The Remaining is a digital publishing sensation – another one of those run away hits on the internet propelling DJ Molles to be the poster-child of self-publishing. And it’s built up for a good reason: this book while still expounding on the well-trodden path of a zombie novel, still retains that sense of creeping horror and urgency characteristic of a well written and well researched novel. You’ve dozens of books on the post-apocalyptic theme where the world is over-run by infected diseased beings – more than a good share having executed this theme pretty well. So what makes The Remaining an internet phenomenon and now has got snapped up by the biggies as well being commissioned for a movie?
I haven’t cracked that question yet. But what I got when I read the book was a crackerjack of a zombie novel that never lets up on the pacing and action till the end and is a compelling read indeed. It’s a plot we’ve seen before – Captain Lee Hardin is sequestered within an underground bunker – well trained and stocked up with supplies to last through a cataclysm should one befall the world. And it does – much to the disbelief of the captain where more than 90% of the world population falls prey to a “bacterial” infection – which the FEMA/Scientists have termed as “FURY” ( that expands to a mouthful of science jargon that we ain’t really concerned about) – a disease that worms and eats through a human brain leaving him or her as less than human with only basic motor senses and a vapid sense of mad hunger for flesh. With the US Government now dysfunctional, it is Lee’s mission to locate survivors as the sole representative of governmental authority and to provide them with the supplies to survive and thrive again. Thirty days after the outbreak, Lee waits for his “coordinator’s” message to get back up on terra firma and start going about his mission. And from the first encounter with an infected, a young fifteen year old girl with a knife and astonishingly fast motor responses, Lee’s mission starts off going downhill. The rest of the breakneck paced novel sees Lee band up against not just the infected but the greed-gone-evil human gang-lords in trying to survive himself and also get his band of survivors to safety.
The book is by no means unique – it panders to the comfort reader in us but does it so well that it seems refreshingly original. Deep down the layers of that slick internet marketing and the phenomenal word of mouth publicity that has driven the sales of this book, it’s just another zombie lit done really well. What appealed to me outside of the slick movie-like pacing was the bond that Captain Lee develops with his band of survivors and most endearing was his constant companion and watch dog, Tango. It’s heart rending – and DJ Molles dwells well on the human mind that is trying to outthink and out-survive the dastardly plague situation they are all stuck in. Pain staking research on the weapons and the hunting techniques surfaces written in lucid prose peppered with the horror-movie style situations of prey-and-predator-hunting in shadows and the dark. Moments that stretch longer with the heart beat going faster by the second and then explodes in your face with bullets and bombs zipping around and the survivors scrambling. It’s well done – but it still reads like something that you would have read before. In terms of characterization, Captain Lee – the main protagonist of the series is a little annoying. Being well trained and having stocked up for such a situation, his cocky attitude makes for some careless moments that balloons up into drama that could have been avoided. But in the end, he’s what you got and you better stick with him. Perhaps he finds redemption in the later parts of the series.
You will love this book. It’s guaranteed. It’s already riding on a high wave of WOM publicity but there is nothing that makes this book unique among the over-infested zombie lit floating around. A solid story that is entertaining but offers no answers to the myriad questions that arise and thus paves way for a series that tantalizes and hooks you in – written with a breakneck plot pace, featuring blood-thirsty infected “humans” that are mad with “fury”. A three stars zombie lit just well done.