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The Meek (Unbound Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Post apocalyptic is a really hard genre to write, I think, in that it's really hard to do it in a way that doesn't feel tired and used. There are only so many ways the world can end. Finding one that is new is nearly impossible, so we rely on the authors to make the experience of the aftermath new. J. D. Palmer does just that in his novel, The Meek. He rips you through the pages into the emotional aftermath of a world gone wrong.
The reader lives with Harlan as he stumbles through torture, captivity, and despair. A young man who was questioning his position in the world filled with people is now forced to face himself and his own demons (recent and distant past). I love a book that can make me feel, and Palmer does an amazing job of this. The horror of their captivity, the distrust of others, the despair of ever being anything more than somebody at the bottom rung, the belief that even if your place isn't a good place, it is where you were meant to be; it all becomes something the reader experiences through Harlan. The relationship that builds between Harlan and Beryl is so real. There are ups and downs and hovering spectre of possible love alive. But there is the very real connection that people have when they have suffered alongside one another.
Palmer is a master at the perfect rollercoaster. His characters find a bit of peace to recuperate before he rips them back into the uncertainty and terror of being just 2 against the masses...and the masses are rabid. Charismatic leaders reminiscent of the Governor in TWD vie with religious nutjobs and militaristic patriots for the creepiest facet of humanity faced by the MCs. The adrenaline rushes followed by peaceful lulls in which you think they might actually get a break create a story that doesn't compel you, it propels you. You are shoved forward into the next horror of humanity, and you start jonesing for that next adrenaline fix while silently praying for a moment of peace.
Through it all is the overwhelming question of morality. When society is no longer around to hold you accountable...what is moral? Saving the ones you love at the possible detriment to the human race? Putting your own needs above that of humanity? Sacrificing the ones you know and love for the greater good? Does turning a blind eye to things because they don't involve you make you a monster or a survivalist? What is too much? what will force you to act? Palmer is a true storyteller, leading us on a heart-breaking chase through a plausible reality, should society come to a screeching halt. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I am definitely going to be reading the rest.
Told from the first person of a drifter who is fighting his personal demons, and then the world shifts and he doesn't become a super hero, a ninja, no super powers, just some pure grit, a little help from those as broken, if not more, than he is. Of course there are evil bad people, but they aren't cookie cutter, they aren't expected.
The writing is so dark, but it sucked me in and I couldn't put this book down, even though, at times, it felt like it was too much, too personal, too sad and horrible, but I couldn't stop reading.
The Meek isn't pleasant, or easy to read, but it's probably one of the best post end of the world books I have ever read. The world, the people left, the broken, the cruel, the twisted, the desperate, the frightened, it was hard to read because the author makes it feel so real, so visceral, that I almost expected to look out the door and see that world.
J. D. Palmer and all he carries within him are unknown to me, yet every cell of me wants to meet him again in the characters and surprises, suspense and wrenching dramas he pens next.
Now on my second re-read (for the sake of savoring the lessons), Palmer unfettered me and drove me from quietness to question fundamentals and prepare to become a decisive and nobler protector.