Saturday, March 10, 2012

REVIEW: Extinction Point by Paul Jones

Extinction Point Extinction Point by Paul Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Slight Spoilers

I hesitated reading Extinction Point (EP) because I did not care for the author's other Apocalyptic book, Towards Yesterday. However, when the author offered me a free copy I took the opportunity. At most I would have wasted my time and be placed in an awkward situation of low-star rating the book. Yes, it's that same kind of awkwardness when Grandma gives you a present... and it's an ugly sweater. Fortunately, I found the book thoroughly enjoyable.

EP starts off with Emily Baxter on a reporting gig. I instantly like Emily the first time I read her internal monologue about weird magazines found in waiting areas. My affection for her increased when Emily refused to accept any nonsense from the hooky-playing receptionist, barring Emily from her appointment. All that happened in the first scene, a short scene. A definite strong start the book have. Already I was rooting for Emily and salivating to read more of her. The book did not disappoint.

Exclusively told from Emily Baxter's side in 3rd PoV, the story is about Emily trying to survive the Apocalypse alone. Not that she had any choice since everyone else was dead. By luck or genetic Emily managed to survive the plague brought on a mysterious weather phenomenon dubbed as "Blood Rain." The book pulled no punches, the first time Emily saw herself truly alone was after witnessing her boyfriend's spontaneous gory death. Later on she tried calling her parents in Florida. No one answered. Ever. Emily then walked to her neighbor's place where a mother and a father and their little boy were dead. From the blood spill and stain, they too must have suffered a spontaneous gory death. Dead person here, dead person there, dead people everywhere. Blood all around. Emily go crazy?

The Character(s?)

+++ Emily

No, Emily did not go crazy. She did screamed some when she saw her boyfriend dying in front of her. But that was it. The story could have made Emily go bat-shit crazy at the blood bodies surrounding her, but it didn't.
Death was coming for her, she knew and waited. It was just a matter of seconds before she joined Nathan and the millions of victims across the world who had already succumbed to this violent, insidious red-plague. What was strange though was with the inevitability of her death came a serenity of sorts, a calmness within her mind as everything complicated in her life ceased to matter. Her only responsibility now was to wait.

The cold honesty of her situation, the simplicity of it all, was a welcome relief.

So, she waited.
I tearless wept for Emily when I read that passage. I was delighted when she managed to pull herself together quickly after. However, I soon noticed this "cold honesty of her situation" became somewhat of a repeated occurrence. I was happy to see Emily being well aware of the danger she placed herself in, even when was she weaponless. I was not happy how that same "cold honesty of her situation" made her quickly resign to death when face with danger and seemingly no chance of escape. Many times when I wanted to scream "Don't give up!" at her. Nevertheless, as far as character flaws goes, this "cold honesty of her situation" was very low on my irritation scale. I hardly ever thought she was annoying because of it, I thought the flaw made her more real as a person.

Throughout the story, Emily was smart and resourceful. She achieved a good balance between her paranoia that was brought on by the Apocalypse and her inquisitiveness that made her a talented reporter. I did have moments where I didn't know what she was doing or why she was doing it, but I didn't doubt her action. I was confident knowing whatever Emily did she did it for a good reason.

Emily Baxter was a kick-ass heroine in the fact that she did things and got things done. She may have been weak in front of the WTFkery mutants the Apocalypse birthed — what average person wouldn't, but when she had an opportunity to overcome them she instantly took it. When she got hurt, she didn't shrug it like it's nothing. She said ouch, disinfect it, and then let it rest like a reasonable person.

Bonus part was her morbid humor. That was icing on the character cake.
Some messages explained their authors were hunkering down and hoping to ride out the storm, there were even one or two that dismissed the threat as nothing more than mass hysteria.

How'd that work out for you? Emily wondered.
LOL. Absolutely hilarious. Too bad no one was there to appreciate this irony or to tell “I told you so”...'cause, you know, they're all dead.

+++ Thor

He's a dog, specifically an Alaskan Malamute. He saved Emily from the WTFkery mutant. He's trained, so trained that despite starvation he won't eat until Emily had to give the Eat command. Nothing more to say except I love him. I kinda wish he showed up earlier in the story, but then it might have lessen the impact of his arrival. The story really want to pull the point across that Emily Baxter was alone.

+++ WTFkery mutants

The dead bodies didn't stay dead for long... No, they didn't became zombies. This is what made EP distinctive from the common Apocalyptic books. Instead, the mysterious red thing from the "Blood Rain" molded the various body parts into some sort of creatures I don't know what it is but I personally nicknamed them as WTFkery mutants. As the story described these, um, things were about grotesque as a leaf-nosed bat — I dare you to google that — or the human centipede from that...well, The Human Centipede films.

More than the WTFkery mutants, what made EP scary-good was well how it build up the suspense of Emily meeting a WTFkery mutant for the first time. Second was the fact that some of them were not aggressive. You read right. Some. Not all. Some.
How ironic was it, she thought, that in every alien invasion movie she had ever seen, every sci-fi book she had ever read, the aliens were always either intent on eating us or just misunderstood. No one ever seemed to consider the possibility they might just ignore us completely; that the survivors of the human race might be so very inconsequential to their plan.
No kidding. How dare some of these WTFkery mutants ignore Emily. All of them should be trying to chase and devour her. Get with the Apocalyptic act, would you? /sarcasm. LOL.

Addressing the Apocalyptic Issue

+++ cause of apocalypse

The story addressed all the finer points of the Apocalypse very well. The events leading up and after "Blood Rain" were well built. The red thing that made everyone died and change into WTFkery mutants were well developed — I was pleasantly surprised at how scientific Emily was in her examination of the Apocalyptic red thingy. There many theories Emily played around; the one seem best to me was that it was some sort of an alien virus. EP never outright said what it is, thus the answers — including the one why the Apocalypse happened — lies in future books which I eagerly look forward to.

+++ get your weapon

EP seem to accurately describe what an Apocalyptic survivor would have to do to keep on surviving. One thing that slightly irked me what that I wished Emily would have got her hand on a weapon as soon as possible. It's always smart to run away and hide, but there are times when that isn't feasible. I hope in future books, Emily would always have a weapon at hand. Like Gin Blanco from my favorite Urban Fantasy series, the Elemental Assassin. That kick-ass heroine never walk anywhere without her silver knives.

+++ travel by... bike?

The biggest issue — of the very few issues — I had with EP was the bike. Um... Is Emily going to travel to Alaska by bike? Not that it's impossible, but it doesn't seem very practical. Or fast. If Emily can't travel by car because of all the abandoned cars blocking the roads, why not a motorcycle? It's almost as slim as a bike that she can move through tight passages. I hope this issue is quickly addressed and resolved in the sequel.

+++ travel by... bike? [ETA]

I finally figured out why Emily would pick a bike. The answer was there right all along, it just took a while for me to get it through my head. Anyway, the reason is because if it's anything is broken, she can fix the bike. Yet...

I guess it's because I'm mostly focusing how the book is set up. The book is divided into seven parts, each part is a day. Each day consist of multiple chapters. If the next book is going to be the same, divided into days, then I wonder how many days it would take for Emily to bike from NYC to Alaska.

A few reasons why I find a motorcycle more practical is because what if a WTFkery mutant start chasing her? It's easier to make a quick getaway on a motorcycle than on a bike. A bike would require exercise on her part, while with motorcycle all she needs is gasoline. What happens if she's injured or too tired to ride a bike and then a WTFkery mutant or a bunch appear? A bike won't help. And there's only so many she can shoot, assuming if she's an accurate shooter, assuming if the mutants can die with bullet wounds, assuming if the mutants can even be pierced with bullets.

The book always made me aware of the time. Emily riding a bike doesn't really push the point of how urgent it was that she need to escape the city full of WTFkery mutants and reach the haven in Alaska.

If riding a motorcycle is simply too scary for her, there's always the scooter.

The Editing

For a self-published book, EP was well edited. Nonetheless there were some mistakes, mostly of the rogue punctuation kinds. I believe I only noticed them because I literally read EP word for word. That's how good the book was; I didn't skim anything. The followings are mistakes I found:
[Her stomach gave an anticipatory grumble. .] Kindle Location 182. There's an extra period.

[As Emily ’s eyes roamed the buildings,] Kindle Location 590. There's an extra space in the possessive noun.

[Obviously, the power was still on because her alarm clock was still working,.] Kindle Location 1688. There's a rogue comma before the period.

[intent on insinuating themselves into every nook and crevice of the apartment and the city. .] Kindle Location 1925. There's an extra period.

[Waggghhhhrrrrrgh!] Kindle Location 2065. This needs to be italicized like the other onomatopoeia.

[She took the bergen and left it near the front door while she grabbed her jacket .] Kindle Location 2415. There's a space before the period.

[was loose enough she wouldn’t end up accidentally stabbing herself .] Kindle Location 2420. There's a space before the period.

[She began to breathe a little easier ,] Kindle Location 2920. There's a space before the comma.

[what he liked to call ’the best bargains on two wheels‘.] Kindle Location 3116 The type of single quotation marks are not correct. It's supposed to be ‘ first, and ’ second.

[It was intoxicating..] Kindle Location 3186. There's an extra period.

[911] Kindle Location 370, 457, and 585. These are supposed to be "9/11" to denote it as an event, not an emergency number.
These are the mistakes I found in my first reading the book. However, as I said before, I only noticed them because I literally read EP word for word. There was nothing I found boring about EP at all.

+++ The Editing [ETA]

They're fixed.


EP was great. I give it four-stars for I really liked it. It's been a while since I read a well developed science-fiction Apocalyptic book. I recommend this book for readers who looking something other than zombies, zombies, and more zombies. If readers like me who were not at all a fan of Towards Yesterday but still want to give the author a second chance, this is it right here.

I'm biased in favor for a single PoV, so I hope the future books will stick with Emily. EP is a strong start of a series. This is a bit frightening for me because I don't know how the next book will top this one.

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