Caryn's Reviews > Extras

Extras by Scott Westerfeld
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's review
Dec 13, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: youngreaderandteen, scifi
Read in December, 2007

There is an interesting arc to my appreciation of Extras.

I wasn't so sure at first. The girl on the front is obviously not Tally Youngblood, and so I was rather nervous about starting a Westerfeld book that wasn't about Tally Youngblood. But start it I did, and for the first half or so I was in young adult fiction bliss.

Extras does it all right when it comes to futuristic fiction with a bit of a social commentary. Insert Aya Fuse, a fifteen-year-old in post-mind-rain (see Specials) Japan, where they've set up the face-rank system. Your place in society is determined by your face-rank, or how much people talk about you. And poor Aya is stuck at about 400,000.

But there is hope for Aya! If she can find a story to kick, she can catapult herself into top-20,000 in no time. It's just a matter of finding that perfect kickable story.

And it lands in her lap.

The idea of a society where popularity of a feed (read: blog) is more important than how much money you make or what you wear, or what you do for a living is closer on the global horizon than you might think, in a world of YouTube and mySpace.

And of course, this makes Extras CHOCK full of neato futuristic stuff (that's a technical term). Hovercams, mag-lev trains, smart matter (matter than can transform itself at any time), wall screens, eyescreens, skintennae, hoverball rigs.

Keep in mind, this is all that first half of the book I liked.

I wanted to like the last half, really, I did. But it didn't really have an ending. Not a Scott Westerfeld ending, at least.

Other Scott Westerfeld endings had crazy turns, like (spoiler warning) Tally abandoning reason and becoming pretty, even thought it screws with your brain, or like Tally turning Special, even though it screws with your brain, or Tally not fixing her brain after she fixes everyone else's to keep things in order.

No. At the end of Extras, we learn that it was all a big misunderstanding and then go to a party.


Of course, if Scott Westerfeld writes something else to follow this one, I'll read it because I love his books, and I want him to fix this ending.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Jaleh I couldn't have said this better myself. Half way through, I actually thought this was my favorite of the "triliogy", but by the end, I felt completely let down. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Caryn thanks. I was actually so frustrated by this ending that I wrote an e-mail to Scott Westerfeld himself. No replies yet... he's busy guy, I guess.

Jaleh I have to admit, I felt like writing to Westerfeld about his ending after reading Specials. Although when I finished that book I thought Specials was the end of the trilogy and the ending just completely left me hanging. I wonder if Westerfeld always intended this series to be larger than 3 books, or if after Specials, he was so overwhelmed with mail that he decided to write more. Although I really liked the character of Aya, in Extras, I did not like the new portrayal of Tally. Tally didn't have the "hero" quality or vulnerability that I loved in the previous books. Instead she seemed cold, harsh and sometimes stupid-making. Did you sense that too?

Caryn I think I can see where the new portrayal of Tally comes from, because Extras isn't written from Tally's point of view. She's no longer the heroine, she's a terrifying person who's kind of larger than life to Aya, and I think he shows that well.

I do think that Extras probably came from a need to keep writing this world. Like, he came up with the idea for the face-rank system and felt like it was really something he needed to write, but didn't quite have it as planned as maybe he wanted to?

That's what it felt like to me... like he had this fabulous idea in his head about what people would turn to after the mind rain, and the problems that could happen with it... but didn't really get around to plotting it all out.

Did you get something like that?

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