"Welcome to extraction testing"
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her 16th birthday when she'll be tested for Extraction, in the hopes of being sent from 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 at the Core is a utopia compared to the Surfaceit's free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acidbut life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellersand 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's leaders don't want her runningthey want her subdued.
With great writing, fluid dialogue, and a cast of unforgettable characters, Stephanie Diaz's Extraction is a page-turning, gripping readsure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Gameand leave them breathless for more.
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Today I have to prove I deserve to stay alive.
I push the front door of my shack open a crack, enough to peek outside. It’s dark and dusty out there. Soft pink moonlight falls on some of the shacks across the street. A small black ball hovers through the air with two red lights blinking on its metal surface.
I hold my breath, waiting for the cam-bot to pass. The red lights—fake eyes, we call them—double as motion sensors and cameras. They monitor our every move, relaying a live feed to the security hub in the city. Nighttime curfew isn’t over yet, so I don’t want to get caught.
But I hate waiting. My nerves have been on edge all night. Not just because of today, which is scary enough, but also because Logan should be here already. The wardens kept him late in the fields, but his extra shift shouldn’t have lasted this long, or even half this long.
Finally, the cam-bot is far enough down the road that it probably won’t notice me. I slip outside into the cold. Bitter wind rips at my red-orange curls. The wind is loud, but not loud enough to drown out the whimpers floating from the other shacks, from children having nightmares. Nor does it cover the constant hum of the acid shield in the sky.
Tonight the moon beyond the shield is only half an orb, but it still fills the sky, blocking many stars from view. Every night I see the pink acid clouds swirl on its surface and drip into the vacuum of space, pooling in rivers across the thin membrane scientists built around the edge of our atmosphere.
Every night I pray the shield won’t break and let the acid through.
Dropping into the dirt, I lean against the front wall of my shack and dig my boots into the mud. I hug my knees to my chest. My heart hammers beneath my ribs. In my head, I recite chemical formulas—like LF for the moon’s acid—and divide big numbers by other big numbers to stay calm.
Logan will be here soon. And I’ll get through today.
The smells of sewage and decay settle in my nose. I try to ignore them. There isn’t time today to regret the way the Developers have made me live for sixteen years.
There’s only time to escape.
* * *
The sun creeps out. Security officials emerge from the haze of morning fog far down the road, a whole group of them with more cam-bots and the sinking moon at their backs. They tramp from one shack to the next, getting the other sixteen-year-olds outside.
The front door of the shack next to mine opens, and my friend Grady steps out. His brown skin glows in the pale sunlight. The bags under his eyes are puffy and swollen like he’s been crying all night, but he’d never admit it. I don’t blame him. It’s normal to cry on the day we test for Extraction.
“Are you waiting for Logan?” he asks, forcing the door shut behind him.
I nod, glancing back down the road. He’s still not here.
“Bad idea,” Grady says.
“He won’t be able to find me otherwise.”
“They won’t let you stay here.” Grady nods to the officials in armor, who are still far down the road. They’ll reach me soon, and they’ll use their weapons to force me to get up and walk, if I won’t do it myself.
“I don’t care,” I say.
I’m not sure I can face today without Logan. He should’ve been here last night. He would’ve snuck into my shack like he usually does. He would’ve held me and comforted me, and told me everything was going to be okay.
Even though that probably isn’t true. He already took the test and failed. Our society’s leaders, the Developers, are going to kill him when he turns twenty, if not sooner. Whenever they decide he’s not strong enough for labor anymore. Whenever they have someone to replace him.
When I think about that, I get all crumpled up inside, and I shake so badly I can barely breathe. I’m afraid I’m going to crack and splinter into too many pieces for anyone to count—thousands, millions, trillions?
Grady nods, as if he knows all those things even though I didn’t say them. He wipes his nose with the back of his hand. “I’ll see you, then.”
“Good luck.” The words almost stick in my throat.
“Good luck,” he says, his voice almost too quiet for me to hear him.
I dig my nails into my legs as he leaves. There are other kids walking past me down the road: a growing crowd of people. They’re all heading the way Grady is, toward the departure station. Everyone is leaving the camp, not arriving.
I fight to keep the panic from rising in my chest. Logan has to be somewhere. He promised he would see me off this morning. He promised he’d walk me to the station.
He always keeps his promises. Unless—
“Clementine!” The voice comes from somewhere down the road, and I can’t see who it belongs to.
But it’s him. It has to be.
I push off the ground. Logan moves past a boy and hobbles into view. He was born with a defect in his right leg, which gives him a limp. His floppy, dark hair flutters about his shoulders. Even from a distance, I can see the weariness in his face and the flush in his cheeks. The wardens worked him hard last night.
I run to meet him. “Are you okay?” I ask, throwing my arms around him.
“I’m all right.” He presses his lips against my forehead. His breath warms my skin, calming me. But only a little.
Some crazy part of me thinks passing the test today could save him, too. That if I’m picked for Extraction, if I get to leave, I can convince the Developers to let him leave, too. That maybe they’ll listen to someone who’s Promising.
My eyes trail across the shadow of stubble on Logan’s square jaw as he glances over my shoulder and loosens his hold on me. The officials must be close.
“You ready to go?” he asks. He brushes under his left eye with a finger, as if he’s wiping off a bit of dirt. But it’s not dirt. It’s a fresh bruise from some punishment a warden must’ve given him during the night.
He tenses from his mistake. He doesn’t like me to notice these things.
I scowl. “Is that all they did, or is there more?”
“That’s all, and I’m fine. Come on, you’re gonna be late.”
“Put some mud on it, at least.” I crouch and gather a clump of puddle dirt in my hands. Straightening, I press it gently onto the skin below Logan’s eye, ignoring his hand pushing mine away.
He grumbles, and I smile. “That’s better.”
“What, because I look like you?” He snorts and gestures to my mud-covered legs. “Did you sleep in a puddle?”
“No. Maybe then I would’ve actually slept.”
“You look nice, though.” He tilts his head and gives the dress I’m wearing a crooked smile. It’s the only dress I own, light blue, speckled with faded pink flowers. Its hem frays at the bottom. The shoes I’m wearing are the pair my friend Laila wore before the Developers replaced her.
That was two years ago. The shoes still don’t feel like they belong to me.
Boots squish in the mud behind me.
“Show me your arm,” a voice says. It’s deep, warped by machinery.
I spin and come face-to-face with an official in dark armor. Green light shines through the eye slits in his helmet, blinding me for a second. All officials have fixtures for night-vision and X-ray vision, so they can see if we have possessions on us that we’re not supposed to carry. The remembrance always makes me sick. They can see other things too, if they want.
His gloved fingers close around my left wrist, wrenching it upward. He scans the number inked into my skin—S68477—with a device on his own arm. After a moment, he says, “You’re eligible for testing.”
As if that’s news to me.
He drops my wrist. “Get to the station,” he says to me, before reaching for Logan’s arm.
“I know I’m not eligible,” Logan says, his voice a little strained.
“You still need to get to the station,” the official says as he checks Logan’s Extraction status. “The work transport will leave directly after the testing transport.”
“He knew that already,” I say. I swear I don’t intend to snap the words, but they spill out that way.
“Thank you,” Logan says to the guard, forcing politeness into his voice and shooting me a look.
The guard grunts in amusement. “Looks like your friend here doesn’t have much of a shot.”
The green light shooting from his helmet feels, suddenly, like a hundred needle points on my skin. But I don’t care what he says; he’s wrong. I have a shot, even if it’s a slim one. Of course I do.
Even if both Logan and Laila lost.
“Get going,” the guard barks.
Logan tugs on my hand. I lower my eyes and move with him down the road.
We trail behind the others heading for the departure station. Red sunlight bakes the muddy road and heats my back.
There are twenty streets in total in the work camp, and a hundred shacks and two latrine stations in each row. Two more officials stand ahead of me on this street, on either side of the road, scanning the crowd for anyone who might threaten the stability of the camp.
I try not to make trouble. I try to cooperate with them. Obedience is a key component of what the Developers call Promise, along with intelligence and physical strength.
Promise is everything. It’s how the Developers rank us according to our usefulness, and it’s what the instructors will test me for today. The ten sixteen-year-olds with the highest Promise are the ones who will be Extracted away from here. They’ll get to travel deep down through the underground sectors—Crust, Mantle, and Lower—to the planet Core, the fifth sector, the home of the high-class citizens.
There, they’ll be safe instead of worthless. They won’t be forced to labor. They won’t be replaced.
“Maybe this’ll be the last time you walk down this street.” Logan bumps my shoulder.
I close my eyes for half a moment to steady my breathing. “We won’t find out until tomorrow.”
“Almost the last time, then.”
My eyes trail over the shack doorways where the children who aren’t old enough to work or attend school sit with swollen bellies in the dirt. I used to be like them, before I figured out how to find scraps of food and hide them so older kids couldn’t steal them. Before Laila took me in one night, when I was bloody and broken from a bad run-in with an official.
The official had caught me trying to climb to the top of the school roof on a dare, even though it was off-limits. The butt of his gun smacked my jaw and gave me a horrible cut that turned into a scar. He was ready to take my already slim meal rations away for a week, but Laila convinced him to take hers away instead.
I thought she wanted something in return, but all she did was carry me home and lay me on her cot, and wipe the blood off my face while I cried into the straw of her mattress.
She said I could stay there if I wanted. She said I was a smart kid, but if I broke too many rules I’d be replaced early.
She said she’d like to see me get picked for Extraction.
But she can’t. She’s dead now. She can’t even see me fail.
“Maybe,” I say to Logan. My Promise is pretty high, but high enough to make me more than a body and a number in the eyes of the Developers?
We reach the departure station. The steel platform covers an old section of the rusted train tracks that still run through the work camp. The tracks are a remnant of the days before our planet’s ozone layer corroded from pollution and the moon’s acid bled into our atmosphere. The days before our leaders and their chosen people fled far underground and left the rest of us up here to fight for a rare shot at survival.
There’s a line of people standing on the stairs on the left side, which lead to the top of the platform. Officials at the top make sure the sixteen-year-olds waiting for the hovercraft stay behind the boarding rail.
Logan and I push into the back of the line. I don’t see Grady, but he must be here somewhere. I hope I’ll run into him again soon.
The kids who can’t test and the ones who already did, like Logan, have to stay on the ground and wait for the hovercraft to the fields. They have no choice but to work the farms for the Developers until they’re replaced. Some are forced to procreate, to replace themselves. Logan hasn’t been chosen for that yet, but it could still happen. I worry it will every day.
I worry it will happen to me too, if I don’t do well today. We could run if we fail, but we wouldn’t make it past the electric force field surrounding the Surface settlement. We could take our own lives—and some of us do try—but too many fail at that attempt. And most of us are too scared to try. Most of us still hold out hope that the Developers will make an exception. That they’ll let us live even after we turn twenty, if we remain obedient and work hard.
But in all my years alive, I’ve seen them make only two exceptions—they Extracted two people at age nineteen, for whatever reason. Two out of several thousand people is not the best odds.
There’s a loud, whirring noise behind me.
A scream erupts from the crowd.
I tense, but turn my head to see what happened. There’s a flurry of movement among the group of older kids. A couple of them are suddenly frantic, tripping over their feet, trying to run, but there’s nowhere to go.
My fingers dig into Logan’s arm. A hov-pod has stopped in the street behind us. Two officials hop out of the back, pulse rifles in hand. Then two more officials, and three more after them.
They stomp through the dirt toward the crowd of older kids. They wrench people’s arms into view, and scan the numbers on their wrists.
They’re checking everyone’s replacement status.
My breaths come too fast. They don’t usually do this during the day. Usually, they take people away in the evening, so we don’t even see. So we can almost pretend it doesn’t happen—at least until it’s our turn.
Logan pulls me against his chest. I squeeze my eyes shut and focus on the shaky rhythm of his heart, but it doesn’t help. I can still hear the unlucky ones when they’re identified. They scream and sob and fight against the officials as they’re dragged into the back of the hov-pod, to be chained up and taken to quarantine. That’s what officials call it, but we all know what it really is: a gas chamber in the detention facility. A death room.
Two years ago, officials took Laila there. She threw me the boots I’m wearing now as they dragged her away.
The more of us the Developers keep alive to work their farms, the more of a threat we become. So they keep us weak and hungry, trapped by guns and fences, until they decide fresher blood would be more obedient. More useful.
Twenty is the cutoff age, but many people are replaced sooner.
Logan tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. He hums the tune of a lullaby he made up the night Laila was taken away, when I fell asleep in his arms with my tears trickling onto his shoulder:
To the krail’s caw, to star song
In the field, love, we’ll dance
’Til the moon is long gone
Until the world ends
When all the people marked for replacement in this area have been collected, the back of the hov-pod closes, and the vehicle heads down the road.
The rumble of a sky engine reaches my ears. I don’t have to look up to know it’s the departure craft come to transport us to the city. But not all of us. Only those my age will be allowed on board.
Logan’s arms loosen around me as the line on the ground starts to push up the stairs. “Don’t be afraid, okay?” he says.
“I’ll try,” I whisper. But how can I not be afraid? I’ve dreamed about this day for years. I’ve longed for it. I’ve dreaded it.
Logan gives me a crooked smile.
Bodies bump me from behind. I force my eyes away from Logan and take the first step up the stairs. Clutching the rail, I focus on the red sun glinting on the surface of the hovercraft. With every step, I urge my legs not to shake so badly. I walk up these steps every morning on my way to school. I can pretend this morning is like every other morning; I can pretend everything is normal.
I won’t look back at Logan. For days, I know he’s been worrying about what will happen if by some miracle luck is on my side today. If I win an escape that he lost last year.
But I can’t worry about that yet. This test is my only shot.
I won’t mess it up, no matter what.
Copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Diaz
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was quickly drawn into this harsh world where the moon's acid isn't the biggest threat to destroying what's left of the population, but the leaders themselves are. I loved the underground safe place for those deemed important to society and Clementine's determination to succeed. Incredibly well-imagined with a great twist on the genre.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me a copy of this book to read and review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review. I will say that when I read the blurb for this book I had very high expectations. It really sounded absolutely fabulous. A mix of dystopian and sci-fi, I couldn’t help but get excited for it. And the cover was so cool, though even after having read it I’m still not quite sure I understand it. This book really had me torn. On the one hand, the plot was interesting and drew me in. On the other hand, I found too many similarities with this book and a few others that I have read. It’s The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game meets Moon Dwellers meets Under the Never Sky and throw in some Divergent, in my opinion. Had I not read all these books, I would absolutely think this world is unique and totally different from anything I’ve ever seen. But, alas, I just felt it was a convergence of all these other books. And considering the book is pitched as “Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game” it’s certainly not far off in any sense. Let me show you. Ender’s Game: the best of the best is taken into space so they can be trained to fight the enemy. They go through tons of simulations to train them for this task. Extraction: the best of the best is taken to the utopian core. They go through simulations to train them and make sure to weed out anyone who will not be loyal to the government. The Hunger Games: Katniss is taken from her family and friends to fight for her life. She spends time in the Capitol, what appears to be a utopian city where she trains for the fight. Extraction: Clementine is taken by Extraction from her family and her love, Logan. She is brought to a Utopian city where she trains to ensure she gets to stay. Divergent, oh, there are so many similarities here, I’m not sure I can list them all. Let’s just do it this way: the simulators (appears in both), there are different factions of people (appears in both, although in Extraction it’s based on poverty levels), the people living in the Core are injected to keep them under control just as the Divergent where to become an army, Clementine can resist the shots (Tris was Divergent so things didn’t go how they should when she was put under simulation and she could resist it), Clementine beats everyone at things (as does Tris). I think I’ll stop there because there are too many to list. Moondwellers and Under the Never sky: this society is based on poverty levels and people live in different parts inside the earth because they cannot live on the surface as it’s toxic. Extraction: it’s the opposite in tiers are Moondweller’s, but the concept is the same. Honestly, I had a hard time reading this book. I kept putting it down and then picking it back up after reading something else. Hoping that it would draw me in and keep my interest. But it didn’t. I had to wait until about ¾ to 80% into the book for things to get moving. Also, the plot is drawn out and we don’t learn much about what’s going on. It’s supposed to be a slow reveal, but it just kind of plods along and doesn’t give anything to the reader to keep them interested. I also had no connection with the main character. I found her rash decisions annoying and selfish if not completely frustrating. I found her to be immature, especially considering how she has had to grow up. Overall she did not impress me and is forgettable. And the romance, I just don’t see it. I can’t feel it at all when she’s all swoony over Logan. And his actions, except for maybe the kiss they share, show me nothing of how he feels for her. Plus I have no real background on them, so it’s hard to see if this was already kind of there or if it’s built and now as she’s leaving they are really being torn apart. As a final thought, I’m unclear about the world building. I see that the surface is toxic, we get a bit of background about it (although we don’t understand how it happens until more towards the end of the book and even then it’s not 100% clear). And who determined where people would live? How did the government form? I just didn’t get the sense of background I needed to understand it. Considering it took almost the whole book for any action to happen at all, you would think the rest of the time would have been spent building the world, but for me it fell flat. So, as you can see, this book just wasn’t for me. Too many similarities to all these other books I’ve read and not enough originality to keep me interested. I hate that I disliked it when the blurb has so much promise but for the length of it, I just feel it’s not worth someone’s time to rehash all the stories they have already read. Honestly, I think the dystopian genre is getting a bit played out and the original concepts are few and far between. For me, this would not be a book I recommend to sci-fi or dystopian fans.
**I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review** 3 1/2 solid stars! In a skewed version of the world, in Kiel, where the “Surface” is the considered to be unsafe, only the most “Promising” of citizens are extracted to the Core where they will be safe from the moon’s acid. The extracted are put through tests and brain scans in their sixteenth year and they are tested on their strength, obedience, and intelligence. Clementine is all three, and an excellent candidate for extraction, but of course that means leaving behind her best-friend Logan, who was denied extraction just one year earlier, as he was born with a slight limp. So when her dream of leaving the unstable surface is realized and she is chosen to be extracted, she has mixed feeling about the phenomenon. Her hope is to get in well with the “Developers” who select the extracted and see if they are willing to make an exception for Logan, as she is devastated to be separated from him. But before too long, Clementine starts to see the Core life isn’t all it’s been taught it is. There is still cruelty, lies, and deception at every turn – so the question is, can Clem handle it, or will be separated from Logan forever, with both of their deaths imminent? While Clementine is smart and strong, she struggles with obedience. She knows she is supposed to listen to and trust those in charge; she just has a hard time seeing the good or rightness in them – making her a target and a potential threat. And while she does make a few friends in the Core, she also makes some very powerful enemies. At times, Clementine feels like a bit of an empty character – she’s strong, but then she gives in; she is very smart, but she turns around and makes a stupid decision. Also, I feel like at times the store was a little hallow or lacking. I was able to make quite a few easy predictions that came to fruition that could have had a little more depth to them. I loved the story and concept, but was just left a little wanting by the end of the book. Still, I am looking forward to the rest of Clem’s journey in the next book.
4 Stars EXTRACTION was an fantastic book that I really enjoyed! It was a great "Pick me up" kinda book! I felt myself slowly going into a reading slump before reading it, then as I progressed in the book I found myself wrapped up in this terrifying, yet addicting world in EXTRACTION and my reading slump was official over. I was fascinated by this world and how it was setup. I've read plenty of dystopian novels, probably more dystopian then any other genre. But they're was something about EXTRACTION that made it feel different then your normal dystopian novel. It was plotted similar to your average dystopian, but at the same time, it felt different then anything I've ever read, and I loved that about EXTRACTION. THE PLOT... The planet of Kiel is toxic and has been killing millions for many years. But what little humans have survived live either on the Surface with the moons lethal acid, working themselves to the bloody bone, or live underground where it's much safer from the moons acid (Moonshine as they call it.) But not all the sectors underground are as good as they seem. The ones living in the Crust, Mantle, and Lower are also forced to work themselves sick. They've been deemed unworthy, only capable of working to support the Core. The Core being the brains that runs their new-found world on the planet of Keil. They are called The Developers, the scientists that created their undergrounds safe havens. They are the dictators, and they are vile and vicious, and wouldn't think twice about taking you out if they found it in their best interest. And all the ones living above them, are all doomed, for death!! But their is one way out, if your lucky. On your 16th birthday you are given a test that will determine your promise score. For they only want the smart, the strong, and the obedient people in the Core, where life is easy compared to above. The ones living underground in the Core are the privileged, and were either born into an authority position, or were hand picked on their 16th birthday to enter the Core and contribute to the Cores survival. Clementine is one of the unlucky, she lives on the surface with the moons lethal acid. She has seen first hand what the acid can do to a person if given minutes within it. Only reason she is still breathing is because The Developers have built a protective shield to help keep the acid from penetrating and entering their planet of Kiel. But that does not mean it does not leak through sometimes, because it does, and it can be deadly. Clementine lives in the work camps working day and night to support the Core. She has waited sixteen long years for her opportunity to take the Extraction testing and get off the deadly surface. She has wanted nothing more, except one person, her boyfriend Logan. But if she's approved for Extraction, she will have to leave him behind, for good! But as Clementine digs deeper into the Core and their plans, she realizes that all is not what it seems, and the clock is ticking if she doesn't do something to stop the evil plans the leaders have set in motion. Then all might be lost for the surface dwellers, and that means Logan too, and that is something she can not have. Clementine will have to make some tough decisions along the way, some that will not only change the fate of her and Logan, but the fate of the rest of the population. And if she's not careful, all could be lost and everything she's been fighting for would of been for nothing! EXTRACTION was an awesome dystopian that I devoured quickly. I've grown to care for these characters and the horrible situations they've endured, and the strength they were able to find when all seemed lost. Overall, EXTRACTION was a freshly terrifying, yet fantastically additive dystopian, that will have you on the edge of your seat demanding more! EXTRACTION was everything I needed to get me out of my reading slump, and had more then enough action and adventure to keep me engaged. And before I knew it, EXTRACTION was over and I was needing more!! I am so excited for the next book, and the cover of REBELLION is sooo AMAZING!!! NOTE: I received a physical ARC from St. Martin's Griffin for reviewing purposes! All opinions express are my own, and are not influenced in any way!
This book is amazing like nutella!! I absolutely and completely fell in love with it! Those are my first thoughts after finishing reading it. Yes I know, I took a while since I "just" finished the book, but I'm a slow reader so I guess that can't be helped. But seriously, everything from the main characters to the plot of the entirety of this novel just sucked the living soul out of me. It was that good. I thought the plot was really well done considering it would be tough to compare to popular novels similar to this like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Although similar in some ways, it was very unique and different from the other novels that I loved it so much. The moon with it's poisonous acid and the Earth divided into sections of the layers of the planet. The people living on the surface and the lower sectors wanting to live a better life in the Core of the planet they call Kiel. This is definitely a book you want to add to your TBR list if you're a fan of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and syfy/dystopia genre.You won't be disappointed ;)