I’m a little late getting to this one, as the omnibus version came out in June, but I finally got to it. (My TBR pile is pretty tall, and since I’m usually working on reading about six books at a time, not to mention writing, it can sometimes take a bit.)
I haven’t read any of the rest of the Perseid Collapse series, but that doesn’t take away from Ross Elder’s contribution. There is little extra background needed, and what is needed is provided.
The book opens after the Perseid Event (the nature of which is never clear in the Scavenger Trilogy, though there is some speculation), with society already pretty well in collapse. We meet the protagonist, Zack Morris, as he’s investigating an abandoned house.
The next couple of chapters cover not only the history of recent disasters in the setting, but also Zack’s personal history. Ross took a risk here, because it can easily seem like a prologue info-dump. But when you realize that this is a character who is mostly alone, and who lives predominantly in his own, head, it only makes sense.
What starts as a night scavenging trip proceeds to escalate into the real story, with a confrontation with a local militia, led by a sort of robber baron (in a literal sense of the term; the militia is sustaining its supplies by “confiscating” from the surrounding populace by force).
Altogether, it’s a short read, but Ross tackles some interesting issues along the way, including the unintended consequences of violence, however justified, and the danger of becoming so focused on “survival” that it eclipses anything else.
Along the way, we come to understand that Zack is a profoundly broken human being, and has been since childhood. This does not stop him from trying to be a hero, and largely succeeding, though at great cost.
Being a survivalist story, there is a fair bit of the usual survivalist tropes in play, though considerably more understated than most such stories I’ve seen (though, granted, it’s not a genre I read a great deal of). The descriptions of hideouts and supply caches are quite detailed enough for the hardcore prepper nerds, without being particularly gratuitous. Same with the gun porn. There’s a little bit, but not especially distracting (and I’m no one to be calling the kettle black when it comes to gun porn).
The combat scenes are well done. There is a hand-to-hand fight that is quite sufficiently desperate, as the combatants are desperately trying to kill each other while at the same time trying not to get killed themselves. It’s a down and dirty fight that reads like a real fight.
There is a romance, and if it seems slightly rushed, it’s not entirely out of place. It’s also pretty tastefully done, never devolving into the pulpishness of, say, William W. Johnstone’s Ashes series.
The only real con I could find with the story is that, honestly, it could have done with one more editing pass. There are a few jarringly awkward sentences, and a few issues where the wrong word was used, but it can clearly be seen which word was supposed to be there. I’ve seen far, far worse, though.
Overall, The Complete Scavenger Trilogy is a pretty good read.