This is a book review of Primitives by Erich Krauss, a post-apocalyptic novel released in May 2022. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review. If you’d rather watch a review, check out our Youtube Channel!
An exciting, fast-paced, and realistic post-apocalyptic thriller, Primitives delves deep into what makes us human.
Thirty years after The Great Fatigue infected the globe—and the treatment regressed most of the human race to a primitive state—Seth Keller makes a gruesome discovery in his adoptive father’s makeshift lab. This revelation forces him to leave the safety of his desert home and the only other person left in the world…at least, as far as he knows.
Three thousand miles away in the jungles of Costa Rica, Sarah Peoples has made her own discovery—just as horrific, and just as life-changing. It will take her far from the fledgling colony of New Haven, yet never out of reach of its ruthless authoritarian leader.
On separate journeys a world apart, Seth and Sarah find themselves swept up in a deadly race to save humankind. Their fates will come crashing together in an epic struggle between good and evil, where the differences aren’t always clear. Among the grim realities of civilization’s demise, they discover that the remaining survivors may pose an even greater threat than the abominations they were taught to fear.
Fighting for their lives, they’re confronted with a haunting question.
Does humanity deserve to survive?
Primitives, the first book of this saga, is a tale of bravery and self-discovery found in the ruins of a dying world, where the darkest sides of human nature are revealed.
If you’re someone who loves hardcovers, this one is stunning. There are images at the start of each chapter and a few larger pictures throughout. It’s gorgeous.
I really really really enjoyed this novel. If you’re a fan of the genre, you will love this. It’s set thirty years after the event, so we see isolated pockets of civilization, small groups travelling the countryside, there are mentions of raiders, there is an interesting take on zombies, and, of course, it has survivalism. It features several genre tropes we love, but it doesn’t rely on the tropes to tell the story.
Speaking of tropes, one of my favorites is when the characters take a quest across the wasteland, and this book gives us two of these journies on a converging path. As such, we see suburbia, deranged wildlife, records of dismal situations, Las Vegas, and San Diego. However, I would have liked more descriptions of these areas to fully picture the cities’ and landscapes’ decay and degradation.
While serious in tone, the novel is not as depressing as The Road but has a similar feel given how empty it is of humans. This was an element I enjoyed, as it made the moments when Seth, in particular, stumbles upon people a true test of human nature.
The book has snappy prose that moves at a pace that is sometimes almost too quickly but definitely keeps you hooked. The action scenes are exciting, well-described, and frequent. The chapters are short, and I kept convincing myself to read “just one more” to find out what happened next.
The most interesting about this novel is the “zombie” aspect. In truth, they aren’t zombies. I won’t spoil the how or why it happens, as that’s part of the fun, but humans have backtracked to a “primitive” state. They run amok, killing out of primal instinct. The people who are left are suffering from this disease they call The Fatigue, which makes them horribly tired unless they take this intravenous drug called NAD. When the explanation first showed up, I was skeptical about the scientific aspects, but it’s explained later in more detail which waylaid the concerns I had. It’s even more interesting when you find out in the “Author’s Note” that Krauss himself suffered a debilitating disease that was very similar, so the descriptions of what it feels like are authentic and accurate.
The plot is quite simple, but that’s not to say there aren’t twists or any of it is expected! It’s very enjoyable and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I liked the characters. Sarah and Seth both want to leave their homes for different reasons. Sarah was great because she’s not (as happens a lot in this genre) a cold and aloof perfect killer; she’s an ordinary young woman who is tough and determined.
Sarah makes mistakes, and doesn’t have fighting skills (except for being scrappy), but I cared deeply about what happened to her. Seth was a little less interesting to me because he’s a bit bland, but that could be because Sarah is so compelling and Seth, being raised with only his professor/father for company, hasn’t had anyone to develop a personality against. His arc was also interesting though, as it dealt with trust and betrayal.
The side characters, Cat, B, and Josh, were distinct, and while we didn’t know a ton about them, they helped move the story. They had more depth than the average hired goons. My favorite scene in the book (which I’ll call “the island”) even had me worried about one of them.
One thing that isn’t a problem, just a preference on my part, is that the book ends on a cliffhanger. This isn’t something I’m particularly fond of, but the novel was so compelling I’ll overlook that and will definitely read book 2.
If you enjoy post-apocalyptic adventure novels that sometimes delve into more profound concepts but still retain that quest energy, check out Primitives!
Check out the link here to see where you can buy the book (spoiler alert – almost everywhere).