Review: THE DEAD LANDS by Benjamin PercyThe Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 14th 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, General, Literary, Thrillers
Hardcover provided by Grand Central Publishing

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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.

Reading time 4 mins

The Dead Lands is a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the adventures of Lewis and Clark. This book is nothing like the adventure I imaged for Lewis and Clark. This tale includes dark leadership, America 150 years after a super-flu, living mutants, fierce love, indifference, theft, loyalty, friendship, thirst, affluence, and an adventure across a rugged terrain.

Meriwether Lewis and  Wilhelmina “Mina” Clark have been friends since childhood. She was always the stronger of the two, but there is something special/different about Lewis. In a city that acts more like a prison, Lewis and Clark are doing hard time just surviving. Her as a guard of the outside lands, him as the keeper of the only source of entertainment in a city of thirst, the museum of what used to be. In what was once St.Louis a fortress city stands. It is 150 years after the super flu came and killed 99.9% of the population, those left dropped bombs to try to stop the assault. The nuclear fallout has reeked havoc on every living thing left. A girl, a clairvoyant named Gawea, on a horse comes to bring Lewis to her leader. She is quickly taken captive and Lewis enlists Clark, and a few chosen others, to help him escape the city with the girl to see where she has come from. The journey will take them through danger and change the world as they know it. From Missouri to Oregon, Lewis and Clark set out on an adventure.

I was completely captivated by this story from the first few pages on. The writers sets us up in a world full of dangerous animals and even more dangerous people. The world building in this book is fantastic and very believable. I was as terrified as the characters must have been to set out and face the elements and even more scared of the people they might encounter. In this world we are pursued by giant spiders, gigantic vampire bats, and bears that don’t sleep in winter. We also encounter slavers and magicians who desire power over people. The terrain and the climate are just as unforgiving.

Back in St.Louis the people, especially the girl (Ella) left to tend to the museum, are tired of being held captive. The story of Ella and her little friend Simon had me rooting for their triumph over the evil tyrants that run the town. They get a little help from an owl and a beautiful mistress. Their story could easily have been its own book. I loved that every other chapter we got to check in on their progress and their scheming to expose the evil leaders and motivate the people.

The relationships forged in this story are what really did it for me. Clark, in all of her strength, is just a big sister protecting her little brother York, and her weak willed friend Lewis. York serves as a bit of comic relief in this story. Gawea is a mysterious loner. I felt really felt for all of them, even Reed and his pathetic efforts. Lewis and Clark were my favorites, of course. This story is theirs.

This is a great story. To say I loved it, is actually an understatement. Dyspotia is my favorite genre, and The Dead Lands is exactly the kind of book I hope for. This book combines so many genres. It is post-apocalyptic dystopian, with a little science fiction and fantasy sprinkled in. It is wildly imaginative and completely captivating. It is a story I will not soon forget. I highly recommend this book.

My Rating

About the Author

Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, The Dead Lands (Grand Central/Hachette 2015), Red Moon (Grand Central/Hachette, 2013) and The Wilding (Graywolf Press, 2010), as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire (where he is a contributing editor), GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, the Wall Street Journal, Tin House, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, and the Paris Review. He also writes screenplays and comics. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Plimpton Prize, the Pushcart Prize and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. He is the writer-in-residence at St. Olaf College and teaches at the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University.

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I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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