Written by RR Haywood. RRP; £4.99 407PP
Out now from 47North
EXTINCT is the latest in RR Haywood’s time-travelling EXTRACTED series, following a group of characters plucked from their times and into an espionage-heavy plot. It’s not a series I’m overly familiar with, and I must also confess to having a lack of knowledge of the authors work in general. Imagine my surprise then, when upon Googling Mr Haywood, I discover him to be the creator of an incredibly popular zombie series; THE UNDEAD, which is currently on book twenty-two. Not only that but Haywood appears to be something of a cult author with a strong following, a following that is doubtless sure to love this latest work. For me, however, I must confess to feeling somewhat luke-warm towards EXTINCT, even though it’s not a bad book, not at all. The writing style can be a little choppy at times, and the dialogue occasionally falls into the old ‘he says, she says’ trap, but for the most part, it’s fast passed and succinct, allowing the author to concentrate on the action sequences required for the ‘epic conclusion’ to a trilogy.
In this sense then EXTINCTION works well. The action sequences and characters are developed to what seems like a logical conclusion. Specific…’developments’ in the previous books are retconned with the aim of achieving further character interaction and to the extent that’s fine. One thing that this series seems to have garnered steam for is its characters, and within the time-travel context of the series, certain retconning seems inevitable. To me, it seemed grating, but then I’m not an individual to whom retconning appeals, when an incident has taken place I don’t necessarily want that changed, I prefer to see the author work with what they’ve already established. However, to a fan, this would probably not be problematic in the slightest. After all, the EXTRACTION series is built around characters attempting to change time.
My biggest issue with EXTRACTION was the dialogue and the humour injected into it. This may sound like a small issue, but unfortunately, it managed to isolate me as a reader from chapter one. This chapter as mentioned earlier features the main characters arguing over the fact that the toilet, within the bunker that has become their home, is blocked. It’s a running gag that not only continues for some time but these opening moments is a plot point. Now I understand sanitation is a pretty big deal in any home but the jokes applied to this scenario I found to be crude and immature. This sense of humour permeates the entire novel and becomes particularly overpowering in Haywood’s use of swear or curse words. Now I’m no prude, but what I can only call the overuse of specific C and F words got a little too much for my taste. It’s not that these words offend me, but they break the flow of the text by adding an emphasis when one isn’t necessary. The words are dropped into perfectly normal interactions, which may have been the author's intention, perhaps seeking gritty realism. The result, however, is that these interactions appear infantile and characters whom we are aware are incredibly intelligent (the role of Mother in particular) are made to seem puerile. Another issue that distanced me further from the characters, is that a majority are of the ‘gun-toting’ militaristic breed. Haywood attempts to write into them a certain level of a conscience, but at points they still fall into the ‘cool character with a gun’ mould, a mould, which personally I detest.
Quite simply, I don’t think I’m the audience this book was intended for. If you enjoy action-packed science fiction with a gritty feel and hard-boiled characters, then this is probably for you. If however you’ve read this review and sympathised with my opinions thus far then perhaps this is a work best avoided. Haywood seems to have a good following and support given to them by the author on his site is truly inspiring. His words for young authors are generally encouraging, and he seems like a writer who looks after his fans. Those fans are sure to love this; unfortunately, I just didn’t.
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