Friday, May 4, 2018

The extinction trials by S.M. Wilson

Stormchaser lives on Earthasia, a continent straining under the massive human population that is always increasing.  With resources stretched thin it is no surprise that there is a shortage of food, medical care, and housing.  Storm lives in the Shelters, housing for teenagers orphaned and left alone, and as long as she follows the rules she gets the bare basics to survive - a roof over her head and just enough food to keep her from starving.  Every year an expedition is sent from Earthasia to the neighbouring continent of Piloria, a land rich with food and space - the only catch is that it is also inhabited by ferocious flesh eating dinosaurs.  

Death is almost guaranteed for the one hundred volunteers who complete the Trials and travel to Piloria, but that doesn't stop people from trying to get there as the rewards are great.  This year the winner will get enough food for themselves and their family, and access to medical care.  For Storm the promise of food is what draws her to the Trials, even though she only plans to take part and not win, she will have several days where she gets enough to eat.  For Lincoln there is no playing the game, he has to win because his sister Arta is dying from an illness that has already killed too many people. 

When they both beat the odds and make it through the Trials it is only the start of their troubles, because the trip to Piloria can be deadly and the dinosaurs that seemed scary on paper are terrifying in real life.  As Storm and Lincoln work alongside their fellow Trialists they slowly learn that there is more to the Trials than they suspected, and that nothing is what it seems.  Storm doesn't want to see the dinosaurs wiped out, and she doesn't trust that the Stipulators will just focus on the dangerous dinosaurs, but she has to play their game if she is going to save herself.

The extinction trials has been described in one review as "The hunger games meets Jurassic Park" and I can't help but feel that is something of a disservice for this intriguing and highly readable book as I know it has put off at least one reader who doesn't like to read dystopian reads which is a real shame because The extinction trials was a real treat!  Told from the different viewpoints of Storm and Lincoln, the story builds from a relatively straight forward story about two teenagers trying to survive to a story about social control, how people are manipulated by people in power, and that nothing is really what it seems.  

Storm and Lincoln are both highly relateable characters, as are the people who inhabit their lives in one way or another.  The story is well balanced, with the action and plot building towards a satisfying conclusion (that also leaves you wanting the next book in the series).  One of the most intriguing things for me about this series is wondering which direction the author is going as there are hints that it is in the alternate history genre, and it could also be in the science fiction genre, and maybe even a fantasy genre ... it will be interesting to see where it goes!  This is one of the best reads for me this year so far, and it deserves to be discovered and read because it will appeal to a wide range of readers.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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