Title: The Dead Lands
Author: Benjamin Percy
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In Benjamin Percy’s new thriller, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders.
Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon.
Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.
I’m going through an apocalypse novel phase at the moment. There’s a few that I’ve loved and a few that I’ve been really unimpressed by. I find Percy’s The Dead Lands really hard to place. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. In a world ravaged by flu and nuclear warfare, few survive and those who do are often affected by genetic mutation. Water and food are scarce and safety is nearly non-existent. Percy creates a frightening setting in the Sanctuary. This community of approximately 40,000 live in a walled off city, protected by a hundred feet of metal and rust from the mutated wild creatures outside the wall. No one comes in, and no one goes out. But when a rider arrives, it changes everything and a small group of people change the world of the Sanctuary.
There were definitely parts of this story that had me on the edge of my seat. Percy’s world inside The Dead Lands is full of monsters and monstrous people. You’re never quite sure what’s around the next corner or what’s going to spring out of the darkness. In that way, Percy creates a fast and heart pounding story.
But I found that at the halfway point, the story begins to unravel. Things start to get a bit loose and crazy as more and more characters are introduced. I’m still not quite sure what happened in the end. The climax is virtually skipped over and there’s little conclusion. The end-the incredible amount of loose ends left-leads me to believe that this is book one in a series, but I’ve seen no indication that it is. It’s unsatisfying and frustrating to see an author who spends so much effort world-building an incredibly detailed post-apocalyptic community, let it all slip away with a lacklustre, disatisfying, unresolved ending.
I’m a bit disappointed in this story. I’d hoped for more.