First published back in March of 2012, US author (although born in Cardiff, UK) Paul Anthony Jones’ novel ‘Extinction Point - Book One: The End’ formed the first instalment in the author’s post-apocalyptic ‘Extinction Point’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
New York Tribune reporter, Emily Baxter, was just carrying on with her usual everyday life when the first reports of the red rain began to emerge.  Across Europe an unknown red precipitation, having no apparent meteorological cause, was falling across the entire European landscape.  And when the same red rain began to fall upon New York, the city’s population simply stopped and watched in a mystified awe as the streets turned to crimson.  But when everyone across Europe started to die, everyone everywhere quickly realised the utter horror of the situation.

Panic ensued, with people fighting to get back home to their loved ones for their final few hours.  Everyone everywhere seemed to be succumbing to this violent, insidious red-plague.  All of a sudden, the whole world round was dying a quick and bloody death.

For Emily there wasn’t anywhere to go but back to her one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  There, as she watched from her small balcony, she witnessed the once great city of New York gradually die around her.  The arrival of her cop boyfriend, Officer Nathan Meadows, brings only the briefest of respites.  And once he succumbs to the plague like everyone else, his death within the four walls of her apartment only goes to destroy Emily’s world that little bit more.  And so she lies there, in her apartment on the seventeenth floor, awaiting her own death.  However as the hours tick by, and the world around her gradually goes silent, for some unknown reason, death doesn’t come for her.

Waking the next day to an oppressively silent new world, Emily finds that the bloodstains that should have been all around Nathan’s dead body have now vanished.  And as she goes out into the dead streets of New York in search of provisions, Emily witnesses the red mist seeking out the dead, only to coat their bodies in a layer of fine red dusting.

Returning to her apartment, and having left frantic messages across the internet, Emily suddenly receives a call on her phone.  The voice on the line informs Emily that he’s a climatologist named Jacob Endersby who’s currently located on a tiny frozen island named the Stockton Islands, positioned off the Northern Coast of Alaska.  He tells Emily that he’s there with a small group of eleven – all of which are scientists, technicians and support staff.  They had all been working at the remote climate monitoring station when the red-plague hit.  Since then, they’ve watched in horror as the world died – and have been desperately trying to find any sign of survivors.  Which is how they came across Emily’s messages.

Having observed the red-plague from the safety of their Northerly location, the scientists had surmised that the plague could not tolerate the extreme cold.  As such, Jacob tells Emily that she has to leave New York at once, to travel the five-thousand odd miles over some of the coldest and toughest terrain in North America, so that she can reach them.  Only then will she be safe from the numerous hazards of the decaying world.

However, it’s not just the tough journey that will be up against Emily on her mission for survival.  She is no longer alone.  Waking from their fleshy pupa-cocoons, grotesquely mutated aliens, formed from the corrupted flesh of the dead, are emerging everywhere.  Now Emily will have to fight for her survival as she travels Northwards on her bicycle across the gruelling landscape of this terrifying new world...

DLS Review:
Jones clearly has a passion for post-apocalyptic fiction.  Indeed, the book commences with thanks to those in the ‘Apocalypse Whenever’ group from the internet site Goodreads.  And although the book started out its life as a self-published venture, the writing and final publication had nevertheless been incredibly accomplished.

The story is very much a sci-fi / horror crossover, all within a post-apocalyptic setting akin to the likes of ‘The War Of The Worlds’ (1898).  Indeed, Jones hasn’t settled for one of the monstrously overdone angles for his end-of-civilisation settings, but instead stitched together an imaginative amalgamation of ideas to form a particularly original concept for his post-apocalyptic series.

Initially, when the red rain starts falling, the tale reads very much like ‘The Fog’ (1975) or ‘One Rainy Night’ (1991).  However, when the red-plague begins to kill everyone off, it’s hard not to start thinking of the likes of ‘The Stand’ (1978) along with numerous other plague epidemic plots.  But it’s when the first alien mutations start to show themselves that the truly exciting inspiration starts to flood in.  There’s definitely a good chunk of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (1982) in there, along with other such examples of flesh corruption, such as with ‘From Beyond’ (1986).

Mix in the invading alien’s harvesting of mankind from ‘War Of The Worlds’ (1898) with the loneliness and eventual canine companionship from ‘I Am Legend’ (1954) along with the tough female protagonist role from ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ (2005) – and you’re edging close to Jones’ first instalment.

And to be fair, it’s a heck of a read.  Admittedly, the pacing is a little sporadic – with certain chapters becoming just that little too weighed down with the intricate details surrounding Emily’s planned journey.  A lot of stopping and starting jolts the reader back and forth before finally taking the hesitant plunge to set off on what is sure to be a truly epic journey.

Jones is certainly a very good storyteller.  His writing style is descriptive and engaging, whilst his ability to capture a mood or atmosphere is quite exceptional.  This is perhaps most notable when he cuts down on our protagonist’s visual senses whilst she is within the darkened corridors of her apartment block.  Here Jones manages to create a truly nail-biting scene that rips at the reader with a near palpable tension.

What’s definitely true is that Jones has set up a premise that’s absolutely bursting with potential.  This five-thousand mile journey (which at this stage is looking to be done mostly on a pushbike) all of which is across a post-apocalyptic backdrop with savage mutated beasties roaming around, is certainly one hell of a starting point for a series.

The inclusion of weirdly unknown alien stuff – such as strange monolithic tree-like structures which have been fabricated from the mutating and metamorphosing flesh of the recently dead – adds a burning mystery quality that simply draws the reader in further.

All in all, Paul Anthony Jones’ first instalment into his sci-fi/horror post-apocalyptic series is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read – laced with ingenious ideas, and quivering with the potential for so much more.  Furthermore, bringing in the canine companion of Thor was a particularly smart (although slightly clichéd) move, which injected a much needed drive of emotional bonding for our principal protagonist.

Okay, so the book ends without wrapping up anything particular in this first book.  It’s very much a starting block for the series – and not something that could be read as a standalone read.  This has its merits as well as its obvious drawbacks.  And for some it’s a very annoying trait for a book that’s part of a series.  So be warned – if you’re planning on reading this first book – then you’ll more than likely be in it for the long haul.

The book runs for a total of 308 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Extinction Point’ instalments:

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