First in a trilogy
By Stephanie Diaz
Available now from St. Martin's Griffin
In the world of Kiel, people from the Surface are tested on their sixteenth birthdays to see whether they are worthy of living in the Core. Maybe five people are picked per year. Clementine is determined to make it, and to do well enough to convince the Core people to change their mind about Logan, her brilliant and strong boyfriend who happens to be disabled. When she does make it to the Core, it is a struggle to fit in and excel. Especially because the Core sees the Surface as an enemy, still.
I have to give it to Stephanie Diaz. She does a good job of making the division between the Core, Surface, and other layers seem plausible. The Surface people did revolt, and lost hard. They're all killed off before they turn twenty, and a population of mostly children doesn't have much potential military force. There's an acid rain that plagues the surface and also keeps them from becoming upwardly mobile.
EXTRACTION definitely has some narrative influence from the dystopian trend. However, it does slot more into the rising science fiction trend as the story goes on. There is much more to Clementine's world than there initially appears to be. EXTRACTION also avoids the dreaded love triangle. Any gestures towards it are mere feints, and the boy who would usually be the other leg of the triangle is not a mysterious bad boy but a petty, cruel villain with the merest shade of sympathetic backstory.
I thoroughly enjoyed EXTRACTION, even with the brutality of life on the Surface and the boot camp in the Core. The romance between Logan and Clementine is both sweet and strong, two people who love each other deeply and have each other's backs. I like that their love story was allowed to stand on its own.
And for those who aren't sold, I have one word: aliens.