Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rebellion, by Stephanie Diaz

In Stephanie Diaz's Extraction, sixteen-year-old Clementine is chosen to live among the elite, in the underground city apart from the surface.  She revolts against the class divisions, sees through the mind control of the leaders, and joins a rebellion, which takes shape in Rebellion.  Diaz's Extraction series shares many cliches with the growing YA, dystopian, post-apocalyptic genre: stratified society, underground cities, mind controlling drugs, relentless tyrants.  Comparisons to Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising are inevitable and accurate, even obvious.  But to be fair, this style didn't start with Katniss.  I think of The City of Ember (2003), The Giver (1993), The Handmaid's Tale (1985), all continuing a tradition dating back to George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, to Plato and Thomas More.

So it's not completely fair to call Rebellion derivative, even if it sort of feels like it is.  Diaz's hero Clem is really interchangeable with Katniss and Beatrice.  In Rebellion, Clem attempts to subvert the plans of her arch-enemy Charlie by fomenting rebellion.  Her attempt to conceal her identity is uncovered, and she once again has to rebel against Charlie's mind-control drug.  She proves herself willing to make sacrifices for the ones she loves, and must prove herself strong enough to resist the control Charlie wields.

Rebellion picks up the action immediately after the end of Extraction.  Fans of these first two books will be pleased/disappointed to know that Rebellion is quite the cliffhanger; book 3 won't come soon enough!  Diaz writes the action well, and Rebellion is fast read, but it didn't just grab me.  I have not read Extraction.  Diaz fills in the story well enough for me to have an idea of what's going on, but I have the feeling of starting a novel in the middle.  My recommendation: read Extraction first.

Diaz's style is heavy on the teen girl's mind, light on the sci-fi, which is appropriate for her target audience.  I had a hard time accepting the young people in the story being as decisive, wise, and capable as they were.  I admit, I'm a middle-aged sci-fi fan, but I was 16 once, too.  I also felt like the world Diaz creates wasn't very believable.  It seemed to have no infrastructure or depth, like a stage play or something.  Subjectively, given my reaction to Rebellion, I would give it a three-star rating, "It was OK."  But taking into account the target audience and the fact that I haven't read Extraction, four stars it is.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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