Thursday, January 22, 2015

Extraction by Stephanie Diaz Review *Spoiler Alert*


1/5 Stars
Details of the book:
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Synopsis: "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 have had a hard time deciding how to review this book. I really wanted to like it but there were so many factors that prevented me from just that. There were a lot of details that were so similar to other YA books I have read such as Divergent and a bit of The Hunger Games. Aside from that, Clementine (our main character) is in this all-or-nothing world where you either get "Extracted" and you get to live the good life or you fail and are forced to work as a slave until the government decides you are worthless and kills you via gas chamber at the age of 20. That sounds extreme and like something that should make you feel terrible, right? Yet somehow I didn't feel anything. I felt like I was being told to feel things. In theory, I could understand how things were terrible or sad, or both, but the way it's written didn't evoke those feelings fro me naturally.

Strength/Likes:

1) I really liked the premise of the book. It sounded very interesting and had a lot of potential.

2) There are a couple of nice quotes.

3) I really love Logan. He's such a sweet guy.

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) Clementine, of course, is Extracted because she's really smart and she learns to fight extremely quickly, putting her at the top of her class. I have to say that for someone who is extremely intelligent and a fast-learner, she makes a lot of foolish decisions. I understand that stressful situations could cause a person not to be able to act and thinking clearly, but I can't give her that excuse. Why? Because Clementine knows that she is making the wrong decisions at the time she's making them but she allows herself to make these bad decisions even though she knows the outcome will be counterproductive to what she needs to accomplish.

On a side note: Clementine doesn't know how to swim. Then boom, the first time she's in the water ever she can deep sea dive.

2) I didn't feel anything throughout the entire book. Not scared, sad, or angry. The story tells you the exact moments when you should be feeling a whirlwind of emotions but it does nothing to manipulate the reader into actually feeling any of those things.

3) The romance was lacking. Clementine and Logan are together before the start of the plot so we don't get to see their relationship develop. Then they are also separated for the majority of the story so we don't get a feel for their relationship. There are several instances where the book makes the reader question their relationship. At the beginning, Clementine says that she willing to give up everything in order to move to Core, including Logan. Second, Clementine constantly thinks about how Logan doesn't want a better life for her, and talks about how angry he probably is that she left him. Logan's actions and words contradict that completely but the way Clementine thinks about these negative things makes you wonder how strong their relationship really is. If they were really in love, she would know that he wants what's best for her.

4) The setting details didn't make a lot of sense to me. Basically, the people live on the layers of the Earth. There is the Surface, Crust, Mantle, Lower, and the Core. The Surface being the worst place to live because the moon is leaking acid onto the planet (which apparently is done by a generator that an enemy planet has put there) and the best place to live is the Core. In my imagination, the Core of Earth seems like a pretty inhospitable place, so this doesn't make sense to me.

5) The similarities between Extraction to other books like The Hunger Games and especially Divergent is a huge problem for me. I have come to expect in YA novels that a lot of them are going to have a similar plot and a lot of the same characteristics, but this book was pushing it. Let me show you.

Similarities to Divergent:

a) Everyone in the Core is given injections so the government can control them to be a mindless army.

b) The injection doesn't work on Clementine. "Their injection," I say. "The one that makes everyone submissive. It didn't work on me."When its explained to her as to why the injection doesn't work another character says: "They try to make us conform, but we fight them and don't give in." The wording is even similar. Although I think this wording comes more from the film version from Divergent but you get what I'm saying.

c) Sam, a character that hates Clementine because of how well she does when she goes into training. He makes several attempts at killing and raping her. This is pretty much Peter in a nutshell except that Sam doesn't ever try to turn things around.

d) Clementine in her training is forced into a simulation (that is very similar to a fear-landscape) where she is forced to hurt the person she loves the most? Why? Because Commander Charlie was testing her loyalty to her new home. This is one of Tris' biggest fears that she'll have to kill someone from her old home.

Similarities to The Hunger Games:

a) Logan has a weak leg and walks with a limp.

b) We have a President Snow in the character of Commander Charlie. He is the one behind the Extraction test that decides who is welcomed into higher society and he keeps all of the other citizens in separate sections of the Earth where they live in poverty and work in positions that can have them killed.

c) They have a scientific beautification process that takes away all of their flaws. This is only meant for the Core citizens so they are easily recognizable in comparison to the citizens of the other layers.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "I wonder what it feels like to sit up in there in one of those pods and know the woman on your right is your mother, and the man beside her is your father, and the kid next to you is your little sister or your older brother. I wonder what it feels like to know you belong without having to ask."

2) "You know, it wouldn't be your fault," Logan says.

"What?"

His fingers slip through mine and close gently around my wrist. His other hand tangles in my curls, sending trickles of fire across the skin of my scalp. My breath falters on my lips.

"If they picked you, and you had to leave me," he whispers, "it wouldn't be your fault."

Rocks fill my throat, and my eyes grow watery. I blink fast. Moonlight trickles onto the street, over the skyscrapers.

"I might be back soon," I say. The instructors might eliminate me during the final processing, even before the announcement, like they eliminated Logan early this year. If they eliminate me, I'll be back with him in minutes. This will all be over.

"I hope you won't be," Logan says, a sad smile playing around the edges of his mouth.

3) "Promise me you won't do anything crazy." Please don't kill yourself, I mean. He knows what I mean; I can see it in his eyes.

But he doesn't answer. I wonder if I was right to bring up that option. Now, even if he says it won't be the one for him, I won't know if I believe him. I'll always worry that he'll wake up one more and decide he's done fighting.

I swallow hard. "Please promise."

"I promise I won't," he says quietly. "As long as there's any chance I might see you again, I won't."

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