- K.S. Merbeth.
- 384 pages.
- Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic.
- My rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Clementine is a bounty hunter in a world gone mad.
Bound and gagged in her passenger seat is the most revered and reviled raider king in the eastern wastes. She can’t cash him in and she can’t let him go, so together they cross the wasteworld, following a dying road and dodging bloodthirsty raiders who either want to free Jedediah or claim him as their own.
And in a world where lawlessness reigns, a tyrant worse than they could have ever imagined emerges to take the throne.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I think that the blurb does a good job of outlining the principal story being told in Raid. Clementine is a revered bounty hunter in the Eastern wastes, spending her time hunting down raiders and miscreants and she’s damn good at the job. Jedediah Johnson is the dictator in the East. Whereas the Western wastes we frequented in Bite are entirely lawless and anything goes. In the East, Jedediah took control, charging protection from the settlements and towns, running the show, maintaining trade routes and trying to keep a level of humanity. But he’s a tyrant with a name to be feared.
Clementine gets a tip from an informant about an easy way to gain access to Jedediah and claim the bounty on him. After capturing him she soon finds that things are not going to be that simple, no-one will give her the bounty for fear of reprisals and repercussions from Jedediah’s men. Hearing whispers of a broadcast from the Western wastes, of a man who holds trials for raiders. Clementine with Jedediah as her prisoner sets off to find the source of the mysterious broadcast and hopefully claim the bounty on her prisoner.
Suffice to say that this is when things really start going to shit. Jedediah’s men are on their trail and in the West there’s a raider army the size of which has never been seen before running rampant. It really is hell in a handbasket for the pair as Clementine has to figure out what to do with Jedediah while trying to keep them both alive.
The wastelands are home to a variety of smaller and larger towns and communities strewn across them. The towns themselves are inhabited by townies, the more civilised residents of the wastes compared to the other unsavoury denizens and fruit loops including bounty hunters, poachers, raiders and sharks (cannibals) that roam freely around causing a constant threat of danger, mayhem, pillaging and raiding – hence the book’s title, Raid! 🙂
Merbeth brings the wastes to life, they are a barren and desolate landscape with food (unless you’re prepared to chow down on a human) and water in short supply and constant danger from the raiders.
I really like Merbeth’s style of writing, it’s fast-paced and action-packed with the addition of sardonic humour and some emotion also thrown into the mix, making for an exhilarating read.
Raid can easily be read as a standalone, but for those of us who have already read Bite, there are moments that add a little bit extra to the story. When Clementine and Jedediah Johnson mention Saint in the Western Wastes we already know what happened to him. Likewise, with The Queen’s mansion and when Clementine and Jedediah meet up with a ragtag crew of degenerates or as Merbeth calls them, raiders, led by the dreadlocked foul mouth Wolf, the big boy Tank, stoic Dolly and Kid. Kid and the rest of the unruly crew of reprobates are the main characters from Bite and it was a pleasant surprise to see them make an appearance in Raid. I’m fairly sure no-one would ever call Wolf and his rabble pleasant but I think they are a fucking awesome group! The revisits to areas from Bite are nice additions, adding that extra layer to the story for fans of the previous book. And, while it’s only a small glimpse of their crazy antics, if you haven’t met Wolf and Kid before you’re in for a treat.
Clementine is a badass bounty hunter with a penchant for guns. She loves her guns far more than people and she knows how to use them. Not surprising really as in the wastes people will fuck with you, while guns protect and keep you alive. As the main character and alongside Jedediah the focal point of the story in Raid, I found Clementine to be fully rounded and fleshed out with her backstory adding depth to her character. Clem’s companion/prisoner for a large part of the book, Jedediah Johnson is also another quality character. As they travel together, the dynamic and relationship between the two constantly changes throughout the course of their journey as secrets and twists are revealed, giving you a variety of interesting, engaging, awkward and funny moments.
Raid as a book is very much in a similar vein to Bite (that’s no bad thing, Bite is awesome and is in my top ten books of the year list for 2016). I’d say that Merbeth seems more secure and self-assured in her writing, storytelling and characterisation in Raid. She knows her style and it works extremely well for her. Bite was her debut and to me, overall Raid feels like a more accomplished book than its predecessor.
I don’t know what will happen next, will we stay with Clementine? Go back to Wolf, Kid, Tank and Dolly? Or, venture to either the Northern or Southern wastes? Only time and the next book by Merbeth will tell. Rest assured, I’ll happily follow wherever she takes her story and characters, be they old or new as it’s sure to be one wild ride!
Revved up, Raid never takes the foot off the gas, moving forward at full throttle. Incorporating the perfect mix of Fallout, Borderlands, Rage and Mad Max it’s a pedal to the metal mayhem filled frenetic read.
Pre-order Raid (July 25th US & 27th UK).
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: