PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount

Tastes appear to be changing in the volatile world of ‘young adult’ publishing. Futuristic dystopian adventures such as the Hunger Games and Divergent series seem to have run their course, replaced by tougher, more contemporary tales of human survival in the face of overwhelming catastrophe. Stand-out titles which have already found favour include Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, Darren Shan’s Zomb-B books and Tim Lebbon’s tremendous The Silence, books which depict the collapse of Mankind seen through the wide eyes of a teenage protagonist, in a much more readily-recognisable real world setting. Now along comes ReMade by Alex Scarrow, previously best-known for his popular TimeRiders sequence (although he has already dabbled with the apocalypse in gritty titles like Last Light and After Light). Remade is, however, a more gruesome and occasionally disturbing affair altogether... and it’s apparently intended for kids.

Sixteen-year-old Leon is struggling to adapt to a new life back in London with his sister Grace and their mother who has split acrimoniously from their father back in New Jersey. Worrying reports of a fatal new virus in Africa – quickly dismissed as neither Ebola or Marburg or any of the usual exotic suspects – quickly escalate and it becomes clear that something is very seriously amiss. The virus rapidly spreads across Europe and society begins to collapse in on itself with a terrifying speed. But this is no typical plague-like virus; this new infection is sentient. It attacks its victims and breaks them down into their constituent elements - they literally dissolve into jelly and gloop – and then starts to recreate a new form of life from the genomes and DNA and assorted sciencey bits it has absorbed. Leon and his family decide to flee London as quickly as possible. But inevitably they’re not quite quick enough...

Remade is a tough and often stomach-troublingly graphic read. This is apocalyptic fiction resolutely not dumbed-down for its target audience; with its vivid and numerous descriptions of the agonies of the effects of the virus and the hideous liquefication of its victims this is not one for youngsters of a nervous disposition. It’s hard, uncompromising and it takes no prisoners in its descriptions of the world coming to an end in a very unpleasant manner. Leon and his family eventually find solace with another survivor in a nuclear bunker but it’s a short-lived respite and before long Leon and Grace fetch up at an occupied leisure park complex which initially seems to provide the sanctuary they’ve been seeking. But, as ever in these society-collapsing situations, sometimes sanctuary becomes a frying pan/fire situation...

Remade ends the world quietly – literally with a whimper – and the emphasis is on character over spectacle; there are no real large scale cinematic set pieces here, just frightened people left alive in a frightening world. The ending is genuinely shocking – some might suggest it goes a bit too far for a kid’s book – and the way is paved for the upcoming sequel which we await with some anticipation. Crisply and confidently written and never less than compelling even in its ickier sequences, Remade is unreservedly recommended – but for youngsters and adults with strong stomachs and sturdy constitutions only.


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