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Extinction Age (The Extinction Cycle) Kindle Edition
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This is the third book in the EXTINCTION CYCLE series, with at least four planned. Book one EXTINCTION HORIZON and book two EXTINCTION EDGE were two of my favorite post-apocalyptic books...ever. Now book three in the series EXTINCTION AGE is here and this is the best book so far. I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reading Copy and I am a happy fan girl. I also bought a copy of the book for my collection - and to support this exceptional author.
MSGT Reed Beckham and Dr. Kate Lovato are back, battling the Variants by any means possible, along with the other members of Team Ghost...and Fitz, the sharpshooter soldier who just happens to have blades for legs.
Besides being killing machines, the Variants are evolving quickly into even smarter, deadlier foes against mankind. Operation Liberty, which failed overwhelmingly, was just an example of the animal cunning of these creatures.
Now Kate is back in the lab trying to come up with another weapon to use against the Variants. If she fails, things are looking downright impossible for mankind.
Author Smith has a deft touch with the rapid pacing of this series and this book really zooms along. He also has a talent for bringing his characters to life on the pages. Of course, that doesn't mean they're going to stay alive. His battle scenes end up looking like wedding scenes in A Game of Thrones.
So be prepared for bloodshed, pathos, romance, and hope. This is a dark series but there are moments of hope, too.
Book four EXTINCTION EVOLUTION is due out in Fall 2015.
Strong relationships and firmly developed characters--even a good chunk of the minor ones--are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very smelly apocalyptic setting. (Thinking of the odor of Variants, there...) Two characters romantic relationship develops organically, whereas in many novels it often feels flat, forced, rushed because of circumstances. Smith allows these two characters to develop slowly and at their pace. It's brilliant. Despite the dark and dreaded potential fate of humanity, this romance is one bright spot of hope. There are others, including the on-going developing friendships among the members of Team Ghost and their civilian and military allies. The growing diversity of characters enhances their individuality to the reader. The power of overcoming disabilities or severe injuries to survive is a theme that resonants strongly with me and honors those who have been wounded while in military service or, like me, face disabilities.
Meanwhile, the introduction of a possible human antagonist raises a lot of questions and frightening possibilities. The consequences of Brett's storyline are far from over.
The Variants in themselves are brilliant antagonists. Frightening. Their evolution and expanded abilities is impressive. Smith crafted a force that seems unstoppable. Other genre entries which feature less-than-brilliant slow moving zombies that somehow overwhelm all of humanities' defenses. How? Someone would catch on at some point? Sheer numbers? It logically doesn't make sense. With the Variants and the sheer power behind them, it raises the stakes where an apocalyptic novel of this type needed to go. Finally. It's that ferocious predatory power and the well-researched and expertly crafted scientific explanations behind their capabilities that make the high body count and extreme situation plausible, while the relationships draw us into the story with high investments.
The Variants in themselves place the Extinction novels in my favorite list, including D.J. Molles' The Remaining and Chuck Grossart's Gemini Effect. It's the well developed relationships and brilliantly written science and tactical methods that propels Extinction to the top. It's a smart apocalyptic thriller and welcome refreshment from the decaying fare.
There were a few punctuation errors in my Kindle copy that I pre-ordered. Also, for those that are sensitive to such things, this novel does include some sexuality--but once again, the crafting of which is well done and plays into character development, rather than for the sake of "skin". Also, it is not graphic. Even the violence and gore, by some standards, is not as extreme. All in all, this enhances the fast paced, intense thriller that is Extinction Age.
Smith's Extinction Age is full of excellent scientific and military detail, well crafted characters and relationships, political and military intrigue, frightening Variant to what we've come to think of as common zombie fare. Extinction Age--like the two novels before it--breaks from the pack and ranks in the upper echelon of the genre. It's a compelling page turner. The next book cannot come soon enough.
One question remains: What's that clicking in the dark, fellow reader? Dare you find out.
(And no, besides sharing a great last name, there is no relation.)