What Remains (Dead World #1)

What Remains (Dead World) - Kay Holland

[I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. The book already been published when I requested it, I don't think it was an ARC.]

From the blurb, as well as from the first two chapters, this novel had an interesting premise, and looked like a short, nice read; alas, I didn't enjoy it.

First problem: too many spelling mistakes and misused words. I know a lot of books out there contain the odd typo, and I wouldn't nitpick about one, but too many will just throw me out of the story, and this is exactly what happened. A few examples:

"Something still stirred in her bowls after all of this time"
"their since of security"
"the extent of differentially"
"A few interns had committed suicide due to depression and fear" (I think the right word was "inmates"?)
"psychical" in place of "physical"


Also weird sentence structures:

"made helped him to decide"
"Just behind him whom Max thought to be his father was standing at the makeshift hole/window watching the kid and wearing a blank face."


After a while, it really gets hard to ignore those. (There are also a couple of weird tense shifts, as well as point of view changes that sometimes made it confusing when it comes to know who's thinking/doing what.)

Another problem: the dichotomy between blurb and book. We readers immediately know what caused the epidemics, but the characters learn about it some 69% in, and in a kind of passing way, as if so many people already knew, except for them. I wouldn't have minded the late reveal, if the blurb hadn't given it away from the beginning. So basically the whole mystery about the "virus" petered out quickly, and I wondered what was the point.

The story also runs into several plot holes. The well-locked store where they find shelter, for instance: no infected has been able to enter it in months, yet the characters just waltz in? Or a character whos named before he was formally introduced (probably a typo more than a plot hole... but still annoying). Or the

crazy camp captain who threatens to throw them out without their weapons if they don't do his bidding, yet never takes their guns to better keep them under his thumb.

(show spoiler)


I couldn't like nor connect with the characters either. Too much telling about their feelings, for starters; as a result, they came off as bland and more like generic zombie-novel-archetypes rather than real people (and Peter being so ready for a zombie apocalypse, just like that? Hmmm...). They also displayed contradictory reactions (Max knows Paul was only a pre-med student, yet blames him for not being a "real doctor"—he never said he was). Sometimes, those even reached the Too Stupid To Live zone: Paul doesn't do much when it comes to defending himself, and although they know that travelling by car attracts zombies, they still jump in one as soon as they get the opportunity. Guess what happens next?

The novel does contain good ideas that clearly have their place in such a genre: trust issues; fear of losing one's "family" because any such connection can be severed at any moment; difficult decisions to make (abandoning someone who may or may not be infected); people going overboard, their crazy desire for control running amok now that there's no more real society to keep them in check. Unfortunately, those weren't enough to counterbalance the many mistakes and abrupt transitions.