The Remaining by D.J. Molles – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings” reviews The Remaining by D.J. Molles, the first in the zombie series of the same name that was initially self-published in 2012, and has now been picked up by a traditional publisher – Orbit Books. This is currently available to buy in both the USA and the UK.
“A fun, action packed read that although suffers from a poor main character, is for the most part, entertaining and enjoyable – and allows for a great new take on zombies.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The first volume in D.J. Molles’s bestselling series, now in a special edition with the bonus novella The Remaining: Faith.
In a steel-and-lead encased bunker a Special Forces soldier wait on his final orders.
On the surface a bacterium has turned 90% of the population into hyper-aggressive predators.
Now Captain Lee Harden must leave the bunker and venture into the wasteland to rekindle a shattered America.
I’ll read pretty much anything post apocalyptic, not only because I love the genre, but also post apocalyptic fiction 8 times out of 10 will zombies and zombies are awesome. So with that in mind, I gave The Remaining a try, the first novel in the titular Remaining series by D.J. Molles, set in a world where a bacterium turned 90% of the population into aggressive predators.
We follow Captain Lee Harden, a Special Forces soldier in this world, and he’s our eyes and ears in the book for the most part – which like most stories of this type, take place in America. (Not a gripe about the book or anything, but I would love to see a zombie survival story set in London (or anywhere else in the UK for that matter) that isn’t Sean of the Dead for a change). Lee Harden is a fairly fun character to have as the main narrator, and unlike certain zombie fiction where the survivors aren’t normally involved with the military, Lee is a trained soldier – and this of course gives him an edge when it comes to fighting the new, hyper-aggressive predators.
However, don’t mistake the zombies for Walking Dead or World War Z copies. Rather than just being mindless fast or slow creatures, they can still talk. They’re smart too, and can plan tactics. You think mindless zombies are scary? Imagine what zombies could do if they actually could do more than just walk about in a large horde until they find something to eat? This change from the norm makes for an interesting read, but unfortunately there are several parts that didn’t make this book quite as good as it could have been.
First of all, for an Army Captain, Lee Harden makes a lot of stupid decisions, which was bugging me throughout the book. Molles’ character isn’t as well developed as he could have been, and unfortunately doesn’t have the sticking power that other characters have done in debut novels which is a shame because survival stories typically have a very small amount of cast, so if you don’t like the main protagonist then unfortunately there’s normally very little else. Take Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels for example – one of my favourite novels from the sub-genre. Although obviously they’re different – Temple has a far greater impact on the reader than Harden does which is a shame. However, that said – there are more books in the series though, so it there’s a chance that he could grow on me as a character.
The combat sequences are fun to read, with some well written action from Molles. Whilst characters aren’t necessarily his strongest suite, he manages to deliver some entertaining action that does not disappoint – which is unfortunately falling into the trap of your average zombie read – good action, but the characters are usually poor.
Molles gets the pacing pretty much spot on however, the book moves fast. Despite any problems that I had with it, The Remaining managed to be a good page-turner, and I really sped through this book finishing it quickly. It’s also a decent enough start that I wouldn’t mind returning to the series if I was able to get ahold of the second book. It’ll be interesting to see if Moles improves, that’s for sure – because he’s got all the templates for a great storyline. Just improve the character work and we could have a great zombie thriller.
If you love zombies and want a refreshing twist on the sub-genre then this book may be up your street. Character development aside, The Remaining is a relatively solid book that’s action packed with some well written fight sequences – and as a result, it comes cautiously recommended – but obviously some will enjoy this more than others.