You can judge this book by its cover, and it will not be found wanting. I spotted it on the bookshelf at Shoppers Drug Mart. It has a cleverly illustrated dinosaur skeleton wrapped around to form a “6” in the book’s title, The 6th Extinction. It’s beautiful, and the cover did exactly what it should: it got me to pick up the book and check out the cover. The synopsis on the back did the rest. Hook, line, and sinker; I bought the book.
This was my first foray into the writings of James Rollins and the world of Sigma Force, and I was barely able to put the novel down. In my eagerness to start reading what promised to be an incredible story – and it did deliver – I missed the various ads that revealed this novel was part of a series; the tenth book, in fact. In spite of this, Rollins has written the characters with enough detail and backfill that I was able to grasp all the characters and run off with them for hours at a time. It didn’t matter that I’d never read any of the other stories. The novel is a perfect entry-point into the world of Sigma Force. Rollins, masterfully introduces characters, brings them together, and separates them again, sending them off to different parts of the world. Each group of characters encounters separate and distinct threats, dangers, and horrors. Between these and the growing threat from a genetically-engineered virus that kills everything in its wake – released during a precipitating event – Rollins keeps the reader turning pages and reading on.
The story is bookended with Notes from the Historical Record and Notes from the Scientific Record at the beginning, and a Truth or Fiction section at the end; something I hadn’t seen before. Rollins mixes fact and fiction into an intoxicating brew that seduces readers into becoming willing co-conspirators in the suspension of disbelief, sucking them down the rabbit hole into his all-too-real fictional world.
I haven’t read any of the preceding nine books, but believe me – I will. If you enjoy a fast-paced thrilling read with mystery, history and science as elements, pick up a copy of The Sixth Extinction, turn off your cell phone, and get lost in this novel’s pages. The world will still be there, with all its concerns, when you surface again. Or will it?
Stephen Lowe is a graduate of the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin College and lives in Maitland, East Hants, NS and Ottawa, ON with his wife, Gwen, and their dog, Rosie.