Evelyn Smith is unhappy with her life. It's hot and boring in the Lowers where she lives and she is desperate to get out. But the only way to get out is to be cast as an Extra in one of the four productions. Extras who are cast get to stay in the Uppers, where all the rich and famous people live. At least, that's what The Company, the people responsible for casting the productions, tells them. After scamming her way into what she thinks will be a better life by assuming a new identity, Evelyn, now Jane, begins work on the action production as a stand-in for Lana, one of the most famous actresses in the Uppers. But Jane soon finds out that the grass is not always greener in the clouds. Lana is sadistic and cruel and The Company's lies start to reveal themselves in horrific ways.
Jane eventually becomes part of the resistance, a piecemeal band of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and humans. Their goal: over throw their sadistic ruler, Ronald Beaten, destroy The Company and stop the killing. Throughout her journey, Jane meets and falls in love with Lincoln, the broken, drug addicted husband of Lana. As their relationship develops, they find that they both need each other in different ways, and if they are going to survive they have to work as a team to lead the resistance and save the Extras. Jane's world is about get a whole lot bigger and she'll soon realize that the human experience, something the Extras are denied in the Lowers, is a lot more complicated than she realizes.
The Extras by Erin Carroll is both a dystopian novel but also a look at our current world through a lens. A lens that is dystopian in nature, but also in some ways the barest look at our world.
The book’s set in a world where the lower class is its lowest. “The Company” gives the lowers their clothing, food, and everything else. They are not to have relationships with or really even communicate with each other. All this time they look up to see the uppers, a literal island above their heads in the clouds. This is where their movies come from, this is where those lucky enough, get to be extras.
Throughout every young child’s life, they are told about how if you are good, and get picked, you can become an extra. An extra is someone who gets to move from the lowers to the uppers to be part of a movie. That also means they will get a house, money, and get to live in the uppers. This is a story about rags to riches, and all of those in rags want to be in riches.
Evelyn is sick and tired of being part of the lowers and so by scamming herself in, she succeeds. She also changes her name, and helps herself become a leading double. She becomes is a double for Lana herself. Lana is one of the wealthiest and well-known stars in the Uppers. Her husband of course is the leading male star.
Jane soon discovers that being an extra isn’t what The Company makes it out to be, if anything it is the exact opposite. It does not take long for Jane to either team up with renegades or become part of the problem. Jane realizes that sometimes those who you think are your friends may be the farthest thing from it. The beings once of nightmares, becomes Jane only hope.
From the tone of the book and the fact that the leader’s name is “Ronald Beaten” who just so happens to be a blowhard that has orangish skin and a bad toupe/hair job. Yeah, you heard that right. Since the 2016 election, there have been a lot of books that have to do with the perceived way the United States is either changing or how it could change.
Obviously this is a fictional book. However, disparities in power do occur. This book portrayal this disparity wonderfully. When the disparity between the haves and the have-nots become such that the have-nots’ lives are worth nothing more than a cows. When that happens, those that have the money also hold the power, the complete power. Large amounts power is, at times, good. However, when greedy and cruel are in positions of power, the results are seldom good.
This is both a fun and cautionary tale. We should take this has what would happen if we allow those who are wealthy to have complete power over life and death. I really enjoyed this story. I think it is partially because it does have a little politics involved. It also goes from your rich v. poor to a paranormal story about half way through.