Animals turn against humans, planes fall from the sky, earthquakes rip continents apart and tsunamis drown islands. When a giant religious statue is seen to tilt backwards, its head and hands turning to the heavens, it is no surprise that spiritual leaders (official or otherwise) and their followers believe that God has turned his eyes away from humanity and that life on Earth is about to end.
One woman, though, clings on to hope. Alyssa Durham is a journalist and when an old friend is murdered right in front of her, having just told her that not all of these catastrophes are natural, she sets out to investigate, travelling northwards to a secret facility hidden in the ice. She meets Jack Murray, a scientist who works there who had know her dead friend, and the two of them have a race against death itself to try and identify the forces against them and the planet. But nothing is certain, nothing or noone can be relied upon. In the end, extinction might become mankind’s only certainty.
I thoroughly enjoyed J.T. Brannan’s first thriller, Origin, and so I couldn’t read Extinction fast enough, putting it straight to the top of the reading pile on its arrival. I’m delighted to say that I found Extinction even better that Origin, and I was refreshed to find that this was another entirely standalone thriller, unrelated to the first, with a new set of characters and, because of that, the potential for any amount of surprises and shocks.
As with Origin, we’re in the territory of spectacular disaster. No punches are pulled in Extinction – it’s not one nation that’s threatened, it’s the entire human species. But much of the story is on the smaller scale as we follow Alyssa and Jack as they endure the utmost peril while discovering a little about each other and, you won’t be surprised to hear this, liking what they see. Alyssa is an interesting woman. We learn about her husband and child, now both tragically lost, and this humanity adds an extra dimension. She’s not infallible as she’s learned all too well and throughout the novel she always seems to feel that the task ahead will prove too much for her. But she does it anyway and she’s very easy to love for it. Jack is a less rounded individual, as are the baddies, but they are all entertaining to spend time with.
The action is crammed into the pages and never lets up. There is, despite the comfortable familiarity you feel reading this type of escapist thriller, an air of mystery about it all, something about the way it’s written and the scenes it describes, and as a result when it ends it’s quite possible that, like me, your mind will be boggled and you’ll want to go right back to the beginning for a re-read.
I love the unashamed joy that I get from reading a thriller that makes the pages fly through my fingers while putting me on the edge of my seat with the threat of complete apocalyptic catastrophe! Extinction is enormously entertaining and, if you like this sort of thing and know how to turn your sense of disbelief off at the switch, then you will love this. And that ending! Blimey!