Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival.
Welcome to the Extinction Trials.
In Stormchaser and Lincoln's ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.
But in a land full of monsters - human and reptilian - they can't afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other...
On the cover of the book it says The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park and I'm always wary of that kind of marketing but in the case of this book, by the time I got to the end of it, I thought that was pretty accurate. Now that makes a change! The idea of elements of two books I really enjoyed being added to an expedition where people will die had me interested from when I first saw it, along with that gorgeous cover. What you can't see about it in a photo is that it has this reptile snakeskin look to it which I like. I was concerned that it wouldn't live up to my expectations but thankfully it did.
Stormchaser is an orphan who lives in a cramped building, deliberatly failing tests at school, which is compulsory one day a week, so she can keep the manual labour job that she prefers to working in labs or other buildings. She has two friends-Dell, who tries to look out for her, and a plesiosaur called Milo who once saved her life. Swimming with Milo is the one good thing in her life. Lincoln has a sister who is sick with a plague that the government don't care to cure, seeing it as an answer to the over-population issue of Earthasia. Resources and space are dwindling and his family have been moved into the caves where she will deteriorate and die, unless he can get her medical help that they are not entitled to.
The government of Earthasia have turned their attention to making Piloria their home. It is a continent that is lush, green and full of resources and would be the answer to Earthasia's problems. The only problem is that it is populated by dinosaurs and previous expeditions have killed most of the people on them, giving them a limited map to work with. Now a new expedition is planned, to steal the dinosaur eggs and allow Earthasia scientists to use the DNA for a bioweapon to kill the dinosaurs. As before, each district runs a series of trials to find the people best suited to the task ahead and 100 will be chosen for the trip. Anyone who manages to bring back an egg of the predator species wins more food, a house of their own and more medical supplies.
Storm and Dell enter the trials to get a few days of extra food rations, but Storm realises that she is quite good at the trials and wonders what Piloria would be like. However, she is not comfortable with wiping out the dinosaurs with a weapon as she knows that some, like Milo are harmless. If chosen, can she really go through with the mission? Could she steal the eggs and hand them over to Reban Don to annihilate a whole species? Lincoln has his sister's life at stake and he will do anything to get on the Piloria expedition so he can win the medical help for her, and a better life for his mother. What is he prepared to do to win? The first part of the book is focused on the trials and selection for the expedition, and this was entertaining to read about as I like that kind of thing in a book. The second part is the journey to Piloria which is far from straightforward. The third is the actual expedition and then there is the events after returning to Earthasia which have a nice couple of twists!
I really liked the characters in the book. I can understand Lincoln's motivations and the reasons that he wants to find allies, knowing that a team have a better chance against dinosaurs than just an individual. He looks to Storm first, having seen her swim in the water with Milo, but is unsure about trusting Dell. He then looks to Rune, Kronar and Leif, who are from a different district and all look capable. I liked these guys from the start. Storm does not get off to a good start with Lincoln when he accidently injures her in a trial, and even though he helps her, she is rude and dismissive to him. It did annoy me but thankfully that passes quickly by the time the trials end.
Then there are the bad guys. Reban Don is in charge of Storm's district and is the face of the local administration, the man who makes announcements and decisions. He is unpleasant and feared, and seems to have a real dislike of Storm who had only met him once before the trials. Galen is also a very dangerous individual who wants to win at any cost even if it means murdering his competition and he takes an instant dislike to Lincoln. These are the characters that you sort of love to hate through the book and it was a good contrast to the those that I liked on the expedition.
I'm not going to talk about anything else that happens in the book as that would spoil things for anyone planning to read it. All I can say is that the action on Piloria with the dinosaurs is great, with lots of tense scenes and action. My favourite dinosaurs all feature-megalodon, T Rex, raptors and pterosaurs. The action involving each is exciting and there are other dinosaurs I was not as familiar with who I wouldn't want to meet. I liked the whole trip to Piloria and the surprises that come from it, which adds another layer to the plot that is explored firther in the second book, which I've already read. I enjoyed the trials themselves and I found the whole plot after the expedition unexpected and quite exciting. It leaves things nicely set up for the second book and leaves it in a very interesting place.
I don't read much YA these days due to the dreadful tropes espexcially love triangles and instaluv. Thankfully there is none of that in this book. There is a connection between Storm and Lincoln but it is not really explored in the book, leaving the expedition as the main focus. That is the kind of YA I like. I'm certainly glad that I picked this series up and I'm already looking forward to seeing what happens in the third book as I have no idea what direction the plot is headed. There is plenty action mixed in with good character development and I liked the changing POV between Lincolm and Storm, as it lets us get right into their heads and see the dilemma that each have over the mission.
If you like dinosaurs and action based YA like The Hunger Games and The Testing, hopefully you will like this.
Read May 2018.