Extinction Horizon is the explosive first instalment of the successful Extinction Cycle series, and focuses upon the spread of a deadly strain of the Ebola virus as it sweeps across the world. As the infection response rates quicken and there seems to be no way of controlling the virus, it is only a matter of time to find a cure or destroy the infected.
Smith’s novel takes an interesting turn from the over-saturated market of zombie-esque fiction and depicts an apocalyptic situation with the infected as rabid monsters with strange, enlarged lips and bloodshot eyes. In a frightening but clichéd twist, the virus is revealed early on to have been constructed as a biological question which has fallen out of control of the government, and now running rampage across national borders. Smith’s continual references of scientific jargon portray the intensive level of research he has used for this novel, presenting the infected less as monsters and more as victims. The backdrop of the Cold War as the foundations for the biological weapon certainly seems a plausible and terrifying explanation for the experimentation of such a virus.
The novel focuses around Master Sergeant Reed Beckham and his Delta Force Team, and their journey to gather whatever they can for Dr. Kate Lovato to help create a cure. There are plenty of apocalyptic clichés, some good, and some painful, but all of them work together to create a concoction of horror, suspense and sci-fi which will keep you on your toes! Ultimately, this wasn’t as much of a genre-twist as M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, but it kept the thrilling elements of Brooks’ World War Z and introduced an array of characters and situations.
Smith’s writing style is particularly addictive, clinging onto details and drawing out catastrophe to epic proportions. However, only a handful of characters are developed enough to care about during climatic scenes of great tension, which will hopefully improve throughout the rest of the seven-book series, allowing us to develop an emotional connection when it really matters.
Overall, Extinction Horizon was certainly thrilling and explosive, cutting across time period and settings, although it lacked the emotional depth and clung to some tired clichés of the genre. The book provides a solid grip to the start of an intense, fast-paced series.
Master Sergeant Reed Beckham has led his Delta Force Team, codenamed Ghost, through every kind of hell imaginable and never lost a man. When a top secret Medical Corps research facility goes dark, Team Ghost is called in to face their deadliest enemy yet–a variant strain of Ebola that turns men into monsters. After barely escaping with his life, Beckham returns to Fort Bragg in the midst of a new type of war. The virus is already spreading… As cities fall, Team Ghost is ordered to keep CDC virologist Dr. Kate Lovato alive long enough to find a cure. What she uncovers will change everything. Total extinction is just on the horizon, but will the cure be worse than the virus?