DJ Molles’ The Remaining tells the story of the US actually almost being prepared for the zombie apocalypse. Though this doesn’t work out for them as well as they might hope, it still creates an interesting story following Lee Harden in his mission to understand what has happened and start rebuilding society from the ground up. Should be an easy mission, right?
Lee Harden is part of a contingency plan for the US Government. In case of some disaster, be it natural or man-made, Lee is to take to his specially designed, self-sustained bunker and wait to see what happens. If he does not hear from the government, he is to wait thirty days before emerging and performing his duty: to reestablish government and social order.
Lee has been in “the hole” many times before while waiting out instructions. It has never been a truly serious thought in his mind that he might be one of the last hopes for the US one day; all he knows is that he gets paid well and occasionally hunkers down in his underground bunker for a few days. This time, however, is different. One day, his military contact doesn’t check in like he has been every day since Lee was told to go to “the hole.” Lee waits the 48 hours he is supposed to, then opens a box with his mission objectives. Inside, he finds out that there is a horrible disease attacking the citizens of the US that eats away at their brains until they only have primal instincts, causing them to focus on predatory urges, eating, and drinking. They become violent, cannibalistic, and dangerous.
Lee can’t believe what he reads for a while, but then he ventures out from his bunker and is attacked by a young girl with a knife. Shaken into accepting reality, Lee must start his mission, which is to rescue all the people he can and band them together in order to rebuild America. The only problem is that it is going to be much tougher than he could have imagined.
The Remaining is built on a unique concept but falls short of remaining unique. It is a decent read, though a run-of-the-mill zombie survival novel. As it follows a well-supplied (for most of the novel) military guy, there isn’t too much drama involved in the survival. Lee is a bit frustrating as a main character, mainly in his complacency and cockiness. Yes, he is well supplied, well-trained, and thinks he can handle the situation, but after being stabbed in the leg by a crazed 15-year-old girl, one would think a bit of caution would be necessary. This isn’t true for Lee, though. Until he has to hurt himself in order to escape the clutches of a gang, kill his dog, and lose one of the few friends he knows in the new world, Lee remains far too sure of himself.
So far as the apocalypse goes, it was interesting to read about a different sort of zombie virus that didn’t kill, but mainly brought primitive urges to the forefront. The violent tendencies and prey drive are understandable, as well as the aspect of being pack animals, but there was no trace of the urge to mate and procreate. Was this drive fulfilled by spreading the disease? That seems like a large instinct to leave out, as the main goal of most biological life forms is to make other biological life forms.
In all, the book was a quick read that wasn’t boring at any point. There were frustrating parts and a couple of words that were spelled wrong, but otherwise it wasn’t a bad buy at $2.99. It held my interest all the way through and had me wanting to read more, which is important. I’d say the story was mediocre, the writing was easy to read, and the characters were very ordinary. Regardless, the book was still a decent zombie lit novel and would probably satisfy most zombie aficionados that are focused more on the human elements of zombie apocalypse rather than the omg-zombies-are-eating-people-run-now aspect.
Speculative Fiction Challenge – book # 9