ARC Book Review: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

Posted July 23, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: Extraction by Stephanie DiazExtraction by Stephanie Diaz
Series: Extraction #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 22nd, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 415
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

"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.

1 Stars

You know, I’m one of those people who has a love-hate affair with the dystopian genre. I love the possibilities, and the nostalgia about all the good series there have been in the past. So even when I’m disappointed, I keep coming back and giving it more chances. However, the more I read, the harder and harder it is to impress me. And sadly, Extraction failed to impress me on any front.

Let’s break down the premise of Extraction and look at its influences.

  • Extraction takes place in a world where the moon is poisonous. It’s dripping acid onto the planet, which makes it unsafe to live on the Surface. In fact, there is only one settlement left on the Surface, which is protected by an acid shield. (Under the Never Sky)
  • In this society, people are divided into communities based on their class (or “Promise”). The lower class live in different layers of the planet – Surface, Crust, Mantle, and Lower – and the elite live in the Core. They live privileged lives with plenty of food, resources, and opportunities while the lower classes are basically starving. (The Hunger Games)
  • The people on the Surface are generally the lowest of the low. They work in work camps, like slaves, and population control is being enforced to prevent rebellions, as there have been in the past. Indeed, if people do not show enough Promise they are resolutely executed by max age 20. (The Hunger Games / Dualed)
  • So what is Promise, you ask? Basically a measure of intelligence, strength, and obedience. People take an aptitude test for it when they turn 16. If they score well enough, and thus are “Promising”, they are “Extracted”, and get to live in the elite Core and survive past age 20. (Divergent / The Testing / Pawn)
  • If they do not show enough Promise, they will be forced to work to the death in the work camps and have children to sustain the population (while they are age 16-20). Indeed no one in this society actually knows who their parents are (except for privileged families in the Core). (The Chemical Garden)
  • The MC, Clementine, has a significant other on the Surface (although they’ve never really established their relationship out of fear), but he did not test as Promising in his year. When she passes the test, she has to leave him behind, which is awful. They have a dramatic goodbye. (The Hunger Games / Pawn)
  • When she gets to the Core, View Spoiler » (Dualed)
  • And after this first test as new citizens of the Core, the Extractions are cleansed of physical imperfections and surgically altered to improve muscle mass, after which they are put into a rigid training program, featuring obstacle courses, simulated battles, and intelligence tests. View Spoiler » (The Hunger Games / Divergent)
Now that might all be a bit overwhelming, but let me be clear on one thing: the story does deviate and gain some sense of originality AFTER all of this. You just have to sit through the first half of the book, being smacked upside the head with all these parallels, but then you’re good! Sadly, the “original” plot also failed to impress me. I will say that this is more of a sci-fi dystopia than I was expecting, so in some sense that did surprise me in a positive way. However, I felt many of the plot twists were still extremely predictable. The world building seemed pretty implausible to me (which is sad, considering dystopias are most effective when you can in fact imagine them happening in real life), and the plot resolutions were oftentimes way too simplistic (i.e. the MC has to cut a wire to disable a system – conveniently this one wire, amongst thousands, is the only silver one). Action sequences were bizarre and confusing (i.e. MC is being attacked, in the middle of a battle with guns and lasers, but her ally pulls the guy off her – doesn’t shoot him but says she’ll distract him??), and the MC was just magically gifted whenever necessary to the plot (i.e. she climbed a building exactly ONE time, and later claims that climbing – that’s the thing she excels at).

But more than anything, because of the slow build up to an actual plot, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any aspect of this book. I didn’t care about the main character, whose nondescript personality is… exactly that. I really didn’t care about her romance with Logan, because having a relationship already established before the book begins just never works for me. I had exactly zero feels reading kissing scenes between them. ZERO. And I like to feel things. And the other characters are practically cardboard placeholders fulfilling necessary roles in the story. I just… I don’t know. It didn’t work for me.

Summing Up:

I keep thinking the next dystopia I pick up will prove me wrong but… it’s not Extraction, that’s for sure. The story lacked in originality, interesting characters, and an engaging storyline. It pretty much put me to sleep. Three times. And made me put off reading it for almost a week. And that’s just sad. I’d recommend you pass on this one.

GIF it to me straight!


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16 responses to “ARC Book Review: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

    • Yeahh, definitely not worth anyone’s time whose read more than one dystopian series in the past. =/ A pity though. I feel bad having to write such a negative review of a debut author. *sigh*

  1. Yeah, this was really not interesting in the slightest. Everything was so simplistic, the prose was bland, there was nothing remarkable about any of the characters or their relationships. I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that happened in this book. I’m not sure how I managed to finish it. So disappointing, ugh.

    • Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s just the sense of obligation I have to finish review copies that actually got me to finish this one. And, well, I guess I kind of wanted to know how the alien thing would pan out? But eh. *shrug*

    • That about sums it up, yeah. Man, why did I bother putting in the time and effort to write this review when I could have just written that? xD


        No, but seriously, you did a great job of showing just how derivative this genre has gotten, and one of my biggest pet peeves is having a relationship established before the book begins and never getting you invested in it. Like, it can be done well, but if you don’t work hard to make people care WITHIN the story frame… i don’t know. We need to SEE the relationship to CARE about it. You can’t just say, “X loves Y!” over and over and expect us to believe it.

        • Hahaha, I didn’t mean to mock, I was actually being quite serious ^^; But yeah.

          I am soooo with you there. I neeeeeed to really gain that investment in relationships, just telling me they love each other does NOTHING for me. It’s part of the reason why the If I Stay duology didn’t really work for me (pleasedon’tshootme) because it didn’t manage to convince me to care about their relationship. I mean they had all those flashbacks, but with the messed up chronology, I never really felt invested. I really wish authors would stop doing this, especially when, like in Extraction, there are those scenes that I know are MEANT to have me swooning. No, authors. That’s not how it works. Either do romance or don’t. But don’t half ass it.

    • The climbing thing felt soooooo random to me, but I guess they felt the need to make her more like Katniss? I dunno. It was just stupid.

  2. I couldn’t even finish this one basically for all the reasons you mentioned. The romance was unbelievably blah, the elements were tired, nothing was exciting or intense or caused feelings, and I wanted more explanation about pretty much everything about the world-building. Plus it was super tell-not-show-ey. So much meh. Props for managing to get through it, though!

    • It was definitely not worth finishing, to be honest. I don’t know why I bothered. But yeah, you were smart to get out when you did. So disappointing though.

  3. Aww. I don’t think I have your patience to sit down and read this book while thinking about all the other dystopian novels I’ve read. You have said nothing commendable about this book so I’d simply stay out of its way and pick better books to read. Thank you for your honest review, Debby!