarities with other popular YA books might be a plus, but I’m one of those readers who demand originality, especially when it comes to young adult books. Sure, that might make me a very difficult reader and a harsh reviewer, but I feel like there are so many YA books out there, that in order to stand out, an original plot is crucial. The planet Kiel and the acid pouring moon were really unexpected elements, and they ended up being my favourite things in the book. I think the main reason why I couldn’t get over the feeling why the book felt a bit flat to me was because the author hadn’t crossed the threshold of originality enough for my liking. I didn’t like the grooming of Clementine so similar to Katniss’s when arriving to the high society, or Clemenetine’s specialness which remined me of Tris. Others may well disagree with me.
I'm not sure if it's because I have literally read dozens and dozens of YA dystopian novels, or because I'm simply getting older, but all the dystopian novels seem very similar to me these days. Extraction is a good example one of these generic dystopian novels: there is a single authority/dictator making everyone miserable except for the upper class people, the main character is somehow selected for her specialness, the main character's parents are either absent or otherwise emotionally unavailable, the main character starts an uprising (sorry for the spoiler, I think it was pretty obvious that it would come eventually), the dictator is determined to mess up the main character's love life. I'm not saying that the predictability was the major downfall of the book, but it definitely made me like the novel less. On the flip side, others may quite enjoy reading these kind of books if they know exactly what it is that they want to read and experience. I personally like to be surprised.
I think Diaz could have also explored some of the themes in more detail (which might come later in the series, but I felt like I needed more right away) like the ostracising of Clementine on the Surface and the loyalty between Clementine and Logan. I wish I could have read more about the villain of the story, Charlie, who seemed to lurk in the corners but I never got the feeling of horror emanating from him. He simply seemed a lunatic in charge, but never this omnipresent dictator who yields terror that he probably was supposed to come across as.
I'm not saying that the book was all bad because like I already mentioned before, there were things in the novel that I enjoyed as well. The setting was something that I can’t remember reading about before, and I liked most of the characters like Logan and Beechy (but then again, there was not much about them in the first novel which was a shame). I’ve realised with quite many YA novels that if I haven been entirely in love with the first book of the series, I have often liked the sequel better as the storyline and the characters have more room to develop. I really hope that this is the case with Extraction as well – the series has so much potential.
I really used to love dystopian novels, so much. They were the salt of life when it came down to YA books. However, then the boom of fantasy YA books came and I was swiped away with it and almost forgot how much I used to love dystopian novels. So when I saw that Extraction was requestable on NetGalley, I decided to give my old lover, the dystopian genre, a new shot to rekindle my love for it. Unfortunately, Extraction wasn't able to do it.