Aya’s city runs on fame, and she’s desperate to find a story to send out over her personal feed in order to crack the top 1,000 and get all her heart desires.
Extras is a follow up to Scott Westerfeld’s acclaimed trilogy: Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, which follow Tally Youngblood through a series of escalating body and mind modifications that basically turn her into a superhero.
Aya lives in a post-Tally world where celebrity is capital and fame is measured by who’s talking about you, no matter what they’re saying–kind of like the blogosphere. The comparison seems intentional. Everyone in Aya’s city has their own feed, and their ranking is generated by the ranking of the people talking about them. Get mentioned by someone famous, and your rank rises. Get into the top 1000, and the city rewards you by letting you have whatever you want.
At the top of the story, Aya’s rank is in the low 400,000s. She’s looking for a story to “kick,” so she sneaks around the city with her hovercam Moggle in tow, filming everything she sees and does. She’ll then edit the footage into a story, while leaving her raw footage in a background layer, as is standard kicker protocol. That way, people have something to use when they talk about you.
Aya stumbles upon a group calling themselves the Sly Girls, who have discovered a new and highly underground form of extreme sport: using their magnetic hoverboards to hitch rides on the super-high-speed trains that leave the city. Imagine surfing on the wing of a fighter pilot–that’s what these girls are doing. It’s a cool story, sure to get Aya some attention. Trouble is, the Sly Girls are obsessed with anonymity. Their leader changes names every time her rank rises, trying to keep herself as close to a million as possible. Kicking this story will require all of Aya’s skills and stealth. And then the discovery of what appears to be a cache of underground weapons on the outskirts of the city changes the game for everyone.
Aya isn’t as strong a protagonist as Tally Youngblood, but this is still a fun, compelling adventure story and a nice postscript to the Uglies trilogy. The book comes out in the US on October 2nd.