Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: 14th April 2015 from Grand Central Publishing (US) and Hodder and Stoughton (UK)
Source: Netgalley via Grand Central Publishing – thank you
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 really enjoyed this one – it seems to have been a bit hit and miss with advanced reviewers but for me it was a big hit for several reasons.
Firstly I was fascinated by the set up and the world building. Set in two locations if you like, firstly The Sanctuary which is anything but and secondly in The Dead Lands – the world outside The Sanctuary. The world has been decimated both by an epidemic and by nuclear explosions – in the world of The Sanctuary safety comes at a high cost, outside the walls danger lurks around every corner.
Secondly I loved the characters – Found them all endlessly fascinating and was more than happy to take a journey with them even though I had no idea where it was going.
There are echoes of both The Stand and The Road here whilst also being definitively its own thing, which very much appealed to me, it was like taking an old journey with some new friends. As a small group leaves The Sanctuary in hope of something better, those left behind are living more and more dangerously under the thumb of an arrogant dictator. Jumping between the two situations gives the story an intriguing flavour, a dual narrative that is intelligently done.
There is also a beautiful storytelling twist as Lewis and Clark follow the path of another Lewis and Clark from our real world history – added into the mix is a possible evolutionary jump alongside some terrifically imagined creatures and wild west type dangers. The road trip portion was probably my favourite but overall for me it was just a stonking good read.
I guess I’m just a fan of this authors writing style and storytelling ability – after Red Moon which was a book I devoured, once more with The Dead Lands Benjamin Percy has captured my imagination, kept me up into the early hours and given me a remarkably good and satisfying yarn. Left open for a possible sequel I really do hope to read more from this devastated world – but for now I am very sorry to say goodbye to them all. I had a great time.
Happy Reading Folks!