Audiobook Review: Raid by K.S. Merbeth
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Hachette Audio (July 25, 2017)
Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
Narrator: Rachel Frawley
If you took a buddy movie and combined it with the desolation of the Fallout series and the rip-roaring explosive action of Mad Max, then you just might end up with something that looks a lot like Raid. Set in the same world as the author’s debut novel Bite, this was another entertaining romp through a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with raiders and cannibals.
Told through the eyes of a scarred and vengeful bounty hunter named Clementine, the story begins with our protagonist cashing in on her latest kill at one of the many towns struggling under the control of a merciless dictator named Jedediah Johnson. Of course, for Clementine the greatest prize would be Jedediah himself, the man who is responsible for killing her family, but everyone knows that the raider leader would be too well-protected, surrounded by his many guards inside his impenetrable mansion. So when an informant tells her about a secret passageway that would lead her straight to the heart of his stronghold, Clementine immediately dismisses it as a trick. But to her surprise, the tip turned out to be good, and very soon she has her quarry tied up and gagged in the passenger seat of her getaway car.
The only problem? Clementine had not anticipated that no one would actually want to pay out for Jedediah. Captured he may be, but there are still many of his followers roving around the territory, and few are willing risk the wrath of an angry horde for when they inevitably come looking for their missing boss. Left with no other options in the east, Clementine is forced to take Jedediah across the wastes to hopefully find someone else willing to shell out for his bounty. After all, it would be a shame to kill him and have the biggest catch of her life turn out to be a total bust. Still, Clementine soon finds herself regretting that decision as the two of them are immediately beset upon by obstacles like low supplies, bloodthirsty raiders, and other bounty hunters trying to poach her prisoner.
Raid can be enjoyed without any prerequisites, though if you have read Bite you might be delighted to find that a few familiar faces will show up for a bit of the action. There are also some ties to the first book and other Easter eggs that will be fun to spot, giving something extra to the experience, though overall I would not discourage anyone from starting their wasteland journey with this one if they wish. To be honest, I might actually prefer Raid slightly over Bite because of Clementine, whom I found to be a fascinating protagonist and somewhat more compelling to read about than Kid. As a rough, tough bounty hunter, Clementine is a woman who makes her own way and refuses to let anyone dictate her life. Though she is brutal, she is also not heartless; the problem is that most people in this world are intimidated by her imposing presence, but Clementine has all but given up on being the first one to reach out, convinced that she’ll get nothing but fear and scorn in return.
Thus our protagonist lives a lonely existence, accepting it as the price for her independence. Not surprisingly, what makes Raid such a good book is the way the story transforms Clementine’s way of thinking. While for the most part I would still categorize this novel as a light, popcorny thrill ride, there are nonetheless some deeper themes to uncover if one cares to look for them. Much like it was in Bite, character development was top-notch, with the well-crafted relationships taking center stage. Merbeth’s writing is becoming increasingly polished and she really has a gift for building a believable post-apocalyptic world and making the people who live in it come to life.
My only complaint? The ending. Hate is a strong word so I won’t use it, but the way this story wrapped up left a really bad taste in my mouth. Plus, the author still seems to struggle with pacing issues when it comes to writing denouements, rushing through the final explanations and resolving matters too casually. It’s a shame since the book was well on its way to getting a 4.5 stars or more, but I just had to dock some points for the way the conclusion was handled.
Still, considering how amazing the rest of the book was, I wouldn’t say any of my criticisms are a deal breaker. Certainly I would not hesitate for a second to recommend this novel and the author, and I highly encourage you to pick up Raid if the story or the setting piques your interest. Better yet, pick up Bite too for the full experience! I can’t wait to see what K.S. Merbeth has in store for her fans next!
Audiobook Comments: Having really enjoyed Stephanie Willis’ narration in the audiobook for Bite, I was initially a bit disappointed to see that she was not returning for Raid even though the decision to go with someone else makes total sense since this book stars a different protagonist. And I have to say, getting Rachel Frawley to take on the role of Clementine was a pretty damn good choice. Her voice has a commanding presence which makes it a perfect fit for our rugged bounty hunter protagonist, and while I found her performance to be somewhat wooden in the beginning, she eventually finds a good rhythm. Like Bite, this one was another awesome listen.