Read Time: 3 Minutes

I can’t imagine in the normal course of things I’d have come across this book, but I’d heard Cal Newport review it on his Deep Questions podcast and thought I’d give it a go. As it turns out, it was a good idea! While the story itself was predictable at times and some of the characters felt like cookie-cutter stereotypes, I found myself surprisingly reluctant to press the stop button when I had less exciting things like “going to bed and sleep” to do.

What’s it about? If you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you’ll already know the general “science” behind what is happening. At the Erebus Resort in the Colorado Rockies, they’re de-extincting animals from the Pleistocene era using DNA found in fossils. Unlike Jurassic Park, this modern take (Pleistocene Park might have been too close for copyright laws!) on resurrecting extinct animals is bringing back herbivores like woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths. Someone at Erebus was paying attention to the movie at least!

With a hundred-thousand-acres of lush valley for the beasts to roam around in, the resort is basically printing money. They’re the only ones on the planet that can do the de-extinctions and they’ve got plenty of millionaires looking for that unique destination.

The book opens with a pair of newlyweds being murdered while camping in the park. Their heads apparently lopped off and their remains stolen before anyone could even raise an alarm. A search of the forest by Colorado Bureau of Investigations agent Frances “Frankie” Cash and a local sheriff (and John Wayne lookalike) James Colcord kicks off, and the mysteries deepen, and the questions keep piling up. One of the victims was the son of a billionaire and his pregnant wife, so it’s garnering a lot of interest beyond the normal.

What initially looks to be an eco-terrorist attack targeting Erebus Resort because its genetic tinkerings are understandably controversial turns into something far more sinister. An apparent cult of cannibals is hiding out in the woods, cooking the heads and devouring the body parts of anyone unlucky enough to fall victim.

While thoroughly engaging, as I said up top there were some rather predictable moments. At one point I was getting mildly annoyed because it was so obvious what was going to happen, but it was drip-fed over the entire chapter, which felt like a complete waste of time.

The narration by David Aaron Baker was okay. Some of his characters left a little to be desired – his Australian accent, in particular, had me cringing. Yes, okay it might be because I am Australian so to me it sounded more like a bad South African, but still… it hurt my ears! One minor error in production where a repeated line wasn’t cut during editing, but otherwise the recording was clean.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, most certainly even though the plot did seem to unravel a little towards the end where (no spoilers) I had to make some real leaps of faith in order to believe some of the “why” of what was happening.

I was trying to think of a suitable analogy all the way through, and what I came up with was Extinction is like indulging in your favourite Chinese takeout. It’s not a Michelin-star meal, but it delivers a satisfying and slightly indulgent experience. It may not provide deep intellectual nourishment, but it certainly hit the spot.


Science Fiction, Genetic Engineering, Horror, Dinosaurs, Police Procedural
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