#RRSciFiMonth YA Weekend: ReMade created by Matthew Cody
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: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Series: Book 1 of ReMade
Publisher: Serial Box (April 25th 2017)
Length: 783 pages
It’s been several months since I last reviewed a Serial Box title, and it appears they’ve been very busy churning out new serials while my attention was elsewhere. Still, I thought I’d been doing a pretty good job keeping informed of their releases, which was why I was so surprised on my latest venture to the SB website to come across ReMade, a series I hadn’t heard of before. Not only that, I saw that Season Two had just kicked off, which meant somehow a whole season had passed me by.
Curiosity piqued, I ended up accepting an offer of the entire 15-episode first season for review. The premise sounded interesting, and this being Serial Box’s first foray into the Young Adult genre, they probably wanted to get some of big names behind the project because I also recognized several of them on the author list which includes Matthew Cody, Andrea Phillips, Kiersten White, Gwenda Bond, Carrie Harris, and E.C. Myers. The story was pitched to me as Lost meets The Maze Runner (which I actually found to be quite accurate), following a group of twenty-three teenagers and young adults who wake up one day on a strange jungle world full of unidentifiable creatures and killer robots. Nearby, a towering space elevator looms. Are they in the future? Or have they been abducted and transported to an alien planet? No one knows for sure what’s going on, but gradually they discover a common factor among themselves—every single one of them has final memories of dying before they woke up here.
First, there’s Holden and Seyah, who were together in the same car that collided with an oncoming truck in the opposite lane. Then there’s May, whose paranoia over her severe allergies prevents her from eating anything in this strange new place, even as her body hungers for food. Next is Nevaeh, who remembers drawing her last breath in a hospital bed before finally succumbing to a long battle with cancer. The boy known as Loki. Teen idol and reality TV star Teddy Young. Inez, whose last memories of a fun day at the beach with her family ended in tragedy. Umta, who is not quite human. Hardworking Cole, who is haunted by memories of his sweetheart and infant son. Nearly two dozen characters from different backgrounds with different stories to tell, but all their lives seemed to have ended around the same time, with death occurring between 9:31 and 9:32pm Eastern Time on October 14th, 2016.
When reading serialized fiction, I generally prefer waiting for the full novel or season to be completed before tackling all the installments in one go, as opposed to following them piecemeal by the week. Serials like ReMade are a pretty good example of why I do this, given its rather unusual structure. While it features a present storyline set on the mysterious jungle world, each episode also focuses mainly on one character and tells their backstory through a long sequence of flashbacks. More than anything else, it was this aspect of the series that reminded me most of Lost, with its use of a nonlinear narrative to tell a character-driven mystery.
Admittedly, this is a format that probably works best if you can finish one episode and jump into the next one right away. Personally, I doubt my interest would have held and I probably wouldn’t have continued reading if I’d had to wait a week between each one. For example, the first episode “Shadow and Dreams” featuring Holden simply drops readers into this bizarre new world with little to no context, and because his flashbacks also took up so much of the narrative, we were also left with no real answers by the time it ended. It was a pretty unsatisfying intro to say the least, but the advantage of having the full season on hand meant I was able to binge read the next few episodes, which I believe made all the difference. As I kept reading, a pattern began to take shape, along with a clear direction. As a result, somewhere between Episode 3 “Home, Perilous Home” (Nevaeh’s story) and Episode 4 “The Most Dangerous Game” (Loki’s story), I found myself completely hooked.
Still, for me I think it was Episode 6 “Reality No-Show” featuring Teddy and Inez that finally sealed the deal. Aside from being my favorite, this episode also signaled a turning point in the series, first because it began apart from the others, and second because it kicked off a new arc for the main storyline which is still advancing at a brisk pace despite all the flashbacks. Like a TV series, ReMade seems to move in stages, and every few episodes there will be a climactic event that will challenge the characters and shake up the status quo. While there were still plenty of questions at this point, I was already so invested in the mystery that I didn’t mind waiting a little longer for the answers.
Considering the format, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the characters were also a huge motivation for me to continue. Although the premise states we start off with twenty-three people, eventually only a handful rise to prominence as “main” characters. However, this is still enough for a very diverse cast, resulting in a lot of interesting backstories and interactions between different characters. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, with some emerging as natural leaders while others take on a more supportive—but no less important—role in helping each other survive throughout the series. Even though a couple characters manage to achieve great feats, the story still gives you the sense that everyone’s skills and talents are required to succeed. There was no one character I preferred more than any other, in that I was able to relate to each in a different way. They are all flawed, with their individual experiences shaping much of their personalities and motivations, and the flashbacks go a long way in showing us how and why.
All told, ReMade now ranks among my favorite series from Serial Box. If you’re familiar with the TV show Lost and the way it featured a primary storyline supplemented by flashbacks to expand character backstories, then you’ll probably recognize a similar format here, used by the authors to develope a fascinating dystopian mystery. Now that all 15 episodes of the first season are released, you can pick up ReMade in its entirety, which in my opinion is the best way to enjoy the series anyway, and hence why I am looking forward to when the currently running second season is complete. I’m very curious to find out what happens, and will be excited to continue reading.