In case the threat of the monstrous Variants and the pending extinction of the human race wasn't enough, Nicholas Sansbury Smith adds in some extra tension with the possibility of another civil war. Rogue, fanatical soldier Andrew Wood and his Resistance of Tyranny (ROT, an acronym that feels a bit too on-the-nose for this vicious homegrown squadron of terrorists) are attempting to undermine President Ringgold by unleashing the infectious Hemorrhage Virus bioweapon upon the nation's Safe Zone Territories, while executing some grand-scale revenge against the members of Ghost Team. The bulk of Ghost Team's Delta operators, however, are waging war against the Variants in France and seeking to save Europe.
Smith weaves a strong sci-fi-military-horror narrative using multiple plot threads and presenting shifting viewpoints from a handful of characters. Opening with a battle for survival, Wounded Warrior Reed Beckham fights his way through a Safe Zone now overrun with horrors, catapulting the story from one violent and dangerous encounter to the next. Extinction War hits the ground running, hardly pausing to allow readers or the book's characters a chance to catch their breath. This is a guns-ablazing, pedal to the metal post-apocalyptic actioneer that speeds its way through the end of the world.
While there's plenty of alpha male mayhem, it's Smith's presentation of the women that I enjoy the most. They're not only smart and capable characters in position of power, but function as a necessary counterbalance to the horrors of this world, oftentimes inhabiting the roles of humanity's saviors. Both Dr. Kate Lovato and President Ringgold are tough go-getters, but they're also determined to fix the egregious and deliberate actions made by men. Men created the Hemorrhage Virus and destroyed humanity, but it's ultimately up to the women to save the world while a lot of the men run assist. Cool beans.
Extinction War looks to be the big finish to The Extinction Cycle series, and Smith ties up the dangling plot threads pretty nicely. Not all of the characters we've grown to love and admire over the course of seven novels make it through unscathed, but the story resolves itself in a satisfactory way. Smith, of course, has kept his bases covered should his publisher and fans demand a book eight. Never count out Team Ghost, after all. But if this is indeed the series finale, it goes out on a good note. I really wouldn't mind this being the last book though, and am savoring the idea of the survivors finally having a chance to unwind and relax for a bit. They've more than earned a rest.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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