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Literature: Remnants

The end of the world has come... and gone.

In the first book, nearly everyone dies. Then, it gets worse. Written by K. A. Applegate and Michael Grant the co-authors of Animorphs and Everworld, Remnants is a 14-book Young Adult series about what happens when a giant asteroid (the Rock) hits Earth. As Mo'Steel says, those kids from Lord of the Flies have nothing on some of the people in this group.

Eighty individuals are able to secure a berth on the Mayflower, an ancient space shuttle that was refitted with every possible bit of experimental technology that may or may not work, and NASA's last-ditch effort to save some small remnant of the human race. Most of them die in the 500 years between the destruction of Earth and when they are picked up by a sentient spaceship, driven insane by her loneliness. Mother downloads the data — as much art and history as NASA could compile on short notice — of the ship, and proceeds to create a series of less than safe environments in which her new playthings can amuse her. Eventually, the Remnants conclude that the only way to survive is to gain control of Mother, but they're not the only group with that goal in mind...

Of course, that's just the first half. Remnants is a dark series, with violent deaths in nearly every book. Aside from the art history and group politics, this is what happens when you combine Loads and Loads of Characters with Anyone Can Die. The author promised that Jobs and Mo'Steel would survive; anyone else is fair game.

And yes, believe it or not, this is a kids series. That does not stop it from being one of the darkest things ever written.

The series consists of fourteen books:
  1. The Mayflower Project
  2. Destination Unknown
  3. Them
  4. Nowhere Land
  5. Mutation
  6. Breakdown
  7. Isolation
  8. Mother, May I?
  9. No Place Like Home
  10. Lost and Found
  11. Dream Storm
  12. Aftermath
  13. Survival
  14. Begin Again

This series provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Survival, starring Tate, who is more or less a Recurrer otherwise.
  • A God Am I: Yago
  • Accidental Murder: D-Caf does this to Anamull.
  • Action Survivor: All of the Remnants.
  • Adults Are Useless: Olga, Mo'Steel's mom, is the only adult who isn't completely useless, but she's pretty close. Everyone else is entirely useless, especially Wylson, Violet's mom, who only makes everything worse by trying to take power. In the end, all the adults but Olga die anyway.
  • After the End: The state of post-Rock Earth.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Mother.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Kubrick's feelings toward 2Face.
  • Ambiguously Lesbian: Tate
  • And I Must Scream: Billy during the Mayflower voyage, during which he spends five hundred years awake.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Apocalypse How: Where do we start? It would be a class 4, if not for the survival of small amounts of humans and other creatures.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The destruction wrought by the Rock is described in exacting detail in the first book. First a small chunk that broke off the main asteroid utterly destroys San Francisco midway through, then the real thing at the end of the book.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Some of the survivors have this, but Mo'Steel takes the cake. Even he's not sure if it stands for "More Steel" or "Man of Steel" (he's broken so many bones most of them are made of metal now).
  • Babies Ever After
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: At one point, Yago, Amelia, and Tate all telepathically fight over who should take control of Tate's body. And they also drive Charlie insane.
  • The Bechdel Test: Surprising for something aimed mainly at boys, the series passes with flying colors.
  • Berserk Button: Do not mess with Mo'steel's mom. This is a lesson that Rattler learns the hard way.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Mother and The Baby, Mother controlling the ship and manipulating the Remnants and The Baby trying to take control of it. After Billy merges with Mother and The Baby is killed, the Troika and Yago become this trope.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Riders and the Slizzers.
  • Bizarro Episode: invoked Subverted. The Mayflower Project is fairly normal, all things considered, so it looks like Destination Unknown is going to be one of these. And then you realize that every book in the series is going to be like that.
  • Blessed with Suck: Billy. Also, the mutations, especially Violet's and Tate's, and especially the Troika.
  • Body Horror
  • Bury Your Gays: See ya, Tate.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Hey...whatever happened to D-Caf after he accidentally kills Anamull?
  • Colony Drop: The Rock.
  • Crapsack World: Anything that can go wrong in this series does.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Virtually every death in the series, but one standout is Big Bill's death. Worms eat his leg from the inside out, while he remains completely able to feel pain. The worms then spread to the rest of the body, and Billy does a Mercy Kill.
  • Cute and Psycho: Yago is described (by himself) to be one of the most desirable teenagers on the planet, starting all sorts of trends and having tons of fangirls.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Jobs and Echo's daughter, Tate.
  • Death World: Post-Rock Earth. For starters, the planet's rotation has stopped, causing it to be divided into two extreme climate zones with a mild Shadow Zone in between. Second, the surface randomly spews columns of flames-which kills one of the characters. Lastly, there are a variety of hellish beasts making life difficult for whoever decides to live on its surface.
  • Disability Superpower: Played subtly. Noyze was born deaf, but is able to hear now thanks to an expensive operation. She's one of the handful of Remnants that doesn't have any kind of mutation or power, but, thanks to spending the first few years of her life communicating entirely in Sign Language, she is very observant and quickly learns to "speak" the Blue Meanies' Sign Language.
  • Downer Beginning: It starts with The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Billy does it sometimes.
  • Driven to Suicide: The captain of the Mayflower shoots himself rather than going to sleep with the Eighty because his family was left behind.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Averted. In Applegate's version of the year 2011, cars have been made that can drive by themselves, so kids as young as twelve can ride them legally. The first book opens with Jobs taking a cruise on the highway.
  • Dwindling Party: They only sent eighty people in the first place, more than half of them died on the way there, and Anyone Can Die is in full effect for the thirty-some-odd people who made it to Mother. Not everyone dies in the end, and some more characters turn up when they return to Earth, but only seven of the Mayflower's passengers survive to the end.
    • If you're curious, the survivors are Jobs, Mo'Steel, Olga, Edward, Violet, Noyze, Roger Dodger, and, though there's some doubt about him, D-Caf according to the Wikipedia article about the series.
  • Dysfunction Junction: A large number of the characters have serious psychological problems. Some were like that on Earth (like Yago and 2Face), others got that way either because of the mutations or what they experienced during the trip (like Billy). Being the last survivors of Earth and subsequently getting put through hell wouldn't be good for anyone's psyche, mind you.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first book is the only one where nobody dies violently, although it technically has the highest body count of any book in the series, since every human on Earth dies in it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The characters go through endless hell, yet at the end of the series, Earth has been restored to its former beauty and everyone living a peaceful existence.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Rock causes one.
  • Earth That Was: Turns out that Earth is still habitable, if only just barely.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: The "Janes", girls who model themselves on Jane Austen characters in dress and manner - represented among the survivors by Miss Violet Blake - are like a somewhat more grown-up version that hasn't been filtered through Japanese culture and puts rather more emphasis on rejecting technology.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The beginning.
  • Ensemble Cast
  • Expy: of the Animorphs characters, naturally, although some of the parallels are a little loose.
    • Jobs —> Jake
    • Mo'Steel —> Marco/Rachel
    • Billy —> Tobias
    • 2Face —> Rachel (with the crazy amped up to ten)
      • A closer parallel might be 2Face —> Taylor/Sub-Visser Fifty-Two. Taylor is explicitly set up as a foil to Rachel, and the changes that make her a foil to Rachel also make her more similar to 2Face - namely the extra crazy, massive physical damage from a fire, and a concern with being, essentially, popular.
    • In a bit of a more subtle example, Violet —> Ax, both are the "alien" ones (she is member of the Jane Austen-inspired clique that rejects modern technology) with very convenient knowledge of the world they find themselves stuck in (loves art, and so can identify which paintings they're in and why it might kill them).
  • Eye Scream: One of the more obvious mutations Tamara's baby has is that its eyes melted. This doesn't seem to inconvenience it, but it's still pretty horrible.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Several.
  • Feel No Pain: Kubrick, due to having his skin replaced with some kind of clear covering... stuff. In fact, he doesn't feel any touch at all.
  • Fingore: In Destination Unknown, one of Violet's fingers gets eaten by worms.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: All of the Remnants who support each other. The only people who knew each other at the start of the series were Jobs and Mo'Steel, but by the end, they're extremely close. Being the last humans alive probably does that to you.
  • First Episode Spoiler: Mark's death.
  • Five-Man Band: It doesn't take too long for one to develop.
  • Flat "What.":
    And then [Noyze] was falling through a crater in the ground, a hole that had not been there a moment before but was there now, yawning, gaping, huge. She fell past walls of dirt and rock, her body impossibly straight, feet down, arms raised over her head. Her brain was blank but for the word what repeated over and over and over until it was one long word whatwhatwhatwhat that had no real meaning.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The Mayflower was a pretty solid example of the non-warning variety, although it had more people on it than the usual.
  • Forced to Watch: Mr. DiSalvo had to watch while his son's skin was cut off piece by piece.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Blue Meanies shoot them. They turn out to be Instant Death Bullets, as demonstrated by Shy's death.
  • Future Slang: Appears in a minor capacity, especially from Mo'Steel.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Genius Loci: Mother, although she could also be considered a Sapient Ship, since she has aspects of both.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: There's an enormous amount of violence and Nightmare Fuel in the series, and even some cannibalism. According to Word of God, no one at Scholastic other than the editor really read any of them.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: It's a common theme in the series. For one thing, it's the reason that Mother is so insane. Billy seems to have avoided ultimately going completely unhinged, but it definitely affected his head. Although it's hard to tell what's mundane trauma and what's him being Touched by Vorlons.
    • Alberto DiSalvo suffers from this when he tries to interact with Mother.
  • The Grotesque: How Kubrick views himself. And how everyone else views 2Face.
  • Happily Ever After: Assuming you survived to the end of the series, you actually got a pretty good ending, all things considered.
  • Hard Light: All the living creatures (and only the living creatures; the inanimate objects are real) native to Mother's world are made out of force fields and holograms, which does nothing whatsoever to stop them from being dangerous.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Remnants manage to force Mother to turn into The Daughter, who helps them get back to Earth.
  • The Hero Dies: The books don't shy away from killing major characters, most surprisingly 2Face.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Tate's sexuality was ambiguous, as were her feelings toward Tamara. Her lesbianism was more explicit in the unedited versions, as discussed here.
  • Horror Hunger/ Cannibalism Super Power: Tate's ability is that whenever she's afraid, her mouth becomes enormous and she tries to eat whoever is threatening her. This results in her eating Yago, Charlie, and Amelia.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Tamara's "baby".
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Tamara's baby needs to eat people to get power to fight the Riders.
    • Also, Tate's mutation involves her eating people that threaten her. Yago, Charlie, and Amelia all get eaten, eventually.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Big Bill.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Everyone says that one reason they have superpowers is that they were exposed to radiation aboard the Mayflower, although they also acknowledge that this isn't an adequate explanation.
  • Improbable Age: All but one of the Remnants to make it to the end of the series are kids.
  • Infant Immortality: Not exactly (since the youngest person in the Mayflower was around ten), but when the Mayflower lands, they note that you were far more likely to die if you were a teenager than if you were older. However, it gets subverted when the vast majority of those teenagers die.
  • Jerkass: Yago all the time, 2Face sometimes.
  • Just Before the End: The first book.
  • Kill 'em All: The entire series. It starts with the death of six billion people - all but the eighty remnants. Then, over forty of those remnants die, leaving a party of thirty-something people. They have a pretty high body count, too, leaving the series with only seven characters (possibly eight) alive.
  • Kudzu Plot
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Originally, it was a big revelation that the Remnants had landed on a ship instead of a planet. But it's been spoiled by so many blurbs and descriptions for the series that it's not really worth hiding here
  • Le Parkour: It isn't referred to by name, but Mo'Steel appears to be a practitioner, presented as part of his general enthusiasm for extreme sports; he and Jobs use it to get around their neighborhood quickly and stealthily in the first book.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Thirty-something characters make it to The Mother, and all of them are mentioned on a regular basis. And even more characters show up when they make it to the Earth That Was.
  • Meaningful Name: Shy.
  • Meaningful Rename: The books' future society is one where peoples selection of nicknames is far looser. They tend to choose something that that reflects them, ie—Anamull ("animal") and Yago (from "Iago").
  • Mind Screw: The entire series is full of sudden plot twists and unknown mysteries. It gets exponentially worse once the remnants decide to return to Earth, and suddenly the plot becomes almost incoherent.
  • Mistaken for Apocalypse: Played with. It turns out the Rock didn't destroy the Earth to quite the extent that they thought, but it was definitely an apocalypse.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Nowhere Land, the Remnants witness a battle between the Blue Meanies and some kind of... squid... things... around a sculpture while they were in an old-fashioned boat. The boat had cannons, so the Remnants decided to win the Meanies' favor by attacking the squids. But the cannons hit the sculpture, angering the Meanies. This caused them to attack and kill Shy.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The Mother, for most of the series.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted.
  • Odd Friendship: Jobs and Mo'Steel, as lampshaded by Violet in Nowhere Land.
  • Official Couple: Jobs and Violet, Mo'Steel and Noyze, Jobs and Echo, Violet and Sanchez.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Inverted; Applegate informed us beforehand that Jobs and Mo'Steel would make it to the end... and that everyone else was fair game.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: Only a few adults survived the hibernation in the Mayflower, but the majority of the kids aboard made it.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A large number of the (human) characters, because of the rename-friendly culture they come from. We do generally know their birth names - for example, Jobs is Sebastian Andreeson, Mo'Steel is Romeo Gonzalez, 2Face is Essence Hwang, and Violet is Dallas Lefkowitz-Blake - but they're only used by their parents.
  • Parental Abandonment: Most of the parents are dead, either due to hibernation failure or getting killed off during the series. The only parent that makes it to the end of the series is Mo'Steel's mom, Olga.
  • Planet Spaceship: The humans who awaken when the ship reaches a destination initially think they've landed on a bizarre alien world. They soon discover it's a massive spaceship controlled by a sentient AI that brought them aboard as a curiosity.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Probably an unintentional example, but in Them, Yago says that it'll be "freaks vs. normals", and he spends much of the rest of the series trying to create that conflict. The phrase "freaks vs. normals" would be very important in Grant's next series, Gone.
  • Promotion to Parent: Pre-series, Mark Melman to D-Caf. During the series, Jobs tries to take this role for Edward.
  • Psychic Powers: Billy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mo'Steel is red, Jobs is blue.
  • The Remnant
  • Robbing the Dead
  • Sapient Ship: "Mother" is a sapient starship. Unfortunately, after having been abandoned by her creators for centuries, she's also kind of insane.
  • Screw the Rules, It's the Apocalypse!: Almost everyone has this attitude to some extent, but the ones that really do are Mark and D-Caf, who break onto the Mayflower and get a berth so that they can survive. This doesn't really work out for Mark, who dies before the ship takes off, but it does for D-Caf.
  • Shout-Out: Doesn't happen enough to be a real motif or a proper example of Theme Naming, but The Beatles get two: the Blue Meanies, and the title of the fourth book, Nowhere Land. Also, 2Face.
    • Possibly an unintentional example, but at one point, Yago describes the Remnants he doesn't like as "Freaks and Geeks".
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Happens to everybody who dies aboard the Mayflower.
  • There Is Another: The Mayflower survivors think they're the last humans alive until they go back to Earth and meet the Alphas and Marauders.
  • Theres No Kill Like Overkill
  • Time Marches On: The Jobs/Gates discussion Jobs has with an FBI agent makes less sense considering their relative cultural positions in our 2011. There are a couple dozen more details that are also off, but some less than one reading in 2001 might expect, like self driving cars or links (we just didn't head mount them).
  • Token Evil Teammate: Yago. All of the remnants have to work with him to survive, but he's definitely evil.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: 2Face and Violet respectively.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Quite a few of the characters (it's never explained whether their superpowers appeared during the voyage or after landing on Mother), but especially Billy.
  • Transsexual: Or something of that nature.
    "It was [Cordellia's] Great-Aunt Rebecca (formerly Great-Uncle Robert)."
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: All of the kids do this a lot, but Yago in particular.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: Published in 2001, the first book begins in 2011, before their hibernation after earth is hit.
  • Two Act Structure: Books 1-10 are about escaping the Mother alive, books 11-14 are about restoring Earth to its former glory.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Tamara, Tate, and Noyze are all black women. Tate has Ho Yay with Tamara that was almost explicit homosexuality, and Noyze grew up deaf. 2Face is an Asian girl whose severe facial burns could be considered a disability, though they don't really inconvenience her that much directly.
  • The Unreveal: We infamously never find out what the Ancient Enemy is or how they got superpowers.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Yago, being the President's son, knows that he has to get people to like him in order to have control. This works to a surprising extent, dispute his being Obviously Evil.
  • What Could Have Been: Tate's sexuality and feelings for Tamara; Amelia's name was originally "Honey."
  • White Male Lead: Jobs, despite the rest of the cast being extremely diverse.
  • Word of Gay: This is how we know that Tate was originally going to be lesbian.
  • World of Chaos: Mother's artificially generated environment, which was mostly created from paintings. All sorts of paintings.
  • The Worm That Walks: Violet's mutation is the ability to dissolve in a mass of worms that can actually bring back the dead. She eventually passes it on to Rodger Dodger, D-Caf, and 2Face.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Mo'Steel is chosen to be the leader of the Marauders after he kills their previous leader.
    • This is also how the Riders' hoverboards work - they're mentally controlled by whichever Rider originally owns them, unless you kill that Rider, at which point, control goes to whoever is riding the board.

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alternative title(s): Remnants
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