The Remaining by D. J. Molles
A SOLDIER’S MISSION IN A RAVAGED WORLD: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD.
In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker twenty feet below ground, a soldier waits for his final orders.
On the surface, a bacterium has turned over 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed.
But now the day has come when he must open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into the chaos .
It seems like only a couple of days since I was reading a book about the end of the world and the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I finished it off, picked up the next book in my review pile, and it turned out to be a book about the end of the world and the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Like I said in my last review – zombies, they’re just so hot right now!
The Remaining follows Captain Lee Harden, a specially selected operative, as he attempts to fulfil his final mission. The America he grew up in has almost entirely disappeared in a matter of a few short weeks. From the ashes of society he has been tasked with starting again. Harden’s only companion is his dog, Tango, and after nearly a month underground, effectively alone, he is beginning to get more than a little jittery. Molles does a great job of capturing the boredom the Captain feels, and how that begins to morph into a sense of isolation and dread. The moments covering Harden’s first foray back into the outside world are particularly well handled; the expectation and excitement tempered with a good old dose of paranoia covered eloquently in a handful of pages.
Febrile Urocanic Reactive Yersinia (suitably appropriate acronym for the win!) turns out to be a particularly nasty nemesis when it comes to your average world destroying plague. It ensures almost every exposed victim will become a rage-fuelled killing machine. Ok, I’m sure you’ve probably noticed, this isn’t a zombie novel in the strictest sense. The infected certainly aren’t dead when they’re causing mayhem. That said, they are extremely violent and very, VERY angry so I’m willing to let that slide. I certainly wouldn’t mess with them.
The infected that Captain Harden encounters want nothing more than to cause him pain, and tear him limb from limb. In addition, the other thing he has to contend with are the few pockets of survivors. Not everyone has fallen foul of the infection. Though society has almost completely broken down there are still those willing to do anything to make a play for control. There is a power vacuum and someone is inevitably going to try and fill it.
Though they have similar subject matter The Remaining is a completely different animal from the last “zombie” novel I read. The Ghoul Archipelago was all about the action, nastiness and ramping the gore up to the nth degree, while The Remaining relies far more on tension and suspense to provide its horrific moments. Now don’t get me wrong, both are equally valid in my opinion. They are just different interpretations of similarly horrible events. As a dyed in the wool horror fan I am always keen to experience as many different styles of storytelling as is possible.
The closest thing I can equate The Remaining to is the second season of The Walking Dead. Like its televisual counterpart large chunks of the narrative relies on creating a sense of tension. There is an oppressive atmosphere that keeps building and building until you’re begging for some sort of release. These peaks and troughs make for a gripping read.
My only problem with The Remaining is that there is no real resolution. It swiftly becomes clear that this is just the first part of a much larger narrative. Personally, I could easily have read another couple of hundred pages. As it stands this reads like an introduction, just a single episode of a longer story arc. I enjoyed what I read, but I think I expected more. I have my suspicions regarding how events are going to play out and I’m curious to see if I’m right or not. I’m also keen to see if future books in this series will spend more time exploring some of the characters’ history. We learn little about Harden and the other survivors before the plague and I would like to see this explored in more depth.
Overall, I enjoyed The Remaining. It’s a solidly entertaining action adventure with just enough horror to keep things nice and tense. I look forward to discovering what happens next. I do hope things get worse before they get better, I’m evil that way.
The Remaining is published by Orbit and is available now. The second book in the series, The Remaining – Aftermath, is due for release on 24th June.