This kicks off with one of my favorite first chapters in months. Sure, it only takes a second or two to know what's going on in it, but it's really well done, even if it isn't a mystery (I'm not sure it was supposed to be, but it seemed that way). Risen grabbed me right off and didn't let go until the end.
Our protagonist is suffering some sort of amnesia -- he doesn't know who he is, where he is -- even when he is. He finds himself in a city that's definitely seen better days. It's pretty much the poster child for dystopian ruins -- Chicago in Divergent, for example. But with fewer people (maybe).
He enlists the assistance of a homeless man to guide him through both the culture and geography of this city and the surrounding. They encounter a street gang that seems to run just about all the city, a severely under-staffed church that seems to be just about the only place in town not run by the gang, and an extended family (of sorts) that lives outside the city.
And by "encounter," on the whole, I'm speaking of the violent type. Nameless remembers very little, but he seems to remember how to fight. Each fight does tell us a little more about the world and Nameless, so they're not just fun bits of gratuitous violence.
There's some supernatural stuff going on (not just in this city, but on the other side of the country), possibly Spiritual forces (in the religious sense), and . . . who knows what all, really?
All this is told with grim humor and a strong narrative voice that keeps the reader engaged in the story and characters -- not just in the "I wonder what's going on in this strange world" kind of way. Even knowing practically nothing about Nameless (making me a lot like him), I liked him as a character and want to read more about him.
My one complaint is length -- just about everything is too short. The story is too short, most of the scenes are, too. But I'm pretty sure that's just my wanting more for myself -- to give us longer scenes would ruin the pacing, would mess with the way Miller's constructing the series. And really, when you get down to it "I wanted more!" is more of a compliment than a complaint -- but I'm calling it one nonetheless.
A fast, gripping read that'll leave you wanting more. A perfect little palate-cleanser between heavy reads. I'm eagerly waiting for further adventures of Nameless and finding out more about him and his world.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Risen by the author in exchange for an honest (and, it turns out, over a month overdue) review.