The Extinction Trials: Rebel

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Extinction Trials | The Extinction Trials: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Rebel was written by S.M Wilson and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of Stormchaser and Lincoln, as humans are forced to populate Piloria for the first time. The novel forms the final part of The Extinction Trials trilogy, following on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

For six months, Stormchaser and Reban have been forced to work together to survive in the jungles of Piloria. Although the viruses seem to have wiped out the tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls, it has had the reverse effect on the raptors. These creatures seem to be growing more powerful by the day – larger, faster and dangerously intelligent. It takes all of Storm and Reban’s skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly predators.

Meanwhile on Earthsia, Lincoln’s kindness has had terrible consequences. The plants that he brought back from Piloria have saved everyone from the blistering plague. However, it soon becomes clear that this disease was the only thing controlling the population. Now, there are too many mouths to feed and not even the Stipulators have the power to quell the riots.

Loading up the last two boats with a collection of politicians and labourers, the humans have no choice but to take their chances on Piloria. However, most people are completely unprepared for life on the dinosaur continent. It will take all of Storm and Lincoln’s skills to educate the frightened survivors on how to live in the savage lands. However, Silas still struggles to keep his position of power. The former Chief Stipulator has other ideas about how they must survive, ones that could have fatal consequences…

If you’ve read my previous reviews of The Extinction Trials series, you will already know that my relationship with it are a bit rocky. It’s a bit difficult to put my finger on exactly what my problem is but I think that in itself is part of the problem. The books could be great. They have a unique concept and really do live up to the blurb’s claim that the series is a cross between Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games. Yet they could have been so much more. While Rebel is undeniably a stronger novel than Exile, I was ultimately left very disappointed by this finale.

Unlike the previous instalments of this series, Rebel is very fast to find its feet and did not quite follow the same pattern as The Extinction Trials and Exile. The third person narrative is still split between the perspectives of Stormchaser and Lincoln, and therefore is a great way of setting the scene. In Storm’s chapters, we get to see how the virus has made the raptors a far bigger threat. In Lincoln’s, we see society on Earthasia rapidly imploding, leading the lucky few to flee unprepared to Piloria. Where the raptors await…

I really did like this opening as it cut away a lot of the unnecessary preamble. One of the biggest issues that I had with the first two books in the series is that they had virtually the same plot. In The Extinction Trials, the protagonists spent half of the book preparing to go to Piloria and steal predator eggs. In Exile, they spent half of the book preparing to go to Piloria and plant viruses near predator nests. The riots in Earthasia added a sense of urgency, streamlining the proceedings. While the result was the same, it meant that we got to spend a lot longer on the dinosaur continent. Which unfortunately lead to my biggest problem with Rebel.

While The Extinction Trials and Exile are both very slow-burning, Rebel takes things to the very opposite extreme. Everything in this story just felt rushed, as though it would have been better taking more time and dividing the plot between two books. The novel largely sidestepped every loose end left by Exile. We don’t really find out if the viruses work, beyond the fact that we don’t see any tyrannosaurs so assume that they must have. We don’t really follow up on the suspiciousness of the Stipulators’ behaviour either. While they seemed to be scheming in the previous instalment, this time they seem to be losing more and more authority by the second. Even setting up the camp is remarkably easy. Despite the fact that the settlers know virtually nothing about Piloria, they seem to construct solar panels, electric fences and even internal plumbing with remarkable ease.

The other thing that struck me about this story was the incredible lack of dinosaurs. While the settlers certainly do have the odd encounter with some impressive dinosaurs, such as quetzalcoatlus and spinosaurus, the absence of the large predators is certainly felt within the story. In previous instalments, Piloria could be brutal. People did not even set foot on the continent before aquatic reptiles and megalodon were picking them off. While Rebel always felt as though it was building to something big, I was disappointed to find that this never amounted to anything.

I won’t talk a lot about the climax because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will just say that it was disappointing. There is no big obstacle to overcome or dinosaur to outwit. Ultimately, all problems within the settlement are resolved through words. The lack of a final threat – or any kind of comeuppance for the one character that is close to being a villain – was really unsatisfying. We ultimately don’t even find out how villainous Silas even is. While the protagonists wonder if he is trying to get them killed off at various points in the story, the novel ultimately left this a bit ambiguous. This, in turn, didn’t do anything but make me feel rather apathetic regarding the ending.

While I praised the protagonists in the early instalments, I did not gravitate to them as freely this time around as they just felt a little distant. I think that part of the problem was that Storm and Lincoln aren’t really in opposition any more. In previous instalments, the two of them had polarising political views and feelings towards the dinosaurs. However, after a lot of debate, its clear that Lincoln has mostly come around to Storm’s way of thinking. After the opening few chapters, they are largely always together and so it felt a tad unnecessary to show both of their perspectives. While the gradual evolution of Storm and Reban’s relationship was nice to see, most of the other characters faded into the background as their contributions this time around are heavily reduced.

There was also no real sense of threat from the Stipulators, as the riots on Earthasia almost instantly strip them of all power. While Silas talked big and always seemed to be on the verge of doing something, it never came to anything. I couldn’t really understand how he managed to cling to power as long as he did. Silas did not seem to have anything to offer his supporters – no wisdom or useful transferable skills. As it was previously established that the general populous hated the Stipulators, it’s odd how they supported him vehemently for a majority of this novel.

Anyhow, I think that about covers everything. While Rebel was enjoyable enough and was certainly a stronger novel than Exile, it was unfortunately a lukewarm ending to the trilogy. Many subplots were ignored and the constant sense that the novel was building to something had no payoff. While I did really think that the first novel showed a lot of promise, I was unfortunately left feeling rather disappointed by this series on the whole.

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

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