THE REMAINING: REFUGEES by D. J. Molles (2012, Amazon Digital Services)
The struggle of Capt. Lee Harden to save civilization (As We Know It) continues in the third book in this series, The Remaining: Refugees.
A few months after the events described in the previous novel, The Remaining: Aftermath, Capt. Harden is supervising the refugee compound known as Camp Ryder. More people have joined the encampment, creating a small culture of its own. Satellite colonies have been sent out to beyond the protecting barricade. The novel begins with a gruesome method used to clear a potential forward operating base of infected.
But Capt. Harden still has his enemies in the camp. “Jerry”, the glad-handling politician/ corporate buttkiss is still trying to build a base of support among the survivors. Professor White, from the remnants of a local college, has followers among his former students. None of whom care for Harden’s “Mission”. Some people want to view the infected, no matter how dangerous they are, as plague victims.
With “Jerry”, Molles’ shows his disgust with the present. Jerry is a craven individual who fled his own burning house, abandoning loved ones to raiders. He’s found a way to justify his actions by focusing on the present. I suspect the author knew too many people like him. God knows I have. The sort of grinning lap dog who can always rise to the top when decent people are being “right-sized” all over the place.
A few chapters into the novel, a new twist is thrown at the refugees. A microbiologist named Jacob has made his way south at the command of one of the last NE coordinators. He has important news for Capt. Harden: the infected are devouring everything they can in the northern states. Like a plague of locusts, they are moving south in search of anything edible. Unlike the zombies of the 28 Days movie and sequel, these infected won’t be satisfied to starve to death. The FURY bacterium is also mutating, creating a new kind of victim with little intelligence, but an over-powering will to survive.
And there is are several sniper attempts to kill Capt. Harden by persons outside the camp. The reader also learns of a mob of religious fanatics known as “The Followers” who forcibly draft any uninfected human into their army or crucify them. Dismissed as idle talk at the beginning of The Remaining: Refugees, the truth of the rumor builds toward the book’s end.
Harden makes a fateful decision blow the bridge crossings across the Roanoke River and stop the invasion. The infected won’t sweep into the mountains or the sea and the river will create a natural barrier. But his plan sets off a tidal wave of repercussions which leave The Remaining: Refugees unresolved at the end. D.J. Molles’ fans await the fourth book in the series to see how it all turns out.
The previous Remaining books were plot driven. So is The Remaing: Refugees, but the individual characters are starting to have a life of their own. Even Capt. Harden’s enemies in the encampment have motives which make perfectly good sense to them. Once you learn their back story, they become understandable, even if their reasons are reprehensible.
The novel still pays close attention to the technical aspects of warfighting and guns. There’s a discussion of the right caliber of ammo needed for the camp. Also the proper way to prepare yourself for a grenade blast. And the devastating effects of a 50 caliber machine gun. Finally, the field care and extraction of a bullet hit victim is drawn in a very detailed account. It’s amazing how much a person can bleed and still survive but you won’t see it on an episode of MASH.
As ever, the author finds a time to reflect:
Scavenging from these houses, Lee felt like an archaeologist, staring in wonder at the things humanity had once held dear to them. Ornate clocks and sets of fine china. Placards and degrees and trophies. The things people were most proud of, the things displayed on mantle’s and walls, were now the things that were the first to be left behind
All the disparate elements of the novel collide in the last few chapters. I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth installment.
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