The Extinction Trials

The Extinction Trials

S. M. Wilson

Usborne Publishing 2018

I was a little perturbed when I discovered the local bookclub that I had just joined had chosen a YA novel as its first book. After all, it has been nigh on 35 years since I read one.

However, a few pages in to ‘The Extinction Trials’ by S M WIlson made me kick those doubts into touch. I was soon transported to a dystopian world, over populated and struggling with a plague – which, given that I had just watched our own pandemic enter a second year, added an extra touch of empathy to the characters. A world becoming dangerously close to using all its resources, ruled by sinister authorities known as Stipulators. On the other side of the world lays the possible answer to their problems; a vast continent called Piloria with forests and plains, food and vegetation, and space to expand. The only issue with this continent; it is home to dinosaurs.

Billed as ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘Jurassic Park’, S M WIlson blends the horror and despair of the contemporary with the action and terror of the land of the dinosaurs. Fast paced and action packed, the story hurtles along with not a page wasted. 

The whole ground trembled as she thundered past. Every tree, every bush shook, dirt jumping from the earth next to him. His breath caught halfway up his throat, every hair on his arms stood on end and his heart thudded against his chest.

The two main characters, Stormchaser Knux and Lincoln Kreft are pushed towards qualifying for the Trials, a competition to find the strongest and most able candidates to travel to Piloria and complete a mission given to them by the Stipulators. Both are incredibly strong willed characters, constantly pushed out of their comfort zones and at times, competing against each other. 

Lincoln must return successful from Piloria in order to save his sick sister (health care is one of the awards given to those that please the Stipulators, though a subtle twist brings more stress to the Finalists.) whilst Storm wants to understand the creatures of Piloria, having secretly befriended a peaceful plesiosaur within the bay of Ambulus City. Not only to understand the creatures but to uncover the secrets that the Stipulators are hiding, their knowledge of Piloria and the dinosaurs, and their plans for both.

Overall, the characters are compelling, facing elements of betrayal from within their camp and from outside, and struggles against the very environment they look to conquer. The ending isn’t what you’d expect either, wrapping everything up but also leaving enough questions that need answering to entice you towards Books 2 and 3. 

Despite not being the target audience (I know authors don’t generally care what section of society their readers come from!) I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book, and the sequels, would definitely have been on my teenage book shelf in years gone by – all those many moons ago.

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