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?
A relentless, unflinching post-apocalyptic vision, Extinction Horizon is a terrifying what-if scenario of the consequences of scientists experimenting with bio-weapons. The story primarily follows a team of Delta Force Operators, led by Master-Sergeant Reed Beckham, as they struggle to carry out orders amid the growing chaos of a fast-spreading viral outbreak. In tandem, we get to know Dr Kate Lovato, a scientist with the CDC, who is fighting to find a cure for Ebola, but ends up struggling to find one for the bio-weapon-Ebola hybrid they name the Hemorrhage Virus. The Hemorrhage Virus is truly terrifying; it literally transforms people into hemorrhaging, violent, cannibalistic monsters. The bio-weapon latches onto the highly-contagious Ebola virus, with the result that the spread is extremely rapid. The Delta Force Operators spend several stretches of the book in direct combat with the monsters (once human, but little humanity remains after the transformation), making for a gripping read.
The characters in this book were, for me, totally believable. Well-rounded, they each had fears and aspirations, and the events that unfold test them all to their limits. The events themselves – not that far-fetched – and the science is plausible and well-researched. While the story is unquestionably gruesome, I did not feel that this aspect was overdone, or gratuitous; there was a logical explanation within the context of the story that accounted for the horrifying images and actions.
Colonel Gibson, the architect of the VX-99 bio-weapon and the resulting hybrid Hemorrhage Virus, cuts a sympathetic figure in this story. While his decisions have awful consequences, one can understand his motives. It was a relief that he acknowledged his guilt and complicity in the outcome, even before being challenged.
I thought this book was very well written. In selecting the Ebola virus as the main vehicle around which the story revolves, Extinction Horizon is very topical and, consequently, accessible. Smith, whose writing is consistent with his more recent novels, holds nothing back in depicting the horror of the situation the characters face, and draws the reader into the action with skill. I found it very easy to visualise the events as they unfolded.
This is an excellent book, and I have already recommended it to several friends. It is best suited to readers who like a good post-apocalyptic bio-medical thriller, and don’t mind a gruesome tale.