About the book and the author.
Extinction Point: Exodus is book two in Paul Antony Jones’ series of so far four, about journalist Emily Baxter’s survival on a desolated Earth. It was published June 11, 2013, by 47North and if you would like a spoiler-free review of the first book (Extinction Point) you can visit this link:
Paul Antony Jones has added author to his list of titles which includes journalist, short-story writer and freelance copywriter. He lives in Nevada with his wife, four dogs and eight cats.
In book two of the Extinction Point series, Emily Baxter, having survived the calamity that befell the world sets off on a journey North to find the owner of a voice on a radio, who promises her sanctuary and safety from the alien incursion in the cold of the Arctic.
With her she has Thor, a malamute who apparently shares her immunity to the red rain and has taken up the duty of being her trusty protector. She soon stumbles upon another small family of survivors, however, in no small way thanks to the quirks of a micro-climate area.
The threat from the aliens that started with the red rain has increased and expanded in chilling ways and is as mysterious as ever. Now with two children to protect as well, can she and Thor make it the hundreds of miles North to an unforgiving climate, through a deadened world where ever darkened shadow holds the threat of attack?
What’s good about it?
As in the first book, Jones grasps the primary problem of any self-respecting apocalypse story which is, every-day ordinary survival for the modern human in a world bereft of people, fresh water and electricity.
It is a scenario we touch briefly in our own minds with any power or water outage longer than five minutes, any storm that lasts longer than a day (any average winter in Winnipeg…>< ). We shudder and ask ourselves: “What if this was every day?”
That, is the strength of any end-of-the-world book and to me the problem-solving aspect makes for a very satisfying read (Yes, I love MacGyver). Naturally the downside of the genre is how depressing the topic matter has to be. Even if Emily survives to live into her dotage – no mean feat for a woman who has to teach herself how to drive – then what? The planet’s carbon-based life is basically toast at this point. This is usually the point where I put the genre aside for more hopeful stories, but there are exceptions and Emily’s ordeals have kept me riveted.
Another thing I like about Jones’ storytelling is that he doesn’t flinch from the death of primary characters. Of course, you wouldn’t expect an apocalypse writer to do so but I find that often when you read these tales you can pick out before hand who is destined for the choppy-chop. Not so in this one and that’s the kind of stuff that keeps me reading.
He also managed to fool me in a big way with a character paradigm shift which in hindsight maybe I should have seen coming, but I truthfully didn’t. This made it all the more chilling and maddening and will recommend this book to readers like my husband. I realize this is vague, but I don’t want to blow that surprise for him.
At one point there’s a long stretch of the story which takes place with Emily and her team forging through snow storms in a sno-cat and I found myself happily reminiscing on an old treasure of mine: Scottish novelist Alistair MacLean’s Night Without End. Originally a cottage book I pinched from my father’s collection which became one of my favourite stories. If I were you, I’d line that one up after you finish this book, just for a little more snow-packed action!
What’s not so good?
There are a few minor points in the book that irked me. Lying to the kids seemed to be a repeating annoyance. Not hugely plot relevant either and I think it reflects more on Emily having no clue how to behave around children in a survival situation (how many of us do, be honest?). All I will say about that is that it’s not what I would have written, so I guess I need to put an apocalypse story on the list of books I plan to write after all. Gotta put your money where your mouth is at, and all that.
Another staple of Apocalyptica are the unanswered questions and the Extinction Point novels do have them in abundance, however, Jones relents on this irksome feature by proffering much speculation based on logic and extrapolation which goes along way to soothe an aspect that normally annoys me. (I also get ticked off by people in a Zombie-pocalypse who never heard of the word ‘zombie’ before. So sue me!).
An interesting tidbit can be found in the acknowledgments at the back of the book where Jones thanks the people of Coldfoot Camp, Alaska for their aid in creating scenery for this book.
I would recommend reading this book. It is a nail-biting tale which fluctuates between the frustrations of survival and the hair-raising horror of a good creature-feature. Get it here from Amazon.ca:
Notes: Review based on review copy offered by the author.