This was a new one for me. The characters in the book ruined what might have otherwise been an interesting story. (But, after reading the one-star reviews on Amazon, I suspect the story ended up being as bad as the characters.)
The blurb of the book was what hooked me. It was something like: "When most of the human race goes extinct, how will the rest survive?" That's one of my favorite plotlines, and the cover image was spiffy (I know, I know), so I decided to give the book a try.
eBook readers like to start you on the first page of the story, but I like starting at the cover. I enjoy seeing the dedications (if any), notes, and the all-important copyright page. Why important? Because that's where the publisher is listed and I can make guesses as to if it's self-published or not. The copyright page of Extinct almost made me stop reading. I'll reproduce it in whole:
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and events have been fabricated only to entertain. If they resemble any facts in any way, I'd be completely shocked. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of Ike Hamill. Unless, of course, you intend to quote a section of the book in order to illustrate how awesome it is. In that case, go ahead. Copyright 2013 by Ike Hamill. All rights reserved.
That's it. That's all that was on the copyright page. No mention of even a fake or self publisher. Nothing. Just that bogglingly unprofessional paragraph. Not even an isbn! Gah!
But since I had the book, I gave it a try. Turns out the story started much earlier than I expected, before all the people vanished. (Which is too bad, as fewer characters would have made the book slightly better.)
We're introduced to Brad. Brad lives alone in the woods. He does something with computers, thus can work remotely. One day Brad goes for a walk in the woods. He finds a vine that moves. A spiked vine. It wraps around his ankle. He goes home, his leg swells up like hell, and so he takes a nap. He wakes up days later.
Does this worry Brad? Nope. He goes back to his normal life. A week or so later he walks out into the woods again. The vines have grown like wildfire. They actively reach for him. They give off a scent that sends him deep into daydreams, long enough that the vines can cross half the distance to him. He wakes up enough to notice that, then back to daydreaming. He wakes up again, describes this as a game of Red Light, Green Light with the vines sneaking up on him. Telling himself he's no botanist, he figures this is fine plant behavior and goes back home and to his life.
A week later he returns again. The vines have taken over a giant field. Some kind of massive rock/animal is living in the middle of them. The vines go crazy trying to get him. The scent is there. They make some kind of sound that draws him in. The vines have flowers, one of every color in a row, so a red flower with an orange next to it and a yellow next to it, down the rainbow. Finally Brad wonders if this isn't normal.
Who does Brad call?
A) The FBI
B) The police
C) His old college roommate from 20 years ago who once took a botany class
C. Gods above, the characters (all of them!) were just so stupid. Except the kid. The other main character was a kid who was smarter than anyone else (not really that hard, I guess...). Worst of all, whenever he was in the same scene with adults, the adults got even more stupid just so the kid could look smarter!
With much struggle, I made it to 50% of the book before I started skimming. Sadly, the writer did have some skill -- the scary scenes were actually scary, and there were a couple of them. I really wanted to know how he'd wrap the plot up. Based on the Amazon reviews, it's good that I stopped reading, because the book actually went downhill from there and apparently the plot made no sense at all and was never explained.
The book may be on sale at Amazon right now ($2), but I couldn't recommend it if it were free.
Further proof that Amazon reviews mean nothing anymore: It has 27 five star reviews, 28 four stars, and 15 three stars. I'd give it one.