Edge of Extinction by Kristen Stone
Original, unexpected and a completely welcome surprise. Edge of Extinction is one of those thrillers you don't know what to make of when you first pick it up. Once you do pick it up and find yourself a little ways in, it's hard to put down. Captivating and original, I think that of all the books I've read so far this year - both independently and traditionally published - this one is my favorite.
Told from the first person perspective, it is the story of an intelligent stone age man facing an extraorinary situation: a situation that no ordinary man could resolve. But Kianda Mala is no ordinary man. Born with a tail and otherwise unusual physical characteristics for his people, Kianda demonstrates strength and wisdom that quickly elevate him to a position of leadership within his community. He is even viewed as a god. However, his god-like status and leadership qualities are put to the test when the people of his village become ill and many start dying. Even Kianda is not spared from the illness.
Together with two fellow hunters, Kianda must set out from his tiny community hidden deep in the rainforest to find the source of the illness. When the group comes across a mine at the scarred edge of the jungle they see the workings of the mine, the enormous tailings slope and the severe contamination of the river caused by effluent. Without knowing anything of what they're up against, the three men enter the mine through a ventilation tunnel and the real story of survival begins. It's not just a story of Kianda's survival; it's that of his people and others who are pulled into Kianda's story while trying to prevent the extinction of an undiscovered group of indigenous people.
As a thriller, this story wasn't particularly fast paced. Nor was it slow. It was interesting and the story pulls the reader along at just the right speed. All of the characters are relateable on some level, but it's the main character's voice, so clear and engaging throughout that really keeps the reader drawn in. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a novel this much and I recommend it without hesitation - particularly to those who are looking for something a little different. Five stars.
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