Extinct is a story of survival in a world going through an apocalyptic event detailing the trials and tribulations of two different lead characters as they battle to stay alive in a new, cruel and confusing world. Written by Ike Hamill and focusing on during the event, rather than after it, Extinct is a nice take on a desperate world that manages to do apocalyptic horror/sci fi without relying on zombies or viruses.
Extinct was written, or at least released, in June 2013 by author Ike Hamill (Lies of the Prophet, The Hunting Tree) who hails from Maine and that is also where the story is mainly set. It starts pretty calmly with a focus on a young boy called Robby who lives on a remote island. He and his family are discussing weather reports that suggest snow is coming though this isn’t abnormal for their region. Similarly in another place, a man called Brad, also worrying about the impending storm, is finding odd flora in the remote place where he lives.
The early parts of Extinct are very much based on character development and build up which is great. The action comes quick and severely but no stone is left unturned in ensuring we, the reader, know Robby and know Brad completely, for better or worse.
Brad, who I personally found a bit odd, reports the strange flora which consists of fast growing plants and vines that also appear to be violent as they reach and grab at people. He quickly becomes a prisoner in his own home as “the government” swamp his land and prevent Brad from communication with the outside world. To be fair, Brad pretty much did that to himself already anyway as he is very reclusive. I found him to be quite the oddball and not particularly likeable at first which is credit to the author for invoking a strong opinion out of us readers with his descriptive and thorough development.
Robby is going through a worse spell though. It appears that people on his island are just disappearing into thin air. Is it something in the snow? Maybe it is the snow? Whatever it is, it eventually leaves Robby, a young but articulate and advanced teenager, alone and lost as he makes his way off the island and to the mainland.
Eventually Brad leaves his house to find everyone gone. He realises he has no choice but to leave his remote hiding place and find food, shelter and hopefully companionship as the snow moves in. So as Brad leaves and races to try to leave the weather behind, unaware of what else might be chasing him.
Similarly Robby, now on the mainland, is also trying to run from the weather but he is much more aware of the other reasons for haste having had his family snatched away into nothingness in front of his face. He gets in a car and drives.
So we have Brad running from one side and Robby running from another. What else is there but for them to eventually run in to each other and carry on the story together?
This does happen eventually though by the time Brad meets Robby, Robby is leading a small group of survivors who have managed to gather more information about what is happening and are starting to formulate a plan to fight back.
With strong characters to love, and plenty to dislike, this small band of survivors led by an extremely intelligent child attempt to survive as they realise they are being attacked by the very forces of nature itself. Facing horrors such as water that stalks and swallows everything in its path, something that is killing people and making their eyeballs explode, a void that is disappearing people into nothingness and even reanimated stuffed animals, the small band of survivors plot to survive each day and find a way to fight back before it is too late.
I enjoyed Extinct and also enjoyed the writing style. While there is plenty of action, there is a huge amount of detail given to building the characters. This makes you care about their fate. On top of that, a lot of credit should be given for daring to write a post-apocalyptic story that doesn’t revolve around nuclear war or zombies. The invasion of nature itself is both creative and unique. When writing down bits in this review like “reanimated stuffed animals” I am aware it sounds a little silly but it is written in the novel in a way that it is tense and scary and never feels comical or silly.
There are things to dislike a little – there are a couple spelling errors in the Kindle edition which are probably not anything to do with the author but are things I don’t expect in professional writings and the ending, while I like it, is frantic. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with this but it is very much at a different pace to the rest of the book. This makes it feel a little rushed, though I doubt it was actually rushed in real life. There are also many things built up in the steady character development that don’t get answered but the ending does leave it open for a sequel which is already out, called Instinct, so I expect the important ones to be continued on in that.
A good story that is well written, creative, unique and packed with good, strong characters that are really well developed by the author. A frantic ending doesn’t detract too much from what is mostly a well-paced and a very interesting horror story. Ike Hamill is an author I will look to read more from. I intend to go and buy Instinct, the sequel to this story right now.
Extinct (Ike Hamill)