The Extinction Trials: Exile

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Extinction Trials. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Extinction Trials: Exile was written by S.M. Wilson and first published in 2018. It forms the second part of The Extinction Trials series, following the continuing adventures of Stormchaser and Lincoln as they are forced to return to the dinosaur-infested wilderness of Piloria. The story carries on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Stormchaser managed to survive her mission to Piloria and win vital medical care for Lincoln, Kronar and Rune’s families. She knows that she should be happy about that, but something still eats at her. Although the dinosaurs were terrifying, she feels guilty for the role that she played in developing a virus to wipe them out. Much to her surprise, she also finds that she misses Piloria. Returning to the drab and overpopulated Ambulus City is stifling and she yearns for the leafy forests of the dinosaur continent.

Lincoln also has reasons for wanting to return to Piloria. He brought a small pot of Blaine’s ointment back with him which seems to hold the key to curing the blistering plague and saving his sister. Unfortunately, the plants needed to create it do not grow in Earthasia. If only there was some way that he could get back to Piloria to get the samples that he needs to mass produce it.

The chance comes sooner than he could have imagined. The virus has been engineered in record time and the Stipulators decide that the best people to plant it are the survivors of the first trial. Stormchaser, Lincoln and Leif are forced to put their differences aside as they once again face off against the world’s deadliest predators. However, this time they are not alone. The Council have learned that Reban Don is Storm’s father and have exiled him to Piloria. If Storm fails, she knows that the Stipulators will not let her return and she will be forced to live out her days with the man who once tried to kill her…

Before I begin, I would just like to make it clear that I don’t think that Exile is a bad book. Not by a long shot. If you enjoyed The Extinction Trials, there is a very good chance that you’ll enjoy this too. However, I personally didn’t find the story as satisfying as its prequel. My biggest problem with it is that it’s really just more of the same.

The structure of Exile closely mirrors that of the original novel. Over half of the story is set on Earthasia, following Storm and Lincoln in alternating chapters as they return to their normal lives. This part of the story was a little on the slow side, as it really just provided a lengthy build up to their return to Piloria. It quickly proved to be a bit repetitive as it took over two-hundred pages just to set each character’s motivation for returning.

The second half of the story is, once again, divided into shorter sections to detail the trip to Piloria and every day on the dinosaur continent. The only real difference this time is the reason for their mission. In The Extinction Trials, the characters were sent to steal dinosaur eggs. This time, they are sent to visit the same species to plant a vial of the virus in each of their respective waterholes.

I must admit that I was expecting a little more. While this book raises a number of questions, it does not answer any of them. The abrupt creation of the virus seems suspicious, yet we never find out if it works. The Stipulators (particularly Silas) seem to be up to something, but we don’t find out what. There are hints that the blistering plague can be cured, but this is never confirmed. I’m not sure how long this series is going to be, but Exile certainly felt as though it was a middle novel. It reminded me a lot of Catching Fire in that it was really a rehash of the first book’s story, existing purely to set the stage of the final instalment.

Even the dinosaurs get pushed to one side in this book. While I criticised The Extinction Trials for lacking in excitement, this time there were only a few brief scenes of dinosaur tension. This was a bit of a shame, as Storm and Lincoln’s encounters with dinosaurs were probably my favourite parts of The Extinction Trials. The attacks in this book, though few and far between, can also be very exciting. My favourite was their encounter with the dilophosaurus, as this was suitably violent and terrifying. However, a lot of the encounters this time just felt a bit rushed, resolving themselves before they had a chance to build any tension. The climax of the novel is particularly guilty of this, as the T-Rex’s one appearance carried none of the thrill and splendour that it did the first book.

The novel also ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. While this does kind of wrap up this stage of the story, it still left almost every question raised by this book unanswered. For me, the largest mystery is how smart the dinosaurs are. While their intelligence was hinted at in the previous novel, in the raptors putting out a fire and the T-Rex pursuing her eggs across miles of forest, it isn’t really addressed at all in this one. Perhaps the ethical issue of wiping out the dinosaurs would have carried more weight if the creatures had not been portrayed as being entirely savage.

Yet, for all my issues, Exile’s strongest aspect is its characters. This instalment really expands the themes of family and forgiveness, showing just how far Lincoln will go (and what horrors he will face) to save Arta. It also spends a lot of time fleshing out Storm’s feelings towards Reban, forcing both of them to confront past hurts and decide where they want their relationship to go. Some of the scenes between them are very moving, especially the ones in which Reban tells Storm about her mother.

However, the characters still have some issues. I felt that the dialogue in Exile felt a little choppy in places, especially when the characters were angry, and this in turn made them feel a bit too robotic. I also grew a bit frustrated with Storm, as she has developed a habit of freezing whenever she sees a dinosaur. While this is understandable given her experiences with the carnivores, it was still annoying to see how many times she had to be rescued by Lincoln or Reban. She seemed really capable in the last book and I would have liked to see her have more chance to hold her own.

Anyhow, that’s about all that I have to say. While Exile is still an enjoyable book, I just didn’t think it did enough to set itself apart from The Extinction Trials. I still intend to continue with this series, as I hope that the next book will feel a little more fresh and original.

The Extinction Trials: Exile can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Extinction Trials: Rebel | Arkham Reviews

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