Lee has his mission to restore society and civilisation to the ruined US, destroyed by the RAGE plague turning people into ferocious, violent zombie-like beings. He’s made it to Camp Ryder but the survivors are wary. They’re surrounded by a rampaging gang that’s more than happy to destroy them and they don’t trust or have the supplies for outsiders
Lee has to prove his worth, prove his loyalty and show the camp he can help – but delivering the supplies that were stashed before society collapsed. At the same time, his mission continues – he’s not there for one group of survivors, but to try and re-establish civilisation itself. Unlike Camp Ryder, he can’t ignore other groups needing help.
This book is, in many ways, an action film in book form. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I have to say at times I do like to turn off some of the higher thinking and watch things go boom. It can be fun, it can be a good way to relax. It is what it is, and if you like guns and bullets and action and well written, pretty exciting fight scenes with a Big Damn Hero protagonist, then this will work for you. If not? Not.
Personally, I’m kind of caught in the middle. Because I can appreciate a good action book, but this book is pretty simple and devoid of any real nuance. The bad guys? Are bad. Very bad. I don’t just mean Milo’s band of evil killers (who are just that, evil killers, rapists, sadistic torturers, psychopaths), but even people who oppose Lee in the camp as well. There’s a man who speaks against him early on and he’s seen as conniving, weak, lazy and generally unpleasant even by most of the people who we meet in the camp (unlike his mute and nameless supporters) and he doesn’t just question Lee but by the end of the book he’s almost comically unreasonable. There’s no chance of us seeing this guy as having a point or even understanding why he would be doing or saying what he did even if we disagree with him – he’s just wrong.
There’s a guy put into a terrible position and forced to do something awful in the vain hope of saving a loved one. Ah, nuance and understanding? Aw hell no, that man is weak and pathetic and needs chewing out pronto before redempdeath.
And the main character, Lee? Well, in the first book he was a soldier and special forces so we always expected him to be competent and capable. But we’ve gone beyond that – he’s a Hero. He’s tough and his strong and he’s awesome. It doesn’t matter how hurt he is, he will keep on fighting. It doesn’t matter how hungry, he will skip the meal because he’s just that tough. He will back people down with the power of his steely gaze, he will fight on with broken bones and torn ligaments, he will make plans based on him tearing up several of the enemy, because he’s just that awesome. And he’s good and kind when called for, and ruthless and brutal when it’s necessary because he’s a badass with a heart of gold. People who criticise him are wrong and mean or, at very least, misguided. He’s a leader and he doesn’t so much work as a team as order around minions who recognise his awesomeness (and are fairly irrelevant anyway because he’s so awesome. Their main role is to die around him so he can then be noble and sad and have the Guilts because he didn’t save them).