Review: Extinction Aftermath (Extinction Cycle Book 6) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review:

ecycle6

Odds are, if you’re reading a review of this sixth installment in Nick Smith’s popular Extinction Cycle series, you’re already a fan and I won’t be able to tell you much you don’t already know. If you’ve not yet picked up any of these books, and provided that military horror thriller creature features are your bag, then you’ll want to stop here and proceed directly to the first book in this series, Extinction Horizon.

Extinction Aftermath picks up in the months following Extinction End, and Team Ghost, now under the leadership of Master Sergeant Joe “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, is preparing to invade Europe in an effort to quell the Variant threat overseas. Back at home, Reed Beckham is settling into civilian life with the very pregnant Dr. Kate Lovato, and President Ringgold is trying to stitch America back together through a series of Safe Zone Territories. Needless to say, everything goes to hell in a handbasket, and pretty darn quickly, too.

For my money, Aftermath just might be the best EC book yet, which says quite a bit about Smith’s growth as an author and thriller writer. This title hits a few sweet spots that I’ve been waiting for the series to tackle, particularly taking the war to Europe (we get plenty of well-staged action scenes in France) and the introduction of some quite interesting mutations on the Variant side of things. The cover gives you a good hint of what one such mutation Smith’s introduces is, but there’s a few others that are pretty spiffy.

More intriguing, though, is the sense of scope Aftermath possesses. Now that the war against the Variants has gone global, there’s a great sense of sprawling epicness to the story, with the action taking us from the shores of France, back home to Plum Island, Florida, and a few other locales. And the new threat facing America serves to heighten and propel the threats abroad to dangerous levels, while also raising the stakes for our series heroes considerably.

My only real complaint with Aftermath is the lack of resolution. Nearly every plot thread ends on a cliff-hanger, some bigger than others, making this book merely a prelude to the next novel, Extinction War. On the other hand, it’s not like I wasn’t going to continue on with this series regardless. Even if everything had been neatly wrapped up, I’d still be plunking down the cash for whatever Smith has lined up next. From the looks of it, Book 7 should certainly be a doozy.

 

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Review: Extinction Aftermath (Extinction Cycle Book 6) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review: Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review:

HELL DIVERS

After five Extinction Cycle novels (and a sixth on the way!), Hell Divers, the first installment in a brand-new series from Nicholas Sansbury Smith, is a refreshing change of pace. While it has all the hallmarks of Smith’s usual brand of brimstone and bullets, its premise goes a long way in making this a distinct entry in this author’s oeuvre.

In both the Orbs and Extinction Cycle books, Smith approaches his doomsday scenarios as fresh threats to humanity on the brink of destruction with The End Of The World As We Know It just right around the corner or rapidly in progress. In Hell Divers, the apocalypse has already happened and, two hundred years after Trump’s presidency later, mankind has been reduced to roughly a thousand souls spread out across two airships, the Ares and the Hive. The Earth below them is a radioactive wasteland, the skies treacherous with the constant threat of electrical storms. After Ares is damaged, the Hell Divers (think futuristic paratroopers with wildly short lifespans) aboard the Hive are sent on a rescue mission. Soon enough, they find out the ground is not as lifeless as they thought, as marauding bands of vicious creatures they dub Sirens are out to get them.

One thing Smith does exceptionally well are action scenes, and there’s plenty of those to go around here as Xavier Rodriguez (otherwise known as X) and his team do battle across frozen wastelands, and the shipboard Militia stave off homegrown threats, as well as more elemental troubles. When the Divers do their diving, there’s some legitimate excitement to the sequences and Smith does a terrific job describing this horrific adrenaline rush. Ground combat is equally fierce, although the Sirens could use a little more oomph. As a fan of the Extinction Cycle series, I didn’t find these mutant killers quite as intriguing as the Variants. However, with two more books on the way, Smith certainly has plenty of space left to flesh out the concepts introduced here.

On the character front, X is the strong dashing male hero, and Captain Ash is the strong-willed woman in charge of the Hive – both are great characters, and get their own moments to shine. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about these characters, as well as their lives aboard ship, and the ten-year-old Tin has all the makings of a heroic prodigy if he survives all the threats life in the skies brings.

There’s a lot about Hell Divers that feels comfortably familiar, but Smith freshens it up with a new coat of paint and shakes up the formula of his previous series enough to avoid feeling derivative of his other apocalyptic military thrillers. I think he’s on to the start of something that could be pretty bold here, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for the Hive, and readers, with future installments. Onward and upward!

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

 

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Review: Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

April Read & Reviewed Round-Up

May’s off to a good start so far. I’m currently reading Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts and have an ARC of the upcoming Sinister Grin title, Mayan Blue, by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, aka The Sisters of Slaughter. Mayan Blue comes out later this month, so expect a review in the coming weeks. You can pre-order it now though!

In the meantime, here’s a round-up of the books read and audiobooks listened to in the month of April.

  1. Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon
  2. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  3. WEBCAM by Jack Kilborn
  4. Kill Baxter by Charlie Human
  5. Pressure by Brian Keene
  6. Extinction End by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Now, Dark Matter doesn’t come out until the end of July, but this was easily, hands-down, not only my favorite read of April, but one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. You can, and should, pre-order it right now. I fully expect you to see this book popping up again on this site at year’s end when I list my annual favorites. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that Dark Matter and Jonathan Janz’s Children of the Dark are this year’s front-runners for Best Of. They are just that god damned good.

Speaking of Children of the Dark, the ebook is currently on sale for only $2.99 – it’s normally six or seven bucks if I recall correctly. It’s completely worth it even at the higher price tag, but for $3, this is a no-brainer must-buy. Please go check it out at Amazon today! (You can read my review here.)

April Read & Reviewed Round-Up

Review: Extinction End (Extinction Cycle Book 5) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review:

ExtinctionEnd

You’d think after five books, the Extinction Cycle might start to get a bit stale. Somehow, though, Nicholas Sansbury Smith has managed to keep this series rocking and rolling, presenting a cross-genre affair that continues to impress and excite.

I’ve really appreciated the way Smith continues to up the ante, transforming the Variant threat into a global crises that only grows more and more complicated. The elements involved in crafting an Extinction book work wonderfully well, and Smith ties up action, science, horror, and military thriller into a tight, impossible to put down read. Even after five books, I’m still on the edge of my seat.

Here, Team Ghost, led as always by Reed Beckham, are making their last-ditch push toward ending the threat of the monstrous Variants, whose offspring have evolved some particularly nasty new elements that allow Smith to craft several wonderfully gruesome scenes. Packed with a ton of action and a lot of heart, we’re taken across multiple front lines on land and at sea as Team Ghost contends with monsters and monstrous humans. The fighting is intense and masterfully crafted (a staple of this series), right on up through an excellent climax that blends the suspense and action of Aliens and Die Hard (or maybe Under Siege is a better example), with a lot of heart-string tugging and plenty more “oh sh–” moments.

For all intents and purposes, this is supposedly the last book in the series, although there’s plenty of wiggle room left for another book if the author so chooses. And if it is, in fact, the last book, rest assured that Smith is not resting on his laurels here.

I’ve been a big fan of this series, and this might be the best entry of the lot. Smith gets full-on cinematic in his epicness here. As far as I’m concerned, this is a fitting conclusion for Sgt. Reed Beckham, Dr. Kate Lovato, and the other members of Team Ghost. If we do get a sixth book down the line, I’ll definitely be reading it (especially if Smith presents some of the catastrophe and struggle in Europe or Asia. This series has been focused on the US front-lines of the war, but I’m itching to see a more global examination of the story.). If we don’t, then it’s been a fantastic run for Smith, his characters, and this reader in particular.

Hoorah!

 

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Review: Extinction End (Extinction Cycle Book 5) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review: Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

extinctionCover1About Extinction Horizon

THE WORST OF NATURE AND THE WORST OF SCIENCE…
WILL BRING THE HUMAN RACE TO THE BRINK…
OF EXTINCTION

Master Sergeant Reed Beckham has led his Delta Force Team, codenamed Ghost, through every kind of hell imaginable and never lost a man. When a top secret Medical Corps research facility goes dark, Team Ghost is called in to face their deadliest enemy yet–a variant strain of Ebola that turns men into monsters.

After barely escaping with his life, Beckham returns to Fort Bragg in the midst of a new type of war. The virus is already spreading… As cities fall, Team Ghost is ordered to keep CDC virologist Dr. Kate Lovato alive long enough to find a cure. What she uncovers will change everything.
Total extinction is just on the horizon, but will the cure be worse than the virus?

About the Author

Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the author of several post-apocalyptic books and short stories. He worked for the State of Iowa for nearly 10 years before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t daydreaming about the apocalypse he’s likely racing in triathlons around the Midwest. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family and several rescued animals.If you’d like to hear more about Nick’s books, you can join his spam free mailing list here: http://bit.ly/NicholasSansburySmith.Or visit Nick at: http://nicholassansbury.com.

My Thoughts

[I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
Reading a Nicholas Sansbury Smith novel is like watching an epic big-screen, end of the world action flick. The plot is high-concept, the story is visceral, and the heroes are nicely etched and worth rooting for. It’s the sort of book that propels the reader forward with every page, and demands to be read in a single sitting because it’s just so damn uncompromisingly addicting.
I came upon Smith’s Orbs novels on NetGalley a few months back and pegged him as an author to watch out for. With his latest, Extinction Horizon, the first in a new series, he fully lives up to the promise exhibited in those earlier novels. And, dare I say, I think I like this book even more than its (entirely unrelated) predecessors.
Extinction Horizon is a real rip-roaring techno-thriller, and it hits all those delicious sweet spots that I tend to favor – there’s a dose of credible-enough science and a team of scientists, working alongside well-trained US soldiers, to solve a nightmarish end-times scenario, and grisly, tense, rapid-fire action throughout. This is a James Rollins level of fun, and it’s a genre I absolutely love. Smith’s elevator pitch for the novel is The Hot Zone meets World War Z, and if it’s certainly an apt description (and, frankly, if that doesn’t grab your attention, I have no idea what will).
Given the recent over-reactions regarding the Ebola outbreak Stateside, this is also a very timely work. The plot revolves around modifying Ebola with another potent, top-secret viral weapon, to create an even deadlier pathogen. And, of course, that works out about as well as you would expect it to… The nasty bits start flying, and yada, yada, yada, there’s a zombie-like outbreak tearing across the globe and destroying humanity. I really enjoyed Smith’s take on the infected, and zombie is probably too simplistic a comparison. Think of something zombie-like crossed with a little bit of the flukeman from The X-Files, with incredible strength and reflexes. They’re a legitimately gonzo, hostile threat.
Extinction Horizon is a white-knuckle thrill ride, filled with action and loads of suspense. I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait to see what comes next. Highly Recommended!
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Review: Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Sci-Fi November: Review: Orbs II: Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Orbs2Covernew

About Orbs II: Stranded

Dr. Sophie Winston and her team of survivors fend off the alien invasion in Orbs II: Stranded, the second book in Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s bestselling Orbs series.

At the end of the world, who can you trust?

The aliens have invaded, wiping out almost all life on earth. Their goal: water. Huge spaceships are draining the oceans, and the few remaining humans have been herded into farms, where their bodies are harvested to support the growing alien army.

Humanity’s last chance lies in the biospheres that have been planted secretly across the globe. But all is not peaceful in the biosphere led by Dr. Sophie Winston. With resources dwindling and tensions high, her small group of survivors is divided. Some want to fight, some want to stay hidden, and Sophie just wants to keep everyone alive.

When one of their own, eleven-year-old Jeff, is kidnapped by the Organics, Sophie is forced to pick sides. With the help of a promising new magnetic weapon, the biosphere team just might have a fighting chance to save Jeff and the world–if they live long enough to use it.


About the Author

Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the author of several post-apocalyptic books and short stories. He worked for the State of Iowa for nearly 10 years before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t daydreaming about the apocalypse he’s likely racing in triathlons around the Midwest. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family and several rescued animals.

If you’d like to hear more about Nick’s books, you can join his spam free mailing list here: http://bit.ly/NicholasSansburySmith.

Or visit Nick at: http://nicholassansbury.com.


My Thoughts

(I received a copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s Orbs II: Stranded continues the story begun in Orbs. As with most second books in a trilogy, the aim is to open up the world, make the threats an even larger obstacle, and put everybody into tight situations while paving way for the big finale in book three. Sometimes these ‘middle child’ books fail to deliver or lack a satisfying enough hook, but Smith does a good job of keeping his story flowing while making Stranded feel like a worthwhile read in its own right.

In the prior novel, aliens (dubbed the Organics in this series) invaded Earth and began stripping the planet of its water supply. The human population was decimated, and it seemed like Dr. Sophie Winston and her team of research scientists may have been the only survivors. So, it’s a bit of a shock to learn that the aliens are actually keeping a good number of people alive and imprisoning them for later consumption by the bug-like ground troops of Spiders and Worms.

After Jeff, a child that Sophie and a Marine named Overton rescued in the previous book, is abducted, Overton launches a rescue mission and discovers a few members of his old platoon are still alive.

This inciting event lays the groundwork for the story and allows Smith to expand the scope of his series. The human farms, and the existence of another survivor, Alex, from another one of NTC’s failed biosphere projects, help to round out the idea that maybe humanity is not so doomed after all. The introduction of two new aliens species, though, such as the Steam Beast, a massive triceratops-like behemoth, certainly put the team through their paces.

There’s also a greater focus on the characters and their relationships to one another in this outing. Sophie and Overton are at each others throats constantly and the fatigue of leadership is taking its toll on both, while Holly, the biosphere’s psychiatrist, struggles with hopelessness. Stranded is a more emotionally engaged novel than its predecessor, but the main focus is still on the war between humanity’s last remnants and the Organics as they battle for a drastically altered Earth. The focus on character development is certainly welcomed, and nicely done, and sets up a touching, emotionally charged climax.

Smith draws the various elements of Stranded together in an action-packed finale that has a few shockers and revelations, particularly in regards to the true nature of the Organics. As with its predecessor, this book charges on full-steam ahead and is a rousing, energetic read. Fans of fast-paced, military science fiction should find a lot to enjoy in the Orbs series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Smith resolves things in the final book, Orbs III: Redemption.

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Sci-Fi November: Review: Orbs II: Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Sci-Fi November: Review: Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

orbs

About Orbs

The first thrilling story of horror, adventure, and survival during the alien invasion in Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s bestselling Orbs series has been completely remastered and re-edited since its original publication and now features a sneak peak at Orbs II!

At the end of the world, who will survive?

The year is 2061, and the planet is dying. Cataclysmic solar storms have forced leaders from around the world to finally put aside their differences and agree on one thing–to jump ship. The human race is headed to Mars.Dr. Sophie Winston is hired by New Tech Corporation to test a biosphere deep within the heart of Cheyenne Mountain; a mission she believes will help prepare NTC for the three-year flight to the red planet. But, just days into the assignment, things start to go wrong. When the blast doors hiss open, Winton’s team finds a changed world outside. Humans are gone, vanished without a trace, and they aren’t the only thing missing. The planet’s water is gone, too.As the team explores their surroundings, they find thousands of luminous blue orbs lining the streets. It isn’t until they uncover what’s inside that they realize the nightmare that lies ahead.


About the Author

Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the author of several post-apocalyptic books and short stories. He worked for the State of Iowa for nearly 10 years before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t daydreaming about the apocalypse he’s likely racing in triathlons around the Midwest. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family and several rescued animals.If you’d like to hear more about Nick’s books, you can join his spam free mailing list here: http://bit.ly/NicholasSansburySmith.

Or visit Nick at: http://nicholassansbury.com.


My Thoughts

(I received a copy of this novel for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

I’m a bit of a sucker for novels like Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s Orbs. It’s got some cool speculative science, action, monsters, and a team comprised of military and scientists struggling to survive against impossible odds while finding themselves way out of their environment.

In Orbs, the setting is near-future Earth, in the year 2061. The US is recovering from the devastating solar storms of 2055, which left much of the midwest a radioactive wasteland. A plan is in place to evacuate to Mars before our little blue dot becomes completely uninhabitable. A team of scientific researchers are gathered to test a biosphere, tucked away in a Cheyenne Mountain base.

Of course, it’s not long before things go terribly wrong and the researchers have to scrub their mission and reopen the doors to the outside world. What they find is a desolate world in the midst of an alien invasion that is sucking up the Earth’s water content. The lakes, oceans, and rivers are sucked dry, and blue orbs dot the landscape, along with some very strange, very foreign creatures.

Orbs is a fast-paced read that gets by on pure enjoyment and seat-of-your pants thrills. The characterizations are a little bit thin, but the premise is top-notch and exciting. I had a hard time putting this particular read down, and found myself eagerly tapping away at my Kindle’s screen so I could find out what would happen next.

This book hit a particular sweet spot for me, blending together the spirits of Michael Crichton and James Rollins by way of the alien invasion video-game X-COM. Orbs is truly fun romp and well-worth the read. Now, onto Orbs II: Stranded!

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Sci-Fi November: Review: Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith