IN THE LESSENING is a dystopian novel, a time beyond, when much of the U.S. population is gone; those that remain divided between the METRO, a network of subterranean systems, and a relative few of hodgepodge villables called communities.
The story is influenced by classics first read in high school, 1984, Watership Down, Fahrenheit 451 and a host of films going back to the 1927 silent film, "Metropolis". Rather subdued compared with the violence of of some other stories, still, the plot picks-up with the understanding that the Metro is predatorial and, at times, hunts down lone members of a community simply for sport.
Community is in every sense that; a developing collection of leftovers that somehow survived was is implied as a thermonuclear attack and, through strength beyond only one, came to be, resilient and steadfast. Communities have some form of interconnectivity that, unlike the "wired" Metro, relies on the ancient forms of communication and contact, couriers that run routes, delivering and receiving dispatches and such. As to the basics, each and all contribute and are encouraged to ply and develop trades, salvage and then create, supplying their needs one with another.
The plot picks-up with a Metro shuttle derailment and the rescue of one sole survivor of the system. How Community responds to this loner is quite remarkable given their plight, Metro's treatment of these defenseless souls; but then, that is what makes Community and true community--what is their body and blood, the secret of their survival in the lessening.