Series: First of The Lost Imperials series
Ember is a Rifter. She remembers nothing of her life before Nicola Tesla recruited her to travel through time. Lex is a Hollower. They recruit the children Tesla abandons to history. When his Stein, is killed during a mission, there's only once gadget that can bring her back: the Dox, hidden deep in Tesla territory. Lex breaks into the Tesla Institute to retrieve and comes face to face with his past.
Ember and Lex are revealed to be Anastasia and Alexei Romanov. Come on, that's not a spoiler, is it? Not with "lost imperials" in the name. It's certainly fun to imagine the Romanov siblings as dirty fighting, cool hat wearing, world saving time travelers. But their identity is just another ornament. Lex being Alexei doesn't enhance the story-or his character-anymore than the fact that he owns a jester hat. There's also at least one historical error: Ember's told that the English language was implanted in her head using futuristic technology. In fact, Anastasia grew up speaking English in addition to her native Russian. A rhyming English poem by her oldest sister, Olga, is included at the back of the book, so I can't help but wonder how the authors missed this, or if they just chose to ignore it.
I know it's fiction, but Anastasia not speaking English jars me more than Anastasia being alive. But when I got past that, I loved the vivid world building. Top hats and leather vests. Katanas and killer robots. What impressed me most was that the Hollows and Tesla's Rifters have different methods of time travel. The Hollows swallow a pill that takes them to a specific destination while the Rifters use mechanical armbands called Tethers. The fight scenes are well written, and scenes we've got two authors on board, it's not hard to distinguish between two first-person narrators.
Though the way the Romanovs were used made me flinched, Extracted is overall an exciting story set in a fully fleshed out steampunk world.