Review: The 6th Extinction by James Rollins

As soon as I read the description of James Rollins’ The 6th Extinction, I was hooked…

A military research station buried in the remote Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California broadcasts a frantic distress call that ends with a chilling order:

“This is sierra, victor, whiskey. There’s been a breach. Fail-safe initiated. No matter the outcome: Kill us … kill us all.”

How can you read that and not be intrigued? Clearly, there was some dangerous research going on and something deadly was about to be turned loose on the world. Who could be counted on to save us all? Apparently, only the Sigma Force team, led by Commander Gray Pierce. They have the military and scientific knowledge to decipher what was happening at the lab and track down the saboteurs who interfered – and who are working on their own deadly agenda.

I love a good covert operation, I love a good science storyline, and there is plenty of excitement in this one. When a garbled call comes in from the military research station, Ranger Jenna Beck and her canine companion, Nikko, head up there to check things out. She finds the gate standing open. (That’s never a good sign. No self-respecting, top-secret military base leaves their gate unlocked!) She gets a frantic call from her dispatcher, ordering her to get out of there, relaying the “kill us all” message, just as the entire base erupts in flame. That’s enough to get Jenna headed out of the compound at full speed … but why is there helicopter tailing her?

The story takes us from California to Washington, from the jungles of Brazil to the ice floes of Antarctica. It reaches back to Charles Darwin aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, and beyond, to the Library of Alexandria, for a map that may show the way to a lost continent under the ice, the terrifying secrets it holds, and the devastation it could unleash. There are mad scientists and evil geniuses, soldiers and mercenaries, and a mad rush to either save mankind or destroy it. That should be enough excitement for anyone!

I haven’t read any of the other Sigma Force novels (this is the tenth book in the series), but I can certainly see the appeal. Still, I found it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief (and I am a master of that particular skill). Although Rollins lays out the scientific principles and the current technology in the Author’s Notes at the end of the book, I still found it a bit much. A friend who has read the whole series says that they get “more eye-rolly” as they go on, which means I would probably love the early books. Although I sped through this one in pretty short order and enjoyed the twists and turns, I didn’t love it. It needed just a little more grounding in reality for me.

My copy of The 6th Extinction was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.


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