Remnant

1 star1 star1 star1 star0.25 star Adult
Cass wakes one morning to find everyone gone. Vanished into thin air. There are only birds left, and strangely, one horse. As Cass struggles to find other survivors in this new world where nature is taking back the land, she discovers that being alone might not be the worst thing. It depends on who or what else is out there... More

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Reviews

Review by: wspice4815 on Dec. 23, 2013 : (no rating)
Having read all four books in Kate Genet’s Michaela & Trisha series, and loved them, because of the great characters and intriguing plots, I figured it was time to dip into the well of that author’s offerings again. If nothing else, it would be a nice change of pace from the rather gritty murder mysteries and urban fantasy I usually read. So, having just finished Randye Lordon’s Say Uncle and Seanan McGuire’s Late Eclipses, it seemed the perfect time to open Genet’s Remnant, and I’m quite glad I made that choice.

Did I like Remnant as well as the Michaela & Trisha novels? Well, that’s kind of an apples and oranges comparison, and not a very fruitful one (pun intended), either. Let’s just say I liked it a lot, and I think it would appeal to readers with a range of literary tastes, which is one of the hallmarks of good writing.

I started reading science-fiction at around 14 years, 10 or 11 if Tom Swift, Jr. counts, and, I became a confirmed feminist after reading Joanna Russ’s story, “When It Changed” in the early seventies. I love stories that combine the two elements. While Remnant isn’t science-fiction, per se — it involves more the supernatural — it does share certain elements with the apocalyptic part of that genre. Nor does Remnant wear its feminism on its sleeve, so to speak, but its feminist stance seems pervasive though never mentioned overtly. (Yeah, I am a feminist, but I hate the shrill, preachy variety of that particular “-ism.”)

The premise of Remnant is an interesting one: What if you woke up and everyone had disappeared, machines no longer worked, and wild plant and tree growth threatened to overtake everydamnthing? Well, easy answer: You freak the fuck out. Still, freaking out over with, you try to cope. You don’t really have a choice. You figure out how to get food, medicine, shelter, clothing. Eventually, though, you realize you need one thing more: other people, or even just one other person. That’s the situation that Cass, the protagonist of Remnant, is faced with. (Yeah, folks, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Deal.)

And, even with all that, the ante is upped again by an ancient overwhelming “Other,” a presence which Cass feels is stalking her. And, guess what, no matter how much you’ve got it together, how much you’ve begun to create some semblance of a new life, you freak out again, and you realize maybe the freaking out really isn’t over even then. And, guess what, (again) that's okay.

One of the things I like most about Cass is that she does freak out; she even contemplates shuffling off this mortal coil, aided by spoils from the local pharmacy. But, then, freak-out done, at least for the moment, she gets on with doing what needs doing. The freaking-out makes her more human — I mean, who wouldn’t? — and the squaring of shoulders and turning to the tasks at hand makes her admirable; both qualities combine to help us relate to her and to root her on.

I also like her attitude vis-à-vis the animal kingdom. Despite all the issues she faces, like, ya know, staying alive, she goes to the local zoo to free any trapped animals, releasing tuataras in a nearby park and taking starving kiwis home to nurse. I can’t imagine myself even thinking of doing that in a similar situation, and it really cements in my mind the sort of person Cass is. In fact, accepting the premise of old gods cleansing the earth and saving only a few in a new Eden, her concern for other creatures may be why she was one of the ones selected to remain when the others vanished. It’s a nice subtle message.

Even more interesting is Cass’s relationship with Ezzy, a horse who is, for a long time, the only other living creature around save for a plenitude of birds. Cass treats Ezzy very much as an equal rather than a beast of burden. She recognizes that they need each other if they’re to survive. In a sense, Ezzy seems to realize this, too. When Cass talks to Ezzy as if the horse were a person, it’s not the signs of someone losing her grip on reality, but more an understanding, and an acceptance of her/their situation. It’s one of the story’s many highlights.

***SPOILER ALERT*** Yes, Cass does finally find another human. The relationship between her and Pania seems a little rushed, but not so much to distract from the enjoyment of the story. Still, I wish we’d seen more of them together before the fast-forward to the conclusion. Their life together is just beginning, after all, and, having my interest in the relationship already piqued, I wanted more.

The writing here is, perhaps, not quite as crisp as in the Michaela & Trisha mysteries, but this is an earlier work. Not that the writing is bad, by any stretch of the imagination, Genet’s voice just seems more assured in the other books I’ve read. A reviewer on another forum wrote “each and every word is essential to progressing the story.” I couldn’t agree more. In a review of another of Genet’s novels, I wrote, “Personally, I’d call her style spare, with not one single word ever getting in the way of the important thing: the story.” Genet’s narrative style is perfectly suited to her stories, and that’s not always an easy trait to find, or to produce.

Another quality I’ve always found with Genet is believability, no matter how removed from the mundane the plot may be. In Remnant, she does a terrific job making us actually feel what Cass is experiencing, her fears, her uncertainties, her triumphs and her joys. She (Genet) also skillfully creates a mood of fear and dread, but also one of determination, and, at times, even wonder. Descriptive passages, such of those of the burgeoning new plant life, add to the sense of believability. In a book where so many things have become majorly FUBAR-ed, Genet still shows us the beauty, and her ability to build suspense is every bit as good as in the later works.

One tiny complaint: Horses’ tack includes “reins” not “reigns.” Just sayin’ okay?

So, I enjoyed Remnant a lot. Updating reading progress on Goodreads, at the 25% point, I said “Gripping” and later, “Compelling.” Nothing happened in the remainder of the book to change either of those opinions. In short, it’s a damned good read, and it’s a shame (and a surprise) that Genet hasn’t been snatched up by a major publisher.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: your bookgeek on May 20, 2012 : star star star star
This was a most unusual book and very enjoyable book. Nearly two/thirds focus on Cass who we come to believe is the last human left on earth. Her confusion, coping, struggling are very real and told in a very fluent, eloquent style of writing. Until the end the book stays in the horizon of the main characters (a horse included) so readers are left guessing what happened ... and it adds even more layers to the story. Good read ... the epilogue though comes a bit abrupt or one might think about a sequel.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Kelli Jae Baeli on March 16, 2012 : star star star star star
Rich in eloquence, authenticity, and sweeping tragic beauty

I choose my books wisely, as I don't have near enough time to read all the books I'd like to, so I will not even waste my time with one that doesn't immediately engage my senses, my interest, my fascination. Remnant was one of those books that did all of that and more. New Zealand author, Kate Genet is one of those writers who deserves a major publishing contract, along with an insanely generous advance and a multi-book deal. Her book, Remnant is just a masterful piece of work. It isn't easy to handle basically one character for most of a book, but she pulled it off beautifully. Not once, did I lose interest in Cass and her plight. One reason for her mastery, is that she did not create a hero, so much as an average woman in beyond-average situation This book has a great deal of exposition, but necessarily so, considering the plot. It takes a lot to keep me from skipping forward on long narrative passages, merely because many writers aren't very good at handling them, but Genet has a firm grip on moving a story along and making it engaging and compelling. There's a lot to be said for the economy of words, (notwithstanding this review) and often other authors will fall into purple prose--as if to say "look at me I'm in love with my words." Genet, however, is in love with her craft. She doesn't slip into verbosity, yet never skimps on eloquent and succinct prose to illuminate character, move plot, and engender emotions in the reader, often primal emotions, at that. The horse, Ezzy, she befriends--or who befriends her-- is as much a main character as Cass, and just as easily engaging. Along with her eloquence and ability to create such tension, her plot is not at all predictable; it's clever, with a few twists that are quite satisfying and clever. She stays true to her characters, her concept, and her plot, the whole way through. We are taken on a journey along with the characters, so that it does feel visceral and authentic. One thing Kate Genet does not do is cop out on her stories. Nor does she spoon-feed or take the easy way out. Remnant is rich in eloquence, authenticity, and sweeping tragic beauty. To qualify this is a book as "going back to nature" would be understatement, because we do realize in the poignant exposition, how powerful nature can be, and how insignificant we ultimately are as a species, against such a formidable force. It's challenging enough, in today's luxury-oriented society, to lose all those conveniences--but another thing entirely to be thrust into a world where even the basic necessities like water, food, shelter, and safety are a constant question, a continual struggle. Many, if not most people who might found themselves in such an apocalyptic situation, would simply break out the razor blades and send themselves to oblivion. But here, we find a character who has a well of inner strength, a fortitude that allows her to keep going, keep hoping, keep searching for those two elements crucial to the health and well-being of the human species: hope and love. Without these two, as Genet illustrates in Remnant, there is little cause to survive. Remnant is a beautiful, epic tale of one woman's courage and strength, amid the most oppressive and hopeless of circumstances. Truly an examination and exaltation of the human spirit, and a reminder that our lives are only as satisfying as we decide to make them.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Baxter Clare Trautman on Nov. 26, 2011 : star star star star
I once dubbed Kate Genet ‘the lesbian Stephen King’ then recanted the statement in favor of calling her ‘the lesbian Nancy Drew’. After reading Remnant I realize my first proclamation was premature but nonetheless accurate.

Remnant has all the elements of a good, old-fashioned horror story: the tingly ‘Oh !@#$ what’s going on’ feeling; the sickening drop when you realize what’s going on, then the subsequent wavering between hope and despair of surviving this very bad thing.

In Remnant, the very bad thing is that one morning Cass wakes up and her boyfriend’s gone. (I just heard a collective groan from half the lesbians reading this. Hold on. Stick with me. I had to trust Ms. Genet and so will you. I promise it will be worth it). So the boyfriend is gone, all his family, and the chickens too. Other than the native birds singing merrily in the bush, there doesn’t appear to be another living creature around but for a darling horse named Esmerelda. As she searches vainly for other humans, Cass gradually realizes that not only is everyone vanished but the land seems to be quickly reclaiming the evidence of human existence. Cities disappear in volcanic upheavals. Homes, stores and streets are engulfed by the encroaching vegetation. Cass and Esmerelda appear indeed to be remnants of a suddenly lost civilization. Just as Cass starts – oh, but wait. I can’t say more without giving away the fine suspense of the novel. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out if Cass is the only human left on earth, or at least in New Zealand.

There were enough twists and turns in Remnant to keep me up late two nights in a row. I get up fiendishly early so rarely stay up late with a book but Remnant was just too fun to put down. Reading it felt like being at a slumber party with your best girlfriends, you know, that magic time after you’ve all gone to bed but are too wired to sleep, so you tell ghost stories until someone gets too scared and makes everybody stop. Then you tease that poor girl for being a baby but you’re secretly relieved.

Remnant is only available as an e-book, but Genet is all the incentive you should need to pop seventy-nine bucks for a Kindle. I was lucky enough to discover her on Smashwords when her writing was free but Genet is still a bargain with her works priced at $4.99 or less.

Genet’s brand of horror is not without humor and tenderness, so don’t be put off if you’re not much of a horror fan. And I’m not even sure if horror is the correct genre. Maybe call it futuristic sci-fi and leave it at that? Whatever the genre, Remnant doesn’t disappoint. It’s a quick, fun, spooky read. Enjoy!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Baxter Clare Trautman on Nov. 26, 2011 : star star star star
I once dubbed Kate Genet ‘the lesbian Stephen King’ then recanted the statement in favor of calling her ‘the lesbian Nancy Drew’. After reading Remnant I realize my first proclamation was premature but nonetheless accurate.

Remnant has all the elements of a good, old-fashioned horror story: the tingly ‘Oh !@#$ what’s going on’ feeling; the sickening drop when you realize what’s going on, then the subsequent wavering between hope and despair of surviving this very bad thing.

In Remnant, the very bad thing is that one morning Cass wakes up and her boyfriend’s gone. (I just heard a collective groan from half the lesbians reading this. Hold on. Stick with me. I had to trust Ms. Genet and so will you. I promise it will be worth it). So the boyfriend is gone, all his family, and the chickens too. Other than the native birds singing merrily in the bush, there doesn’t appear to be another living creature around but for a darling horse named Esmerelda. As she searches vainly for other humans, Cass gradually realizes that not only is everyone vanished but the land seems to be quickly reclaiming the evidence of human existence. Cities disappear in volcanic upheavals. Homes, stores and streets are engulfed by the encroaching vegetation. Cass and Esmerelda appear indeed to be remnants of a suddenly lost civilization. Just as Cass starts – oh, but wait. I can’t say more without giving away the fine suspense of the novel. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out if Cass is the only human left on earth, or at least in New Zealand.

There were enough twists and turns in Remnant to keep me up late two nights in a row. I get up fiendishly early so rarely stay up late with a book but Remnant was just too fun to put down. Reading it felt like being at a slumber party with your best girlfriends, you know, that magic time after you’ve all gone to bed but are too wired to sleep, so you tell ghost stories until someone gets too scared and makes everybody stop. Then you tease that poor girl for being a baby but you’re secretly relieved.

Remnant is only available as an e-book, but Genet is all the incentive you should need to pop seventy-nine bucks for a Kindle. I was lucky enough to discover her on Smashwords when her writing was free but Genet is still a bargain with her works priced at $4.99 or less.

Genet’s brand of horror is not without humor and tenderness, so don’t be put off if you’re not much of a horror fan. And I’m not even sure if horror is the correct genre. Maybe call it futuristic sci-fi and leave it at that? Whatever the genre, Remnant doesn’t disappoint. It’s a quick, fun, spooky read. Enjoy!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Gabriella West on Aug. 21, 2011 : star star star star
Remnant is not the type of book I usually read--I'm not much for the paranormal, though I remember reading "The Shining" with rapt attention when I was a kid. Remnant is a powerful novel, though, and Kate Genet is an unusual new talent.

The book starts with Cass, a young New Zealander on summer vacation from university, visiting her Maori boyfriend's family. She has a sensual, warm relationship with her lover--this part of the book is fun to read. Then the mood abruptly shifts and Cass finds herself completely alone one morning as she wakes up from sleeping outside under the stars. She tries to convince herself that her lover's family have had an emergency but soon realizes that no human being is around anywhere. As she says, "I was suddenly convinced I was the only person left in the world."

Cass finds a horse (an engaging presence in the book) and ventures back towards the city. In chapter after chapter, she realizes that the familiar world of civilization around her is disappearing. The early chapters gave me goosebumps, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the exotic New Zealand "bush," although the fear and emotional isolation Cass endures for most of this novel is gruelling and traumatic.

I was never sure what was going to happen next, but when Cass finally meets another person, a young woman, and they then quickly develop a deep friendship and chemistry, Remnant became gripping for me, and I raced through the final chapters. There is one more ordeal that the two women must go through, and although it's built up throughout the book, it is still eerie and unexpected. Despite Remnant's paranormal elements, this is an earthy book, filled with realistic dialogue and believable situations; it doesn't romanticize nature, as the natural world is seen as both beautiful and potentially deadly.

My only quibble is that the chapters where Cass faces adversity alone could have been shortened a bit. But I loved the book, and am very glad I stumbled upon Ms. Genet's work at Smashwords, otherwise I would never have had the chance to read it!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Alex Canton-Dutari on July 30, 2011 : star star star star star
Remnant by Kate Genet
Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari
This fascinating book must be every Earth defender's dream, described in such a way that even humidity changes can be felt through the written words of the author.
I do not know if I would include paranormal as a genre under which the story can also be classified. Perhaps it could be.
At the end I was left asking myself. Would the dynamics that took place between the main female characters follow the same pattern had they been two males?
I am grateful to my Smashwords colleague who recommended this book.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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