I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Remnant. According to the blurb it would obviously be two things: 1) be sci-fi with a mix of dystopia. 2) come from a faith-based background. I’m on board with both of those things (heck, that’s the primary thing I write and one of my top three genres to read). It wasn’t confusing or a let-down when I cracked he cover and saw it was a little different than I expected from the cover. It was a little less sci-fi than I expected from the robo-cop looking cover, but that was me reading too much into the artwork, but the overall book from Dancing Lemur Press was well done (even if I’ve got a natural bias against 6×9 books that aren’t hardcover—but again, that’s my own personal oddity).
Davidson’s writing is good. It could use a little cleanup in some places (many spots I’d highlight, were I the editor, to suggest some tightened action verbs, but it’s neither a glaring problem nor an overly obtuse one—just something I’m picking up on now during an heavy line-editing phase I’ve going on for a few books—the writing is really good, though… the nitpick is the difference between shiny and mirror-finish.)
Plot-wise, there is an Orwellian feel to the world that develops as you follow Colton Pierce—the main character almost seems to work for the Ministry of Love and the book opens on a sort of watered-down Room 101 where Winston Smith surrenders his humanity. Unlike the classic 1984, however, Davidson interlaces familiar imagery and names brands to keep the reader grounded in a not-too unrealistic future dystopia where people drive Mercedes Benzes, Toyotas, and Mustangs. It’s both scarier and more comfortable at the same time. There is something terrifying about a world so relatable and yet so different which Orwell establishes for his readers—but Davidson’s world has that same terror amplified because of the familiarity, though its oddly comfortable at the same time as readers will easily insert themselves into the ebb and flow of the culture and modern writing style (something readers new to Orwell will undoubtedly struggle to do).
Of course, a key difference between The Remnant and the classic 1984 is that Davidson’s work has an undercurrent of hope whereas Orwell’s reeks of warning. Davidson obviously writes something palatable for a larger age spectrum and the book would be appropriate for YA readers. Rather than seeing the world through the eyes of a doomed man awaiting the interrogation of Room 101 Davidson’s Winston Smith and his Julia (Selma, in The Remnant’s case) escape the clutches of the Big Brother, The Spies, and Thinkpol to lead their pursuit on a manhunt where similarities begin to look a bit more like Minority Report in some ways—although The Remnant is a friendlier and more accessible 1984 with a solid faith component and it manages to do that without becoming heavy handed or preachy.
I received a free copy of The Remnant from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.