Title: Extinction Point
Authors: Paul Antony Jones
Star Rating: * *
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi/Science Thriller
One day the sky started raining red water. The next day almost everyone in the world was dead. In New York, Emily Baxter survives for unexplained reasons, a lone person in a city that formerly held millions. She discovers that a small team of scientists is alive in Alaska, far out of the reach of the red rain, and decides to take the long journey to join them. However, as she tries to escape the city, she learns that the red rain brought far more than death to the Earth. Using the corpses of humanity, this alien presence has begun to terraform the planet into a strange new place with terrifying creatures and red forests.
The world created by Jones is a frightening, but very fascinating place. The red rain is a sentient entity that changes Earth drastically. The sheer level of devastation that the rain caused is almost incomprehensible, and the terraforming that begins shortly after its arrival strains the capacity of human imagination. Shortly after the storm, a red dust appears that seeks out the dead and turns them into pupal casings. The creatures born of this disturbing process are terrifying spider-like animals with vicious talons and haunting cries. However, these creatures do not attempt to harm Emily when she encounters them as they are completely focused on journeying to the new red forests where they use their very bodies to create the trees there. Some of these trees then birth completely new beings with tentacles for heads and a predatory instinct. And this seems to be only the start of the changes happening to Earth…
The writing in Extinction Point is certainly not bad, but it does suffer from some significant issues that make the book a bit of a chore to read at times. One of the most noticeable problems was the author’s overwhelming love of descriptions. A lot of time is spent in this book talking about the mundane things that Emily is doing or packing. While this type of detail is not necessarily unwelcome in fiction, it drags when there is a lack of balancing action or plot development. For example, at one point, the author spends a couple pages talking about how Emily fed the dog that she found on her travels. I found it strange that so much time was spent talking about how Emily mashed up corn beef, but nothing was said about how the dog survived. As Emily is a reporter and her curious nature is emphasised several times, wouldn’t it make sense for her to be inquisitive about how this one animal managed to live? As a reader, I would have found this type of conversation much more interesting than lists of packing supplies and bike repair pieces.
The other issue that I had with this book was the fact that it didn’t really feel like a full novel. I was shocked when I realised that I was reading the epilogue as nothing of substance had really occurred so far. Humanity had died and there were no answers as to why, and Emily had just made it out of New York City and found a companion in the form of a malamute. Aside from the introduction of the overarching plot, nothing particularly significant occurred, and the story felt like it was just finishing its introduction. This issue certainly doesn’t make the book unreadable, but readers should be aware that this is more of a serial work than a traditional series. And you might want a copy of Exodus nearby for when you finish Extinction Point.
Extinction Point was an interesting read for me as a fan of the genre, but it wasn’t a very satisfying novel. Few questions were answered (or even raised by the characters!), and little of substance occurred after all of humanity died. I really enjoyed the concept that the author was playing with, but more time needed to be spent on world building and character development. I wanted to know more about the reactions of the surviving members of humanity and less about packing descriptions. I will be picking up the second book in this series as it is short and I am very intrigued by the strange alien presence that is quickly taking over the world, but I am unlikely to recommend the book to anyone but the staunchest fans of the genre.
(Note: Read my review of the much-better sequel, Exodus, here)