“Extinction Code” is the first book available in the “Ancient Origins” series, and I’m looking forward to the rest to come. The book is written by James D. Prescott and the audiobook edition is narrated by Gary Tiedemann; a prolific and well-liked narrator of mine. Let me say up front, I enjoyed the book and it often kept me on the edge of my seat while listening. It is an action-packed adventure where two seemingly parallel events converge in an attempt to save not only the individuals but the world itself. As I listened to the book, it reminded me of a blending of “The Sphere” with portions of “The Abyss” including pieces of “The Da Vinci Code”. Place on top of this, the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”, if you liked any of these you will like this book. Also, if you like stories having intrigue, suspense, and mystery, I think you will find this book enjoyable.
The author does an exception job making the characters and scenes feel three dimensional. Each of the characters in the book are given depth and complexity which I found refreshing. You will quickly find that the quote from the X-Files which says, “Trust No One”, is relevant to this book. You are always wondering if you are rooting for the right side or not, and I found myself flipping many times and still surprised at the end. What is even more exciting than to bring a team of scientists and clash them together with the U.S. military, is the discovery of a mysterious object during a drilling event which did not want to be uncovered. Once you have opened Pandora’s box, it becomes very difficult to close it again. Throughout the story, I like the level of research and scientific quips the author drops. Not only am I enjoying a well-written story, but I’m learning along the way. On a side note, I will say that at times the humor felt forced, but this was often required to relieve the built-up tension.
I’m more a technology person than a science one, but I felt the science was rather strong whereas the technology may have been a bit weaker then I prefer. As with television, I understand that deep dives into technology can be tedious and boring for non-technical people. Much of a person’s time spent on hacking is waiting; which is not very interesting. However, I would have like a bit more technology to go with the level of science this book provided. Maybe a bit more jargon or usage would have made the book more enjoyable. How can you not like a book that has hackers, human desires, genetics and aliens? The author did a good job of keeping this all-in check while making the book very interesting and suspenseful.
I liked the rather short chapters making the book easier to digest in smaller pieces. Not until the end of the book do you find out who’s who, keeping the listener questioning. The characters are mostly shrouded in mystery and each has its own issues making you think they are the good or bad guys. The author does a good job of making you always question who you are loyal towards. I felt the scenes and locations were well described, while also allowing me to include a bit of my own imagination. I did not as much enjoy the flipping back and forth between the two teams, but the author did a good job of keeping me engaged during the transitions. There was just enough geopolitical conflict to keep one wondering what could happen next. I found the last chapter of the book quite informative as it lays out the science and other details the book was founded upon, and this was very interesting.
Gary Tiedemann did a wonderful job narrating the book. I have previously reviewed a few of his other books and really enjoy his voice. In a few places I would have like to have had more inflection, but this is more a personal preference then a requirement. By no means do I mean the book monotone or plain, I just would have likes a bit more variety during times of action. The story flowed very well, and the narration was clean and clear. I found no issues with audiobook’s volume or other audio artifacts that can often jolt a listener out of a story. The recording was professional, and the voicing of the many characters was done satisfactorily.
For parents and younger readers. I do not remember, nor did I make note of, any vulgar language used in the book. This does not mean there was none, but it was not prevalent enough for me to make note of it for my review. There are a few elements in the book which could be considered anti-religious or poking fun at religious people, but this is limited and often used in the correct context. There are a few scenes of graphic violence which may be intense for younger readers.
In conclusion, the story is solid, entertaining, and from a discovery perspective an engrossing adventure story. When you have aliens, ASCII codes, and the anticipation of E.T., what could go wrong? For me, the cover art drew me in to listening to the book, but the story itself kept me listening until the end. I would recommend this to anyone who likes disaster type stories or people who like suspenseful and mysterious stories of unknown alien civilizations.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.