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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Review: Extracted: The Lost Imperials Book One by Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler H. Jolley

I have never had amnesia. I did pass out once from receiving a kick ball to the gut, but there has never been a time when I didn't know who I was. I had special abilities, as a child. I could see the rain when no one else could because it was see through. For the most part, though, I can't remember anything before the age of 7 other than a few faint memories, like gossamer, elusive. Just the shadows of memories, really. The memories that are more solid are those that have been told to me over and over again by my family. I remember the stories clearly, made real by the constant retelling, but it is not a truth to me. I can't feel myself in those stories. It is as if they happened to someone else.

I do wonder, though, if I met my younger self, would I recognize myself in her? If I had the opportunity to say anything to her, what would it be? What type of warning might I give or word of caution? Is there anything I would try to say or do in that moment that would change who I would become? Would I tell myself not to wear that square dancing skirt to school? To not let my stepfather trim my hair? To practice the guitar more? To choose my friends more wisely? To invest in Intel? Would I have wanted to know what I was going to become, what life had in store for me? If I knew then would I try to change it?

Time. Is it an onion skin? a stream? a vortex? Is it wibbly wobbly? Can you travel through time by car? Or police box?

Time is fluid, unpredictable. Mastery over it would be alluring, powerful and man has ever been in pursuit of the idea of travelling through time. There have been books about it, TV shows and movies about it, but will it ever be a reality? And should it be? What would you do if you had all of time at a snap of your fingers?

Book Description (From Amazon):
Welcome to the war. The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it. The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens--their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream. Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war. When Lex's girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Telsa Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It's there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both again.

My Review:
World's Fair. Lex is waiting. He's not alone. There are others with him. Hollows they call themselves. They're on a mission. To steal the plans for a solar panel device. It's 1893. The Hollows have slipped through time to steal them. A seemingly simple job turns into a rumble when the Tesla kids arrive. Their mission. To prevent the Hollows from stealing the plans.

I was drawn in from the very first sentence.

"We've never formally been introduced to the students from the Tesla Institute, mostly because every time we meet, things go from zero to face punch too quickly for small talk."

It's smack down between the Hollows and the Tesla kids!!! Two rival groups travelling the time stream at cross purposes. The Hollows are chaotic. They seem to revel in disrupting the time stream. The Tesla Institute keeps order, protecting the time stream. Where the Hollows go, the Tesla kids follow maintaining order.

There are rules to time travel. Time is fluid, but there are some moments in time that are fixed points. They happen because they have always happened. There is no changing history then. Don't travel to a point in time that you've already travelled to. Don't travel to the same point repeatedly even with different crews. Don't travel the time stream without having an anchor to an exit point.  And for the sake of all, if you meet yourself in time, do not make physical contact with your other self!!!

The Hollows and the Tesla Institute are complete opposites. The Hollows reside in Wardenclyffe Tower. It is rundown and dirty. The Hollows themselves are not well off. They are a ragged, motley crew led by a man called Claymore who hides behind a divers helmet which he never takes off. He talks via an arrivals / departure board where he gives instruction on where the Hollows are going and when as well as their objective. His right hand man is a man called Gloves who is confined to a wheelchair with a locomotive engine. The Hollows travel through time by swallowing a pill that has the destination coded within as well as the code to return home.

The Tesla Institute are very organized. The live in a clean well kept building. The kids study history and train. They have several tests to pass, but their final test is to rift alone.  If they pass, they will be a full fledged rifter. If they fail, they will be left somewhere else. The Tesla Institute is led by a projected computer image of Tesla himself. His brain is preserved and linked to the computer. He watches the time stream and calculates all the tiny ripples to determine disturbances in the time stream. He can follow those ripples and see the myriad of possibilities that one tiny ripple can cause. Because of this, he can predict where and when the Hollows will strike and try to prevent them from achieving their goal. Tesla is absolute. Trust Tesla. He is watching everything, everywhere within the institute and he is communicating to each rifter when they are on a mission, guiding them, instructing them, giving them commands. The Tesla kids travel the time stream by a tether which keeps them anchored in the time stream and allows them to return home.

All the rifters, whether bent towards order or chaos, share a specific condition.  The first trip through the time stream rips away any identity of self, of memories, of everything. When the rifter emerges from the time stream that first time, their past is wiped away and they become a clean slate having to build a new life and a new personality. None of the rifters know who they were, where they come from or when they come from.

Ember, our perspective character from the Tesla Institute, is having nightmares involving fire and she is trying to protect someone, although she doesn't know who. She comes to understand these are memories from here life before the Institute, but she can't make sense of them. She keeps the knowledge to herself because if they found out, she would have the memories suppressed and she wants to know who she was.

Lex is a bit of a scrapper. He's tough, not really an emotional guy, but he is fiercely loyal to his friends and protects those he cares about. He's a thief, as are all the Hollows. He doesn't seem to remember anything from his past, but he keeps a collection of bottle caps in his pocket, brought with him through time.

The two groups are enemies, one disrupting and one trying to preserve the time stream. And so it would continue if the two groups didn't collide in a cataclysmic moment that brings past and present slamming together that will alter the course of the future for both Hollows and the Tesla Institute as well as all mankind.

I really loved this story. It kept me up at night and if I wasn't reading, I was thinking about what I read. This was also a rare book in that I could actually discuss it with hubby. He tends to read thick, dry, boring history books and then proceed to lecture me about what he's been reading. I have always had a fascination with history, but I prefer living history. I like to go see where events transpired, to try to put myself in the shoes of the people who walked the same path I was walking.

This story has so much to offer; mystery, history, action, adventure, danger and romance.

Who are the Ember and Lex? For that matter, who are any of the characters or who were they before? I wanted to find out. That puzzle alone kept me going and I couldn't put it down.

The story is rich with history and historical figures. To start, Tesla is one of the main supporting characters. I found myself trying to guess who was going to show up. Many of the historical references were events I already had a passing familiarity with and an interest in, so I wanted to keep reading to find out more and how it all tied together. I must also confess, that after I finished this book, I looked up Nicola Tesla and was amazed at what I found out about him.

For those of you who like a good fight scene (I know I do. That's what got me into watching Ice Hockey.), there are plenty of fists thrown to satisfy the adrenaline junky.  There is danger as well, not only from the very real possibility of getting lost in the time stream, but also from the risk to time itself by changing the course of events.  And let's not forget about the possibility of a time paradox where time would unravel.

The story even has romance, but it is not a romance story.  It is a story with romantic elements that make it all that much stronger and emotional as a story. And yes, there are moments to swoon over.

In the end, I found I was craving to read the next installment which I am told may not be until 2015.

For those of you who like adventure stories with history, time travel and romance thrown in,  do yourself a favor and pick up this book.  I've travelled through time and I can tell you that you are not going to regret it.

The book release date is November 12th and stay tuned for the Extracted Book Blog tour.  My stop on the tour is scheduled for November 7th.

See you then!

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