Even though today’s book is pitched at YA readers, it is not for the faint of heart! Remade by Alex Scarrow is a post-apocalyptic thriller that, suprisingly, given our general aversion to post-apocalyptic fare, we couldn’t devour fast enough. We were lucky enough to receive a copy from PanMacmillan Australia for review and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Leon and his younger sister, Grace, have recently moved to London from New York and are struggling to settle into their new school when rumours of an unidentified virus in Africa begin to fill the news. Within a week the virus hits London. The siblings witness people turning to liquid before their eyes, and they run for their lives. A month after touching Earth’s atmosphere the virus has assimilated the world’s biomass. But the virus isn’t their only enemy, and survival is just the first step . . .
Read it if:
*your response to any kind of catastrophe, from burning the toast to the coming of the end of days, is decidedly British: to have a cup of tea and a good lie down
*when you hear potential bad news reported in the media, your first port-of-call is a web forum for conspiracy theorists to find out what’s REALLY going on
*you don’t care for train travel (or indeed, public transport of any kind) on account of the fact that it provides no escape from the press of unwashed humanity
*you firmly believe that even though the human race has been reduced to a handful of scraggly survivors, that’s no reason to abandon good manners
The suspense in the opening chapters of this book was so craftily built up that it snatched me with its suspenseful claws and had me halfway through the book before I stopped for a break. I knocked the rest over in just a few short sittings and I am pleased to say that this is a quality series opener with a very creepy premise. Essentially, a virus appears in Africa with the unfortunate consequence that those who acquire it become reduced to jelly and then bones within minutes. Worse than that however, is the suggestion that the virus may actually go looking for further quarry once the original host has been devoured.
Once it becomes obvious that the virus isn’t some 48-hour flash in the pan, there is a sense of inevitability exuded in the narration of the story. Leon, Grace and their mother, while attempting to flee the spread of the virus, retain a certain resignation that infection and jellification will feature largely in their individual near-futures. There was something about the inescapable nature of this virus and the extremely short-term goal setting it inspires in the main characters that was reassuring to me and I think allowed me to enjoy this story more than other post-apocalyptic YA novels I’ve read. I didn’t have to worry about the ways in which they might achieve survival months or years down the track because there was a very real chance that they would be nought but a pile of bones within the next few moments.
My favourite part of the novel is an over-riding sense of Britishness that pervades it. I realise that politeness and orderliness are not solely the province of the British, but there was such a feeling of warm familiarity that came over me as I was reading – particularly during the scene on the train – that I allowed myself a little chuckle at the fact that even during the collapse of civilisation, these characters were still prepared to maintain a semblance of decorum, stiff-upper-lippedness and general good manners.
The virus itself is a clever character, if I may use that term, because it is unlike any virus that microbiologists have yet encountered. It seems to evolve in stages, developing different ways of threatening those it didn’t mince first time around, thus providing for new and interesting dangers for our protagonists beyond the immediate run away screaming type response. The ending provides a fantastic cliff-hanger in this regard and I would be interested to see where the story goes next. Having said that, there is enough action and creepiness and character building going on in this novel to ward off feelings of desperation regarding the next stage in the story.
There are a few aspects of the plot that might grate on more seasoned readers of post-apocalyptic tales than I (convenient access to resources required for survival, for instance) and I did have a few questions when the reason behind the protagonists supposed “immunity” was revealed (namely that, based on my casual, and not at all scientific, calculations, I would have expected a much higher rate of survival given the key “immunity” factor). These plot holes didn’t bother me too much though, mainly due to the absorbing action of the story and the excellent pacing.
While I will keep an eye out for the next book, I’m satisfied to wait for a bit and digest (pardon the pun) the relationships and character growth presented in this impressive offering. I’d definitely recommend having a bash at this one if you are looking for a good old-fashioned scare-a-thon with a large helping of hope.
Until next time,