Wouldn’t you know it, it’s time to end the world all over again. Surely having nothing to do with real world concerns and the general moronic behavior in our leaders, the concept (and possibility) of a dystopian and post-apocalypse future is growing still more popular by the day. Even without the social commentary, the end of the world could come in a million different ways. While we wait for the inevitable, there’s always room at the table for a good depressing concept to describe our imminent demise. The concept submitted for your consideration today takes a little extra care to look back, to see how the crumbling remains of what we’ve built up to 2019 could influence society once the proverbial shit has hit the proverbial fan. I’ve always thought about what the post nuclear version of American Pickers would look like, while going through my possessions as they appraise my unmentionables with post-society buzzwords. But while we’re still around, let’s explore an all new interpretation of our societal expiration with a detailed and altogether crazy examination. It’s the TehBen Book Club y’all!
The Remnants by Robert J. Peterson is a new way to look at the end of the world. Let’s take it from the top: Deadblast, the unique name for the end-of-the-world notion in this universe took place an indeterminable number of years ago, spreading global destruction and a virtual reset to life on our planet. What’s most fascinating is how we don’t really know what happened. Most post-world universes seem to know EXACTLY what happened (the bomb, the disease, the storm etc) but here, we’re kept somewhat in the dark, yielding a good amount of immersion from the start. Cobbled together in the ramshackle way we’re likely to expect, The Remnants represent the closest things to communities, each ruled by “Odds” that give individual Remnants their own unique flavor to this interesting hellscape. For our story, however, we are first introduced to Boris Hagan, providing his last will and testament into a device called a Dictatryst. Through Hagan’s introduction we are slowly led into the world and some of the characters that we’ll be following for the next several hundred pages. I’ll try to keep it brief: Eldridge, known for his shock of red hair and battle tested disposition, is in debt and in trouble with seemingly everyone with any authority. Discipline is evoked, and the redhead is sent to the thousand mile gang line of punishment known as the “Chain.” The aforementioned Hagan is Eldridge’s best friend and Chain-mate, each with their own trouble to different Odds around this ever depressing dystopian setting. After a harrowing escape from the Chain, the world seems to be in jeopardy all over again with inter-remnant conflict, ruthless bounty hunters, and countless moving pieces across what’s left of the world we once called home. Sheesh, after all this I’m hoping the real apocalypse takes me quickly, because this seems like too much work!
If the plot sounds complex, that’s because it is. One thing I don’t want to lose in the shuffle is the use of the Dictatryst mentioned earlier. What could be just as useful as a video game mechanic, the machine is some sort of recording device that allows Boris to break down the fourth wall and communicate with the reader directly. Certain plot points are explained with this device, and it was genuinely helpful as I tried to consume and understand what was going on. It’s unfortunate that this idea was used less and less as the story went on however, as there was much more about this world that could have used explanation. While the notion of the “end of the world” is easy grasp, the sheer bounty of detail offered by the author is staggering, and at times difficult to keep up with. What begins as two characters morphs into what feels like dozens, without much indication of whom we should be paying closer attention to as the events unfold. Seemingly important characters are snuffed out in the blink of an eye (violently), and characters I incorrectly assessed as bit players were important all the way to the end. Perhaps this was done on purpose to aid the shared feeling of calamity that this whole experience is for the characters, but it will come at a cost of comprehension if you’re not careful. If that doesn’t work for you, the dialogue alone is worth the price of admission.
Verdict: The Remnants by Robert J. Peterson is a detailed expression of a post apocalyptic universe that feels right to fans of any genre of media that could address this subject. Interesting characters desperately attempting to make sense of the insane proceedings will be able to share this experience with the reader throughout the extensive journey of this novel. With more lore and content than you could possibly catalogue in one reading, and dialogue that will produce genuine out-loud laughter, there’s more than enough sitting here to warrant consideration. So long as you’re not afraid of a long journey with a potential need to use the search feature on your e-reader, dig in and begin the adventure. It’s the end of the world as we know it…and to be honest, I feel fine.
Special thanks to Meg Eden and California Coldblood for providing an advance copy of The Remnants to TehBen.com for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author’s Twitter: @robertjpeterson
Purchase Link: Amazon