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Remnants: A Record of Our Survival Kindle Edition
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This is the story of a year in the life of the Keanes family, or what’s left of it, told entirely through the often interrupted blog entries of twelve-year-old Allie Keanes. As a result of the blight, a highly contagious viral disease, a collapsed, post-apocalyptic North America contains two opposing groups: those not-yet-infected, like the Keanes; and blight survivors, who, contrary to typical zombie fare, retain most all of their human faculties but now have a ravenous appetite for human flesh.
Okay, fine. Medical explanations and psychological understanding aside, the setup works okay, really. I mean the story starts well and I agree with our little narrator that the "why" is not as important as the fact that we are where we are now, and we need to do what we have to do right now. Allie is right, and her matter-of-fact pragmatism and gallows humor in the face of her horrifying situation is refreshing. I think as the story proceeds, her girlish voice becomes less and less convincing. Having raised daughters and been around teenage women for many years, I can assure you that their personal recording of things would betray much more turbulence and moodiness and extremes than Allie seems to reveal. Still, despite all that, as the beginnings of an attractive, strong, female character, I found Allie to be a fine creation who deserved a wider scope.
Where the story fails, it seems to me, is in its design. Mr. Powell decided from the outset to limit the reader to the “found blog entries” of Allie Keanes. Okay, that story device is his choice, but it comes with certain restrictions, and these are what cripple the work. Among other things, this limitation makes his job at fleshing out a full novel difficult – he can’t, for example, give the blighted humans a first person voice, and they sorely need one. In addition, story telling after the fact drains tension from the narrative by removing the immediacy. Perhaps a better choice would have been some combination of blog entry chapters interspersed with first-person narrative chapters. I don't know. As it is, the novella format is just too brief to adequately resolve the dilemma presented here, and the author's design limitations can’t sustain a longer work.
As I got into the story, I think what I hoped for was an exploration into the suffering of the blighted and perhaps an insight into their change of values. I wanted to understand Allie’s mother – the old Mom, the current one and, ultimately, the renewed one. I also thought that Allie’s blog entries would give the narrative the opportunity to raise responses from both blighted humans and, perhaps, a young person among the safe colonies to the south. Wouldn’t that have opened the doors of the novel? It might have even presented a way to pair up first-person narratives with blogged entries. I can imagine the author could even have still preserved his “shocking ending,” if he still wanted to keep it, and yet carried on the story to a different conclusion.
I don’t mean to do an author’s work here, obviously he’s the one that gets to choose where things go. It’s just that I liked the character of Allie, I was intrigued by the dystopian world she was caught in, and I wanted a better book to let her live within.
Allie, her brother, Billy, and her Dad fled to a cabin in the mountains above Portland. Her mom, fearing she was getting the blight, tearfully left them.
Dad's theory is that 50% get the blight and the other half become the food! WOW!
Electricity is spotty, to say the least. It may come on for a couple of days and then again it may not.
The three members of the family decide to go to a place for a cure they hear about on their radio. Of course, they are hopeful they will be able to reconnect with their missing parent/spouse.
This is when the story becomes very, very interesting. Supposedly, there is a cure for the blighted involving blood therapy.
Would you leave the relative safety of a cabin and head into an unknown world for an opportunity to reunite?
The ending of this one is superlative! Hang onto your seat