My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Actual rating of 3.75 stars.
Imagine if the dinosaurs never died out. Imagine if we lived with them, today, now. This is the basis of The Extinction Trials. On one continent, Earthasia, humans live in squalid conditions, living off tasteless ‘food’ in order to survive. Everything is grey, the buildings, the cliff faces, the clothing, everything. This is where we meet Stormchaser Knux and Lincoln Kreft. Storm is a fifteen year old girl, she has no family, and two friends, one of which is a plesiosaur – a water dwelling dinosaur with a gentle nature, the other is a fifteen year old boy called Dell. She lives in shared accommodation which houses other orphans. Lincoln lives in a cave with his mother and sister, his sister has the disease that has been wiping people out for a while now, and she doesn’t have long left. Earthasia is run by stipulators, they make the rules and they enforce them. Each year the trials are run, past years it has consisted of 100 people going to the other continent – called Piloria and home to all the dinosaurs you can think of – and searching for food. This year it’s different. This year the contestants will travel to Piloria and bring back specific dinosaur eggs for research. The winner receives better housing, better food, and health care. Will Storm pass the trials and head to Piloria? Will Lincoln manage to save his sister?
I’ll admit, the reason I bought this book was for the cover. When I first saw it I just could not stop staring at it! Those colours, the artwork, ugh, beautiful. I, of course, did read the blurb, and the story sounded interesting as well, so that also partly made up my decision to purchase this book. Mainly it was the cover. So the book proclaims this to be The hunger games meets Jurassic Park. I kinda wish that it didn’t say this. Yes there are qualities from the hunger games in this story, such as the overpopulation, rationing food, failing health, all the typical tropes from a dystopian novel. But that’s it. The Hunger Games isn’t the only the story in the dystopian world of fiction, so I feel like it’s not entirely fair to compare the two, as they are quite different. As for the comparison to Jurassic Park, this is literally only made because the book has dinosaurs in it, there’s no other comparison to Jurassic Park in here. There’s no scientist who worked out how to resurrect the dinosaurs and turn them into a theme park attraction, there’s no dinosaurs breaking out of their enclosures to terrorise the visitors to the park, there’s no creepy computer guy trying to steal secrets and sell them off. It is simply because there are dinosaurs in the book that this comparison was made. So I really feel like it was wrong to compare this book with the two written on the cover. I feel like it sets people up for something and then has the high probability of letting them down. It’s like this books chance to impress is ruined before the cover is even cracked. SO GO INTO THIS COMPLETELY IGNORING THE COMPARISONS PLEASE!
The story is told from alternating POV’s of Stormchaser and Lincoln. Stormchaser has no family, is friends with a gentle giant living in the loch on Earthasia and hates school and the possibility of being sent to work in the labs. Lincoln is the buff, ‘hero’ who’s doing everything to save his sick little sister. They meet once they both decide they’re going to enter the trials. Storm and her friend dell (the human friend not the dinosaur) realise that if they participate in the trials, they get better food for the duration of them being still ‘in’, and Lincoln because he wants to win the trials over all and get healthcare for his sister who is dying. Storm has never been one to use her brains to their full potential, this is her way of sticking it to the man I guess, but once she’s in the trials her competitive edge takes over and she actually begins to try *gasp shock horror* I did find this to be believable, as before, when we first meet her, she honestly has nothing happening in her life. Her greatest joy comes from hanging out with Milo – her plesiosaur friend – she has no purpose in life AT ALL. So the fact that the trials make her feel like she has a purpose isn’t unbelievable at all. I did have to question her name though…like Storm would have been fine, I know people called Storm and I think it’s a beautiful name…but Stormchaser? That just sounded a bit TOO stereotypical dystopian YA for me. It did irk me and make me cringe when her full name was used through the story, but overall it didn’t detract much from the story itself.
Lincoln is doing everything that he can to ensure that he can save his sister. I get it. If that were me I would not give up until I’d either died or won, so I get it. At the same time, he kinda pissed me off. He went out of his way to pick allies, people who he believed could help him win, he knew all about them and their reasons for participating in the trials, but he kept everything about him a secret. This annoyed me. Trust goes both ways buddy, try it some time. He’s all about family, family comes first, they are the most important, which is true, and I do agree, but give people a chance dude. This story definitely encompasses, friendship, trust, betrayal – all of the things a dystopian novel kinda needs (in my opinion) to make it an engaging story. And engaging this story was.
I also feel that it deals with something on a deeper level. We see the conditions that the humans are living in on their continent. Overpopulation has really put a strain on their little section of the planet and it’s showing. People are dying out from a disease that they can’t stop (or maybe don’t want to stop?), there is no food but this awful tasteless slop that gives them enough nutrients to survive. There is no forests, barely any water, it is almost like looking at a warning for what could potentially happen to OUR planet should we keep ignoring the warning signals we’re being given. We see the comparisons between Earthasia and Piloria, and it’s just a great big sign of “HUMANS STOP RUINING THE PLANET” So I believe that this was a really cool underlying message in the story. As well as the whole “don’t question the stipulators” mentality that the population has. Not speaking out for fear of the repercussions that would come from those in charge of the population.
The story was fast paced, which was great. I did feel for the dinosaurs, it actually made me feel a bit anxious because I didn’t want anything awful happening to them, which is funny, because we know that the majority could kill us easily. I really tended to side with Storm in her thoughts on what was happening.
I did feel that the trials leading up to the 100 being chosen happened pretty fast, and there wasn’t a whole lot to them. Granted there’s no way I would’ve been able to pass any of them, but I felt like they need a little more depth to them maybe?
If you’re wanting to read this book for the dinosaurs, know that they do kind of take a back seat in the story, they’re just there, they are the obstacle that our characters need to overcome, and they also offer up the reason behind people questioning the stipulators reasons for doing certain things.
All in all, it was a quick, easy read, with action and decent characters. I’m interested to see what happens from here, so no doubt I’ll be picking up the rest of the books in the series to quench my curiosity.