I missed reading Benjamin Percy's last novel, Red Novel. The positive reviews I read had me eager to read his latest release, The Dead Lands.
Percy had me at 'post-apocalyptic'. I love books that explore what the world might be like when what we know ends.
Between a super flu and nuclear fallout, most of mankind and society has been wiped out. But there are pockets of humanity left. One such group has barricaded themselves in what is left of St. Louis and dubbed it The Sanctuary. It's a militant society, but at least the inhabitants are alive behind its walls. (It somewhat reminded me of Woodbury from The Walking Dead) And until the day a young woman on a horse rides through the gates they are satisfied with being alive. But not everyone is. A young pair -Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark decide to go outside the walls. The young woman says there is much more out there - water, crops and a better society.
Lewis and Clark (Aha - just like the explorers!) strike out. But the journey there is arduous, filled with danger from within the group, from The Sanctuary and the land they are traversing. And the girl may have lied....
I loved the idea, I liked the characters - actually my favourite character was Ella - a supporting player from The Sanctuary. I did find the mayor of The Sanctuary and his henchman Sheriff a bit cliched. Percy has done a good job with world building. The journey to the unknown will have you rooting for our explorers. But. Yes, there's a but. No doubt, Percy is a talented wordsmith. But sometimes too many words is just, well too much. I wanted more action, not more descriptions. I started getting bogged down in the details - and I found myself skimming.
Creatures such as albino giant bats seemed more fantastical than apocalyptic. Maybe that's just me - and what I was hoping to find. A good read, but not great for this reader. Here's an excerpt of The Dead Lands.