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The Sixth Extinction (Sigma Force)
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35 of 46 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In his author's note, James Rollins acknowledges that The 6th Extinction is his tenth novel in the Sigma series. He comments, "Knowing that milestone was upon us, I thought I'd use this opportunity to tease to the past." And that he does--the way past. One of the major characters in the book harkens all the way back to Rollins' debut novel. It was a MOST unexpected reappearance!

I think with anniversaries and milestones in mind, Mr. Rollins wanted to make this installment a special one. You know how in Spinal Tap they had the amp that went up to eleven? The 6th Extinction goes up to eleven. He basically includes all the stuff his readers show up for--cutting-edge science, history, exotic locales, action, adventure, monsters--and delivers, well... more. BTW, did you catch that reference to monsters? I know he's not the only guy writing this sort of thing, but in The 6th Extinction, Rollins really reminds us why so many of us fell in love with his work, right from the get go, and just how good he is at what he does. Back off, impostors.

So, I'm pretty much eschewing the plot summary this time around. It's all too much fun to discover on your own. But I do want to single out one element for special praise. I read so many of these thrillers where there's some sort of mad genius plotting some variation on the end of the world. For instance, the old "we need to cull the human race due to overpopulation/lack of resources" storyline. Rollins has done it; everyone has done it. There's an evil genius in this book, too--but what he wants, and how he proposes to achieve it--that, my friends, is nothing I've ever seen before. Now, by my count, this guy has written 29 novels (total, under two different names) and he's still coming up with fresh ideas from a seemingly endless supply. How can you not be impressed?

I opened this review referencing Rollins' author's note, and I shall close with another quote: "Additionally, in this new book, I also wanted to acknowledge what's to come, with some big changes hinted at in these same pages--because Sigma's greatest and boldest adventures are still on the horizon." After a wildly entertaining decade, what better promise could a reader ask for?
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
OK, the Dog does NOT die.

I am telling you this because I hate it when a dog is introduced into a book and then I either spend the entire time worrying about the fate of the dog or turn to the last chapters to see if the dog is still there.

So the dog does not die.

I was so looking forward to this book. I really like Rollins.

This book scared the bejessus out of me. There have only been three other books that scared me. This one is now number four.

This book is, as some others have pointed out, very disjointed. And it all takes place in about 24 hours. Thus there is little to no "looking" for the answers. It is just run, run and run. The bad guys, of course, have gotten there first and blow everything up. Though I am not sure about why they ended up at DARPA headquarters. Supposedly that is to secret that only DARPA, the President and thousands of spies know about it.

There are things in this book that I wish Rollins had spent more time on, especially in Antarctica. The book starts out great [except for the blowing up of the lab, a really sore point with me] with a discussion of the early maps with Antarctica's non ice covered coast shown. That has always really been fascinating. But then, blowing up of things starts.

Now about the lab. I do not believe that any scientist would knowingly create a bio construct that could not be destroyed and thinks that blowing everything up and nerve gassing it would be enough to stop it. Hello, made me wonder if he had been dipping into the happy powder. The scientist, not Rollins.

OK, that was a huge disconnect from reality, but then Rollins points out that most, if not all, of the scientists are totally disconnected from reality. The guy in Peru was no worse, ok he was worse, but in terms of disconnect, he was no worse than the scientist who is doing research on a non "killable" bio construct in California. Though I am suspicious that maybe that was a Freudian slip on Rollins part.

Will I read this again? Probably not. Will I recommend it, yeah. It is, after all, Rollins and he is a good read.

This is a scary book. I read everything before I start the novel. I read the notes in the back, the "history" and the "for further reading" things. So when I start the book I know how much reality I have to suspend.

When I think of all the "eight year olds" who are ostensibly adults, who can order this stuff of the internet and get a "how to book" and who think that they are totally immune from doing bad things, I really wonder what is going to happen in the next few years, or even, months.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
James Rollins is adept at taking true history, science and politics, and putting a thrilling (and deadly) spin on them. Since his writing style is to take the reader on a wild ride - usually through several countries - and put his protagonists within one hair's-breadth of dire peril after another, there is a restriction on how rounded his characters can be. There are the villains and their henchmen, the innocent and not-so-innocent victims, the ultra-secret government agencies, huge and heartless corporations, and the beleaguered team of good guys - in this case, Sigma Force. I'm used to that and don't expect too much other than the usual gorgeous/brilliant/skilled women and dedicated/brilliant/lethal men. There are some anomalies in this book as well. For example, in one chapter, a man has his leg amputated above the knee, but a little later on the doctors are thinking they can save the knee joint. However, ignoring stereotypical characters and a few editorial oversights, this is an excellent book. It hits North America, South America and Antarctica, covers bio-engineering, synthetic DNA, indestructible organisms, and the possibility that some lunatic will trigger an apocalyptic extinction of everything, including humans, for whatever creed they espouse. I especially like the afterword, in which the author points out the real basis for his fiction. This is a strictly plot-driven thriller, with a breathless pace. I have all of Rollins' books, and this is a worthy addition to his shelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Not Rollin's best effort. The Sigma force are their usual selves but the plot is just too unbelievable even for fiction. Rollins is usually can hold my interest with his plots but I was a little bored with this one and grew tired of the fanciful creatures that kept emerging. I just expected better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This story closely resembles The Atlantis Gene, including a buried site in Antarctica pivital to the story. It was like re-reading The Atlantis Gene. Maybe that's why I never felt the excitement and tension I got from previous books in the series. I actually gave up about 3/ 4 of the way through for lack of interest.

My wife, who is usually a fan, quit reading when the ranger's dog got sick.

We both agree it's our least favorite book in the series. Hopefully things will be better with the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've read a few of the Sigma Force books, none of which left an impression one way or the other. This book is different.

I'm just over half way through the audio (Audible) version and will probably stop soon. It's awful. The story is absurd - hidden ecosystems under the antarctic and in the Amazon rainforest, complete with the release of an extinction-causing virus, a mad scientist, mercenaries, and more. Some of the absurdities.

The story starts with a park ranger in CA who is investigating a mayday call at a secretive government lab. She gets caught up in the events that follow and is brought on to the highly secretive Sigma Force. Right.

In another situation (no spoilers, don't worry), some of the Sigma Force folks along with a pair of scientists are trying to escape from a mercenary attack. While escaping, the scientists manage to very calmly describe the unusual environment they are in, as if they were not at risk if imminent death.

Oh, and each chapter begins with a date and time stamp. Time is given in PST, AST, GMT, seemingly at random. This is minor, but it's another irritant.

As noted, I'm listening to the Audible version. This has to be one of the absolute worst narrations. In narrator mode, the narrator's voice is, at best, sing song. God help us when he does the voices for individual characters. Every character seems to be amazed at everything that they are told or at everything that happens. Mind you, these are experienced secretive military force operatives, and they sound like high school students caught up in a war games or some other odd scenario. The British characters bring absurdity to new heights. One British scientist sounds like you would imagine a British officer serving in India during the 19th century would sound. And his daughter sounds like she's trying to imitate posh public school girls. It's painful. And one of the Sigma Force members, Kowalski, sounds like the kind of character you'd see in a WWII movie. The gruff, tough New York streetwise soldier. Mind you, this is an elite force member in the 21st century. At one point the author has him draping a bandolier of machine gun rounds over his shoulder. And don't get me started on the Brazilians, who sound like caricatures of Mexican gunfighters in 1950s spaghetti westerns.

Overall, a painful experience.

Edit: I wrote this review while I was roughly half way through. I'm now finished. It only became more painful. Oddly enough, it was the author's note that sort of redeemed the book a bit, as he explained the reality and the fiction more clearly. Only in this note did the author come across as not insulting his readers. Also, the narration continued to be appalling. There were a couple more Hispanic and Brazilian characters who were also awful, almost racist, caricatures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
These later stories just don't have the pizazz of the earlier books in this series. I found myself plodding through the story and losing interest. If something else had come along to distract me, I probably wouldn't have even bothered to come back to this book to finish it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I just couldn't even force myself to finish this book. I was such a huge fan of JR at the beginning of his Sigma series but this is just the same old story, different place. He seems to have latched onto a formula (the world at the brink of destruction, gunfighting, scary villains, etc) and just moves around the characters and places. Gotten so old. Can't believe I spent 13 bucks on this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Just finished reading "The 6th Extinction" by James Rollins released by the William Morrow Imprint of Harper Collions Publishers.
I must confess to finishing reading Rollin's latest Sigma Force adventrue long before the current worries about a possible ebola pandemic. Still, it's errie to see how quickly, even in fiction, how an area can quickly become contiminated with a deadly virus in less than a minute.
"The 6th Extinction" opens with Charles Darwin and the crew of the Beagle undertaking a secret detour to Antarctica in an attempt to verify a map that supposedbly leads to a hidden world in the ice where evolution took a different and deadly, as Darwin and the rest of the Beagle's crew discover, path in the evolutionary tree of life.
Flash forward to the present where an explosion at a secret military biological lab in the Sierra Nevada Mountains sets loose a biological plague that kills every living thing it touches and the area of devastation - 50 square miles - is growing.
Research into incorporating X-DNA from plants and animals from a shadow biosphere in Antarctica is responsible for the plague that threatens to wipe off all plant and animal life - including us humans - from the face of the Earth.
But the explosion at the research base wasn't an accident. It was orchestrated by a mad man who wants to de-evolve humanity and rule over it.
A great, fun read.
Highly Recommended!
FIVE STARS!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The Sixth Extinction, though a work of fiction, builds a cautionary tale out of the consequences of tinkering with nature's secrets. James Rollins weaves a tight thriller from the strands of historical mysteries, genetic manipulation, military hardware, secret government agencies run amok, evolutionary monsters, and psychological drama. His novel explores a wide range of geographically exotic locations, from the extra-terrestrial surface of Mona Lake in Yosemite Valley, to the sub-glacial caves of Antarctica and the giant sinkholes of the Brazilian tepui. This is not your grandpa's thriller, but a cutting-edge, visionary glimpse of how mankind can both threaten the environment and provide scientific and technological breakthroughs to secure a safe planet for all creatures. Although the Sigma force characters are somewhat caricatured, the park ranger heroine has the moxie to save the planet through sheer guts and perseverance. The twisted villain emerges as a believable threat to the world with just the right combination of rational justifications and perverse rationalizations. Although the evolutionary monsters are hard to believe, they are described so vividly and ingeniously that one begins to wonder what mysteries lurk under the ice sheets of Antarctica, and how can genetic science mutate existing breeds to produce monsters by design. The Sixth Extinction is a great read and has made me a Rollins fan, eager to read his other works.
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