Published on August 15, 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing
Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
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Lex and Ember--two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war--are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and memories of the tragic past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.
Time travel never sounded so good in Extracted, a tale of two Rifters able to travel through time and alter events. On opposing teams, Lex and Ember must decide if their side is worth the fight when there’s more than the security of the time stream at stake. And for a futuristic, steampunk time-travel novel, this one wasn’t half bad.
Which is meant as a total compliment because I almost always hate time travel books (something about the subject makes it quite hard to pull off).
Extracted alternates between the first-person POVs of Lex, a Hollow, and Ember, a Tesla. The two don’t actually meet face-to-face until about halfway through the book as their separate timelines continue to expand and build. I’m not too upset that the timelines didn’t come together sooner as I liked each character enough to invest interest in their separate stories.
What this book pulled off that most impressed me, though, wasn’t the back-and-forth POVs but the way time travel is explained. Every time I read one of these books, this is the point that makes it or breaks it for whatever reason. Ficklin and Jolley keep the sci-tech babble to a minimum and do offer explanations for the travel but not some long-winded “In the beginning” style description. It meant the story didn’t get bogged down in the details and more focus went to the characters (thumbs-up for me).
It took a couple chapters to adjust to the writing pattern. Each had a heading with which character’s head you read in (though I think there’s a chapter mislabeled near the end…) but after getting a few chapters under your belt, you’ll have no problem figuring it out based on the way they talk/think. The cast as a whole has solid personalities that were both similar but differing enough to make each of their stories worth reading. I think I’d have ended up as a Tesla, to be honest, if recruited as a Rifter. The more-orderly nature of their work fits.
The best part? The main characters AREN’T love interests. I know, why am I getting excited about that? Each has their own significant other throughout the whole book so it’s not like it’s lacking in romance. But anytime I read about a male and female character in the blurb for a young adult novel, you can bet I expect they end up together and 97% of the time I’m right. Extracted offers another alternative, instead, and I liked it much better because it still worked. The story didn’t rely on romance to drive the characters’ motivations.
Oppositely, the BIG REVEAL was absolutely ruined by an all-too-obvious moment of foreshadowing early on. Thankfully, it didn’t ruin the entire book but what had likely been meant as the “shock value” twist came and went without much pomp so I lost a little something from that.
Now this book is the first in a series, but if I hadn’t read the epilogue, it could almost be a standalone. There’s enough closure with the characters and plot that I felt fairly satisfied with the ending. Of course, there’s room to continue but I wasn’t getting sequel vibes until that ending chapter and it wasn’t even from the POV of Lex or Ember. Considering those are the characters I became attached to, I’m not sure if I want to read a sequel. The writing style is good; I really enjoyed getting in the heads of these characters. But after checking that the next books are from other characters’ POVs, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Every other series I’ve read that changes the main character each book has never sat well with me but maybe this series is different.
It certainly changed my mind on time travel.