Death was coming for her. She knew and waited. It would be just a matter of seconds before she joined Nathan and the millions of victims around the world who had already succumbed to this violent, insidious, red plague. What was strange, though, was the inevitability of calmness within her mind as everything complicated in her life ceased to matter. Now her only responsibility was to wait.

In Paul Antony Jones’ Extinction Point, Emily Baxter is your typical New York career woman—she’s smart and dedicated to her job (a reporter for a major newspaper), a non-driver and a transplant from a different part of the country. On a day just like any other, she heads out to work, stops at her favorite deli to get some lunch, and checks the news. A strange red rain has swept through Europe, and it’s not long before it hits New York City in a humid, bloody downpour. Then, reports from Europe start rolling in—people exposed to the deluge are dying, bleeding out of every orifice. Emily is with her boyfriend when the same symptoms kick in on the East Coast, and she watches in horror as he violently hemorrhages to death before her eyes. She knows it is only a matter of moments before she, too, dies, just like everyone else on the planet.

But as the minutes, then hours, tick by, Emily remains alive. Unharmed. Untouched.

She tries to find other lucky, inexplicable survivors like herself, only to discover that New York City is a ghost town completely devoid of any life—no humans, no animals, just oppressive, complete silence.

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And then the really strange stuff starts to happen.

The red rain turns into some strange kind of sentient dust, and the bodies of the dead start...changing. The planet Earth no longer belongs to humans, and Emily has to leave the city before she joins the legion of her near-extinct species.

Extinction Point is Paul Antony Jones’ second novel, originally self-published as an ebook to significant success and re-released from Amazon’s SFF imprint, 47North. It’s easy to see why Extinction Point found such a niche with the science fiction crowd—this is a page-turning, apocalyptic thriller that manages to imbue some nice original twists to a more familiar setup. Conceptually, Extinction Point is fantastic: What if there were a biological agent that could wipe out almost all sentient life on planet Earth? Humans, gone. Animals—from birds to dogs to flies—gone, all in a matter of hours. This is complete and total annihilation, but happens without devastating the planet’s natural resources or ecology.[1] And then, the aliens (yes, aliens) move in...by taking over the vacated bodies of the living, and changing them into something new and decidedly NOT human.

The alien invasion angle is not new, but it’s one of my favorite apocalypse scenarios. Extinction Point has shades of some of the greats:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Footfall, The War of the Worlds. Heck, even Independence Day. What sets this book apart is its treatment of these particular invading aliens—they don’t really care about survivors because they are ridiculously, statistically insignificant. In the entire city of New York, Emily is the only surviving person (or, at least, she doesn’t run into anyone or anything else) and she makes her slow way around the abandoned metropolis, I Am Legendstyle, looking to amass supplies and come up with a plan to leave before things get really hairy.

While the underlying concept behind Extinction Point is solidly memorable, the writing is somewhat wanting. Every detail of Emily’s thought process and the minutiae of her day are frequently laid out for the reader, in play-by-play, laundry-list fashion. When Emily picks up a backpack, or changes her clothes, or decides to towel herself off with tepid bathwater, we hear her read about every single step of the process in great detail. Similarly, there are a number of repeated phrases, images and needlessly detailed plot points that could easily be removed from the book. On the character front, Emily also feels a little off—she’s driven and smart, but I’m not entirely sure I believe in her as a young journalist (her actions, thoughts and phrases feel more in tune with an older person).

Criticisms said, I still devoured Extinction Point in a single sitting and cannot wait to return to this post-apocalyptic world as Emily continues to make her way north. A recommended, fun, summer blockbuster-type of read.

In Book Smugglerish, an entertained 6.5 alien spiders out of 10.

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can find also find them at Twitter.


[1] Ok, I’m lying a little bit. We don’t really know the full scope of the annihilation of life on Earth in Extinction Point. And, as we know, an ecosystem relies on every living organism within that contained environment—so when you kill off large animals, small animals, or even microorganisms, this has dramatic shocks on the system at large. I’m not sure that Extinction Point cares about this—and honestly, in the framework of this story, neither do I. Suspension of disbelief and all that jazz.