The Extincts: Quest for the Unicorn Horn

The Extincts Scott Magoon

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Book Review

Scratch and his team of fellow heroes—Lug, Quinto and Martie—are a team of cloned (and anthropomorphized) creatures who were created for special missions of the utmost importance. Who knows? They just might save the world.

Plot Summary

What do you do when you want to be a hero—in fact when you thought you were a hero—but you find out that you were designed to be something else? That’s exactly what Scratch and his fellow Rescue Ops Acquisition Rangers (or R.O.A.R for short) are dealing with.

The Rangers were pulled together by the mysterious Dr. Z to form a team of anthropomorphized animals to rescue ancient treasures from around the world. In fact, they just finished a mission that involved beating a bad guy and retrieving a large sword made from the teeth of a Megalodon shark. Next, they’ll be loading into the R.O.A.R. jet and zipping off to find a Siberian Unicorn horn in the thawing permafrost of the north—an ancient fossil that legend says has healing properties.

There is one big problem, however. The team has been finding clues that suggest that they’re not just a talented group of animals. In truth, they may be clones of ancient critters long thought to be extinct!

The ever-faithful Lug was made from the DNA of a woolly mammoth. The fly-anything Martie came from passenger pigeon stock. Quinto is a (not-quite-extinct yet) Collin’s poison frog. And Scratch, the team leader, is none other than a saber-toothed tiger. They were all created, it turns out, in Dr. Z’s lab.

And the good doctor may not be as good or philanthropic as Scratch and the team imagined him to be.

So, these friends have some things to think about. What exactly does Dr. Z want with these artifacts the team has been recovering? Have they been helping the world’s natural habitats or hurting them with their efforts? And if they were put together for more nefarious purposes than they thought, what should Scratch and his teammates do next?

They may not have exactly been heroes, but this group of formerly extinct critters can make sure they do the right things going forward. They’ll do what’s right for nature, for themselves, and even for the world.

The Extincts are on the job … making sure no one else goes extinct.

Christian Beliefs

The team must enter into a dangerous underground area that someone has dubbed “the doorway to Hell.”

Other Belief Systems

Trust in some scientific theories is, in a sense, a type of faith. That faith—from theories on the environment to hypotheses about certain fossils—is mixed with fantasy in this tale. The Extincts makes it plain, for instance, that no one has ever found a Rhino-like “Siberian Unicorn” intact, but its existence and its legendary healing properties are a central part of this story. In fact, the horn heals someone late in the tale and even brings life back to a dead environment.

Authority Roles

As the story begins, Scratch has an unwavering faith in Dr. Z and the importance of this “great man’s” mission. Scratch even runs quickly off to receive a call from the doctor in spite of the danger it means to a teammate. With time, however, Scratch realizes that Dr. Z is using the team for his own self-focused cloning projects.

The team also puts faith in the guidance of a computer AI called GAIA that Dr. Z gave them. They later discover that the AI is misleading them as well.

Scratch steps forward to lead the Extincts, but his choices aren’t always the wisest and they sometimes push the group in problematic directions. However, those problems help spur Scratch to the realization that, “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not happiness.”

Profanity & Violence

There are exclamations of words such as “jeez,’ ‘Oh ,scat,” “horse hockey” and a spelled out “OMG.” One large grizzly is also said to be “haulin’ bear butt.”

There’s a running joke in the mix about Lug’s need to go to the bathroom, along with a moment when the Woolly Mammoth levels an area with a long-held gas expulsion.

The Extincts only use non-lethal weapons, such as a gun that shoots squid ink pods. But their enemies, including Dr. Z, aren’t so nice. The team often finds itself in dangerous situations ranging from crumbling landmasses and avalanching mountainsides to ducking from someone trying to shoot or stab them. Someone is stabbed and bloodied by the Megalodon sword, for instance, and would have died if he wasn’t healed by the unicorn horn.

We hear that Dr. Z killed one of Scratch’s family members. Robot animals are destroyed. One area in the team’s travels is crumbling and dangerous because the permafrost is melting, causing the ground to cave in on itself.

Sexual Content

None.

Discussion Topics

This graphic novel is obviously aimed at getting readers to think about our environment and our approach to it. Did it lead you to think of ways that you could be more environmentally friendly?

What about the Extincts themselves? Did this book give you information about some animals you may have never heard of?

The author used a fun adventure to creatively get across a point. Have you done anything like that before? Is there a fun way that you could use an art project or a story to communicate important ideas to others?

What was your favorite part of this book?

Get free discussion question for books at focusonthefamily.com/magazine/thriving-family-book-discussion-questions.

Additional Comments

This is a light-weight graphic novel that uses animal characters, humor, and adventure to get kids thinking about the environment and their role in it. It also offers glossary terms focused on extinct animals and climate change.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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