Remnant is the first novel in the Remnant heptalogy, a series centered around an alternate history in which American society has collapsed from a civil war between citizens and the government. It was first self-published by American author Michael Clements on July 16, 2015.
The novel is about Theia and Ethan Krohn, a father and daughter who search for each other in the aftermath of America’s collapse in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. While the novel is about them, the story is told from the perspectives of characters directly involved in Theia and Ethan’s reunion at the end. Ethan is the only main character who does not have his own point-of-view chapters. This was meant to conceal the fact he is the father whom Theia spends the novel searching for.
Eleven-year-old Theia narrowly survives a massacre in the home that she has been held hostage in for some time. She walks through the piles of bodies and escapes outside. She sees that the city, Portland, is desolate from the United States’ second Civil War. Feeling her only hope is to find her father, who is the only one she fully trusts, she heads in the direction of her home on the other side of the city. During her first night alone, she is almost apprehended by a group of men who want to take advantage of her. This experience makes her realize the environment she is in, and she falls into a depression. The next morning, Theia sees a group of boys around her age walking about and joins their ranks. Later, though, the leader of the group attempts to rape Theia, and she narrowly escapes, falling deeper into depression.
To comfort herself, she imagines her father is with her as she hides for the night in an abandoned office space. Knowing her father would tell her to push forward and not give up, Theia decides to do just that, but shortly after leaving the building, she is apprehended by an army of child soldiers. During her first night with the gang’s hostage children who are not yet in the field, she befriends a boy with asthma named Matt. Theia meets the leader of the gang, Marcus Solomon, who asks her to join his ranks since she impressively defended herself against his forces when they apprehended her. Theia refuses, but Marcus manipulates her by saying her friend Matt can only get the help he needs (for his asthma) if she joins him. Reluctantly, Theia agrees.
Thinking she can help out her peers if she attains a little power, Theia goes on a mission with Marcus’ army to earn Marcus’ favor. She is forced to lure a group of US Army soldiers into a vulnerable spot, where Marcus’ forces slaughter them all. From the supplies they gain, Theia is able to provide Matt with an inhaler, but she remains in shock. Later, Theia goes on another mission intended solely to slaughter military troops who occupy Marcus’ territory, but she hides instead, and witnesses the death of another friend. Feeling her spirit is broken, Theia contemplates murdering Marcus.
One night, Theia meets a man named Seth Graves, who she is isn’t aware is acquainted with her father. The two relate to each other about how they feel their circumstances have turned them into horrible people. Later that very night, the military raids Marcus’ base, but Seth pulls her out of the battle before it’s too late. Right after escaping, Seth orders Theia to hide, but she doesn’t know why. What she learns only minutes later is that her father, Ethan Krohn, was running toward them, but Seth, thinking Ethan was a threat, attacked him. Another man aids Seth by shooting Ethan, but when Theia cries for her father, Seth attacks the shooter. Theia hides, so as to not see what happens next. Ultimately, her father is the only survivor the fight, but still remains shot, so she runs outside to get him help.
Later, Theia is temporarily brought to a home for orphans while waiting for her father to be treated. She meets a woman named Mercy, who claims to know her father. Too impatient to wait any longer, Theia runs to the hospital her father is being treated in. When they meet, they embrace, and Ethan, though still in need of rest, carries Theia outside to an empty field. He tells her that her mother is dead, and that it’s his fault she was kidnapped and separated from him in the first place, and for this, he tells her that Mercy will be taking care of her. Before separating again, Ethan promises they will be a family again someday, and Theia says she trusts him.
A mid-twenties woman named Mercedes “Mercy” Espinoza, who has hidden in her family’s basement with her tween niece Haley since the start of the Collapse, is forced to leave once their food supply is depleted. They carefully scour for any traces of food or potential friends, but find nothing. The night following their departure from hiding, they hide in one of countless empty houses, but that home is invaded shortly after by a gang that had seen them enter. Haley steals Mercy’s gun to shoot the man threatening them, and is herself shot. Mercy runs away with an injured Haley, narrowly escaping by stealing a car. Mercy takes Haley to a chapel, where she begs for help, but the church is occupied by members of organized crime, who deem Haley beyond saving and shoot her in the head.
A man named Ethan enters the chapel, and drags Mercy away from Haley’s corpse before the child could be buried. Ethan brings Mercy to the woman who commands these mobsters, though it is hinted that Ethan belongs to a different syndicate. The woman commands Ethan to either persuade Mercy to serve the syndicate or be killed. Mercy reluctantly accepts.
While in forced servitude, Mercy meets a man named Adam, who is also serving against his will, though he was completely loyal to the clan at first. He tells Mercy of how the clan is in the business of selling children. Together, the two conspire to free the current child hostages. Ethan unexpectedly offers to assist their plan. When they enact their plan, it is a success, but Ethan allows Adam to be murdered and the hostage children to be lost in the city without protection, and carries Mercy away.
Ethan tells Mercy she owes him a favor as well. She chooses to go along. She follows Ethan into downtown Portland. Ethan further displays his combat skills and intelligence when they must pass a mob occupying a bridge. Once in downtown, the two are attacked by another clan, this one having been formed after the Collapse, and are brought to the clan’s base, which is a shelter that houses normal people. Isaac, who runs the shelter, allows Ethan and Mercy to live there freely as long as they contribute. That night, however, Ethan disappears, leaving Mercy alone with those people.
Mercy joins a scouting group at night. The group is attacked by a small army that uses child soldiers, and after the battle, she takes one of the injured children back home. The child proves too difficult to control and tries to attack others, until Ethan reappears and physically removes the child from the shelter.
Seth, a man who works under Isaac, is asked by an old man named Glen to search for his daughter who disappeared a long time ago under very suspicious circumstances. When Seth investigates, he finds Glen’s daughter, seeing that she was sold by Isaac to be forced into prostitution. Seth brings Glen’s daughter back to the shelter, and the regular people of the shelter turn against Isaac. In turn, Isaac has his men kill them all. With their weak numbers, Isaac is forced to flee to a new home with his men.
Isaac joins forces with Marcus Solomon, the man who captured Theia. Seth had fled with Mercy and a couple from the shelter. Ethan wants to stay with Mercy, but Seth forces him to leave them, because of his ruthless nature. While in hiding, Seth fails to win Mercy’s affections. Later, they are attacked by men who work for Marcus Solomon. The couple perishes, and Mercy and Seth are brought to Solomon, where Isaac is also. Isaac forgives Seth for his actions under the condition he is loyal henceforth.
Seth visits Mercy, who is now forced to be a prostitute. He tries to take advantage of her in her weak state, but she runs from him. While chasing her, the brothel is attacked by the US military, and Ethan himself is among them, who wounds Seth and takes Mercy to safety.
Ethan takes Mercy to a hospital that is now operated by one of Portland’s larger crime syndicates. There, he talks to its boss, and Mercy eavesdrops on the conversation. From it, Mercy learns that Ethan has been searching for his daughter, Theia, this whole time. Ethan takes Mercy to a militarized zone of Portland, where he and Mercy report what they know of Marcus Solomon. The military colonel informs Ethan they will strike Marcus soon. That night, Ethan and Mercy speak about Theia. Ethan admits he’s brought Mercy along this whole time because he wants her to raise Theia after she’s rescued.
When the military attacks Marcus Solomon at his headquarters, Seth tries to run Theia to safety. Ethan finds them and attacks Seth, who doesn’t know that Ethan is Theia’s father. In the fight, Ethan mortally wounds Seth. But when Ethan tries to take back Theia, Isaac shoots him and Theia screams for her father. Realizing Ethan is her father, Seth chooses to sacrifice himself to save Ethan by attacking Isaac. Before Isaac kills Seth, Ethan shoots him. Before Seth dies from his many wounds, Ethan tells him that Mercy forgives him, and then shoots him in the head.
Theia runs for help to save her father. He is taken to a hospital outside of downtown. Later, Theia is brought to a shelter near that hospital. There, Mercy meets her for the first time, but doesn’t tell her what is about to happen. Theia loses patience and runs into the hospital, finds her father, and embraces him.
Though still needing to heal, Ethan carries Theia outside to a park where they can talk alone. He is filled with joy to see her still alive, but regretfully tells her that he is going to have Mercy take care of her from now on, because it’s his affiliation with the mob that got her kidnapped in the first place. Theia demands he promise to come back once he finds a way to be free of his mob family. Ethan makes the promise, then Theia walks away toward Mercy across the field.
The main theme of Remnant, and the Remnant series as a whole, is how humans create their own greatest problems. Remnant explores the toxic mixture of human weaknesses our limited individual perspectives. This is why the first novel of the series was written from multiple points of view, so that even the reader doesn’t know anything outside of those perspectives. Like with real life itself, we don’t always know the big picture. The author has stated that he didn’t want readers to be able to predict the ending, or even know for sure what the novel was about, in order to add to the realism and to emphasize the moral of the story.
The novel never explains objectively what brought about the collapse of the United States, but, everyone has their own view on what caused it. The author has stated that, before writing Remnant, he wrote a detailed outline of the story that explains what caused the Collapse, but he will leave it to another author to write that story.
Michael Clements conceived the story that would eventually become Remnant and its sequels at the age of sixteen, but ultimately the first novel would not be written until he was twenty-four.
Initially, the series was planned to be four novels. Upon the publication of Remnant, the series was still only going to be four volumes long. Clements chose four as opposed to three because, “Trilogies areHowever, in mid-2016, Clements realized the story was naturally progressing in a specific direction he had not originally foreseen. “It needs to go differently, even if I don’t want it to.” Thus, he increased the planned number of volumes from four to seven.
Remnant is the first of seven novels. In December 2016, the year following the release of Remnant, its direct sequel, Resurrection, was released. The third novel, Relics, is currently being written, with plans from the author to release it in December 2019. The author has stated Relics is his personal favorite of the seven, and will most likely be the longest in the entire series.
The fourth novel will be named Realm; the fifth, Refuge; the sixth, Requiem; and the seventh, Revenant.
Of the future installments, the author has stated: “I have no doubt the fifth and sixth volumes will be the darkest of the seven. Like how the first and second were really just two parts of the same volume, so will it be with five and six. But as for the fourth, I think readers will find it the most entertaining and the easiest to read. The final volume will be an epilogue in a sense. I think the main bulk of the story will be resolved by the end of number six, and the seventh will just be there to tie up loose ends.”