D.J. Molles’ book, The Remaining, is an entertaining military fiction set in the USA as a zombie- like virus sweeps its way through the populace. The book is written well enough, but the flaws I noticed in his world building and storytelling were enough to really damage the quality of the book for me. While the characters weren’t completely flat, they sometimes came off as incongruent and I did not really relate to them. If you enjoy military zombie fiction, you may enjoy this book, otherwise I’d just move along.
1. The book has quite a few logical inconsistencies. For example, early in the book the main character, a grown man who focuses on staying physically fit, has issues and complains how difficult it is to get his dog out of his bunker (he’s got to push/carry the dog up a ladder). Later in the story a 13 year old boy, who is probably half to 3/4ths the height of the main character and probably sports about a quarter of his strength, somehow manages to get the dog up and out of the bunker by himself.
2. As mentioned earlier, while his characters do not fall completely flat, I did not find them to be incredibly engaging or interesting.
3. I feel like Molles was heavily dependant on his character making the wrong decisions to keep his story moving forward.
The Good :
1. The overall story was interesting and generally believable enough to keep me reading from beginning to end; things never got bad enough that I thought about putting the book down.
2. I enjoyed Molles take on his “zombie virus”. His monsters weren’t shambling moaning zombies, they were much more reminiscent of the “zombies” from the 28 Days Later with a little bit of pack instinct thrown in (and I suspect Molles pulled his inspiration from them as the zombies in that film were turned by the RAGE virus, in this book they are turned by the FURY bacteria).
The Meh :
1. The story felt formulaic and was a bit predictable. It felt like the author stuck with most of the hallmarks of a world ruined by disease and didn’t work to slip in anything unique, almost as if working from a template.
2. The main character takes a paring knife to the leg early in the story. The wound requires sutures, and he even goes as far to mention that there is muscle damage. The day after he receives the wound he’s sprinting around and running up hills as if his leg has taken no damage at all.
3. The beginning of the book goes a little overboard with its description of his equipment. I know exactly what kind of camos he wears and why. I know that he attaches x kind of scope to the picatinny rails on his gun. I understand that it’s military fiction, but the description gets a little heavy and detracted from my reading experience.
Story Synopsis :
In this book we follow Captain Lee Hardin, a member of the special government project called Hometown. Members of this project are tasked with being prepared for societal and governmental crash. A zombie-like bacterium strikes the USA hard and sends Lee into his underground bunker with his german shepherd Tango. Time passes and Lee gets twitchy and decides to leave his bunker early. What Lee finds outside of his bunker terrifies and surprises him. He expects to find the earth around his house scorched and ruined, but he is greeted by a healthy looking forest, but the forest and the surrounding countryside hide the infected and mask the true state of the world.