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The Sixth Extinction
Sigma Force Series #10
James Rollins

William Morrow
8/12/2014 / ISBN 9780061784811
Mystery / Thriller

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


The Sixth Extinction by James Rollins is another winner. On the tenth anniversary of this series Rollins is able to look into his crystal ball and see the future, although not too distant a future. Consider the current outbreak of the Ebola virus that is spreading faster than it can be controlled spurring New York City to conduct a massive bio-weapons drill. On the tails of the Ebola reality, this novel combines pure science with a very believable storyline that can easily be played out on the world stage, showing the dangers of bio-labs that are attempting to create life-threatening viruses.

The plot is intense from the very beginning. After receiving a distress call from a bio-research scientific lab in California, Park Ranger Jenna Beck and her partner Nikko, a Siberian Husky, investigate only to find a dark cloud of fire and smoke engulfing them. This cloud brings death and destruction, through a bio-engineered virus, to anything in its path. If this unknown force is not stopped, the sixth extinction, the elimination of the human race, would prevail. Sigma Force is called in to prevent this from happening, and find the key to destroying this threat, which lies beneath the Antarctic ice. While the government’s point person, Dr. Raymond Lindahl, leans heavily into using a nuclear option to destroy this organism Jenna and the Sigma team race to the Brazilian Amazon to find an eco terrorist, Elwes Cutter, that is at the root of the problem. He initiated this terrorist act to advance his cause of creating new life through death of existing life. Sigma races the clock to stop Cutter and save not only their teammates, but all of mankind.

Rollins commented, “The starting point for this novel is the bio-punk movement where labs are set up in people’s garages. Because the technology has gotten faster, cheaper, and easier they can do some amazing things in these make shift labs. What is scary and startling is the lack of oversight. I have read about vials of Smallpox being found in the back closet of the National Institute of Health. Nature can build some really indestructible things. The labs have taken that and made these organisms nastier, tougher, easier to spread, and harder to kill, which is the point of this novel.”

Although Rollins classifies his novel as a scientific thriller it is much more. By blending science, technology, and history with a fast action plot he has created a very riveting, realistic, and gripping story. With great character development, including the newly introduced Jenna and Nikko, Rollins is able to warn readers of the dangers of these scientific labs. A quote from the book hammers the point home, “Right now there are fifteen thousand scientists authorized to work with deadly pathogens, but there are zero federal agencies charged with accessing the risks… there’ve been countless reports of mishandling of contagious pathogens, of vials gone missing, of poor records. So when it comes to an accident like this one, it was not a matter of if but of when it would happen.”

Rollins warned, “Regarding the terrorists, there is a very real fear that a terrorist organization can sneak someone into these postdoctoral programs. They can learn how to create or obtain one of these organisms because there is a lack of oversight. They then can use it for a weaponization. We should not reign in the scientists but we do need to be looking over their shoulders with some government policing.”

As with all his recent novels Rollins includes amongst the characters man’s best friend. Rollins, who used to practice as a full-time veterinarian, writes great dog characters, Nikko included. The author uses his past experiences to create heart-wrenching, likeable animals that play an intricate part in the story.

He noted, “After I had written about five or six books a reader pointed out that I included animals as intricate parts of the story. There was the orphan Jaguar cub, a search and rescue dog, a military dog, Kane, and now Nikko. I realized at about the time I started weaning myself from my veterinary practice and writing full time that animals were seeping into my stories. I guess the side of my brain that loves animals brought out these characters. Nikko’s character came about from a picture. I ran a contest last year when The Eye Of God came out. Whatever picture I liked that person would be made a character in this book. The woman who won was Jenna Beck and in her picture was her Siberian Husky, Nikko. She became the main character in the entire book. BTW: I might have Nikko run into Tucker and Kane sometime in the future since I like to mix up my characters.”

He also always gives a shout out to those in the military since many of his characters are former and current military personnel. This year he will also be helping those defending America through his charitable actions. On November 8th he will be attending the Military Book Fair being held on the USS Midway in San Diego California.

Besides a new novel, on the eve of his tenth anniversary of the Sigma Series, Rollins has just signed a new book deal with William Morrow. Fans can look forward to more stories like The 6thExtinction where Rollins takes truth and stretches it to create an intense and believable plot, combining pulsating adventure, intriguing history, and cutting-edge advances in science and technology.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Sandstorm #1
Map of Bones #2
Black Order, #3
The Judas Strain,
The Last Oracle, #5
The Doomsday Key,
The Devil Colony
, #7
#8 [review 1] [review 2]
The Eye of God #9
The Sixth Extinction #10
Seventh Plague #11


Reviewed 2014