Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher/UKArcShare in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.
To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure what expect from Extracted by Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Jolley, as I could clearly see from the cover that it contains elements of steampunk, and the most experience I’d had with steampunk was from reading Something Strange and Deadly, so I headed into it pretty blind. And reluctantly so.
I say reluctantly, because it also had vibes of sci-fi and fantasy, with its promise of time-travel, and if you know me, then you know sci-fi is something I run away from (fast). However, the time-travel element won me over, so I opened the first page and just hoped they didn’t bamboozle me with too much tech-talk.
And, they didn’t. Mostly, anyway. That isn’t to say this book isn’t filled with imaginative genius, because it pretty much is (in my opinion). More that the genius is there at just the right level and description that it didn’t bog down my reading pace or stall my brain. And that pacing in here? Man, it’s just quite awesome. Usually, with sci-fi, fantasy, anything that requires too much brain power on my behalf, can take me DAYS!!!!! to read. Extracted took me only 2.somethingsmall, thanks to the great action after action after action that is this book. Seriously.
The opening chapter boots us from one end to the other with its kicka$$ speed and content, and every following chapter did exactly the same. I’d expected the pace and action to slow once we’d been suckered in, which is what usually happens, but with Extracted, the reader barely has time to breathe.
To be honest, for the first 40%-ish of the book, I did wonder where it was all going. Because we have two POVs, Lex and Ember, who are on opposing ‘sides’, and for a while, it seems as though we’re spending a little time with each of them in random scenes, with random mini-adventures, with no apparent connection. It didn’t bother or frustrate me, though, as I trusted in the authors to be giving me something relevant rather than Lala-Land waffle, and trying to figure out how it would all weave together was a truly enjoyable challenge. But I didn’t figure it all out—which isn’t a bad thing, because that just made the AHA! moment all the greater. I mean, dude! I really, really, really didn’t see it coming. And I love when a book pulls that off.
Okay, so I realise like it probably seems like I’m waffling mindlessly, but this is a very hard review to write without giving any spoilers away, so maybe I should just natter about the characters and whatnot instead.
Lex. I loved Lex. From the off. He’s cool, he’s hawt, he’s tough, and he gives a damn. Great, great, GREAT believable MC, who makes that insta-connection I love in characters pretty darn easy.
Ember. So … imagine Lex … but a female version. Yeah, I think that sums her up. So, win number 2 on the character front, then.
Ethan. Le sigh. Okay, so I loved Lex. BUT I fancied the freaking pants off Ethan (which probably makes me kind of a lech considering my age, but we won’t discuss that *cough*). He’s as headstrong as Lex but with slightly (and only slightly) less attitude.
Stein. She’s hot and kicka$$ in an arrogant yet almost sexy kind of way. She certainly seems to be perceived as sexy to other characters—whatever their gender. I’d love to see more of that oozing from the page in the following books so I can feel it slightly more, too. And I want some of that pizzazz back that I felt between her and Lex that was there before … um … ‘something’ happened. *shifty eyes*
Around those, we have Kara (yeah, um, I had her number), and Nobel (loved this dude—so cool), and all of the lesser mentioned part of the team but no less colourful. Plus, we had the bigwigs who kind of preside over them all—each side as seemingly control-freaky as the other, in their own way, so it was difficult for a while to figure out whose team, exactly, the reader should be batting for. And I loved how everything in here ties in to actual history. I’ll admit, AS I read the book, I had no idea who Tesla was ‘based’ on (I failed history at school—no joke), but I’d read the author blurb on the front cover that mentioned about the book rewriting history (or words to that effect) and so wondered over it, and then in the back of the book amongst the authors notes, the history references are explained. It’s also pretty easy to Google the history behind the premise of this book. I didn’t need that to make the story credible to me, but it certainly made it a whole lot cooler.
So, what about the plot? Well, as I already mentioned above that there didn’t seem to be a solid plot for a while, even though there is just something about the expert way in which its written that reassures you it’s coming, you just have to be patient. And I loved the plot. I love the ‘hinted at’ possibility of a certain someone that could (translate: most probably will) spill over into the next book and make a reappearance like a dodgy Terminator. And I loved all the twists and turns, the actions, the reveals … yeah, it’s a cool story, for sure.
The only gripes I have are in the consistency of the writing. There were times when the writing was really quite brilliant, times when the writing was okay, and times when the writing stumbled my reading flow slightly. But when it was brilliant, it was very brilliant, and I wanted to see more of that brilliance and a little less of the stumbling—especially during the very high action scenes. Because there were a good few scenes in there that I couldn’t follow. Now, admittedly, that might have been in part due to me and my personal struggles with sci-fi and whatnot, but an action scene is an action scene, and I had more than one occasion when I couldn’t place characters’ positions, or how far away certain things/people were, or … well, you get the picture. And I’m a clarity girl—I need it if I’m going to read with complete ease. Also, there were a few occasions where actions were duplicated. I don’t mean, the same action verb was used repetitively. I mean, I counted at least 3/4 occasions where a character would hand something to another character (for example), and then a few paragraphs later, they would hand over, again, the very thing they’d already handed over. However, this was an uncorrected proof that I read, so those errors may well have been caught before this goes to print, but it did trip my flow. So, these couple of bugbears of mine are responsible for the lack of star, because if I’d gone the entire read without confusion, I’d have coloured myself wowed (considering the genre/s), and this would have been an easy 5 stars.
So to sum up: historically fun, imaginatively brilliant, with action and action and more action, with great characterisation, Extracted is a mightily woven tale that should earn itself a spot on many a time-travel lovers bookcase, and I, for one, am very much looking forward to book 2.
And to sum it up in one word: Cool!