The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy


The Dead Lands
Title : The Dead Lands
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 1455528242
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416

A MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS FINALIST IN NOVEL SHORT STORY 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.


The Dead Lands Reviews


  • karen

    okay, so this book is fantastic i mean, to me it hit all my personal zing buttons sharp characters and a george r.r martin esque willingness to pare them down, well described post apocalyptic world, surprising twists, bleak atmosphere, and a chewy, cinematic quality to the writing that pans around and takes in everything when it comes to horror, i can t appreciate that lovecraftian tradition that makes the reader work to see the horror i ll work for any other kind of book, but with horro okay, so this book is fantastic i mean, to me it hit all my personal zing buttons sharp characters and a george r.r martin esque willingness to pare them down, well described post apocalyptic world, surprising twists, bleak atmosphere, and a chewy, cinematic quality to the writing that pans around and takes in everything when it comes to horror, i can t appreciate that lovecraftian tradition that makes the reader work to see the horror i ll work for any other kind of book, but with horror, i want it all there on the page for me to immerse myself into it doesn t need to be splatter gore description, and in fact it s better if it s not, but my mind can t fill in the gaps effectively when it s forced to conjure up the ineffable i find it flat, boring and lazy which i guess describes my mind but this book is so descriptive that i could completely see the world he created and not just because the sanctuary has a real woodbury feel to it.another series this reminded me of, just in tone, was julianna baggott s pure series, which is a fantastic and underread post apocalyptic trilogy i urge you towards it it is immersive and spectacular, and i haven t felt as viscerally connected to a blasted wasteland in a novel until i read this one yes, Station Eleven is a great book, but it s a different kind of aftermath novel it s cerebral and it doesn t get its hands dirty like The Road, it s about the humanity that rises above the ashes than these, where the reader gets to actually roll around in those ashes and sometimes i like to get my hands dirty this book is many things an aftermath novel, an epic quest, a supernatural horror story, and there s love and revenge and betrayal and human trafficking and power that corrupts and knowledge that sustains and a little clockwork owl.it s the story of america, 150 years after a flulike virus caused people to cough blood until they died, and the insult to injury nuclear ping pong that resulted as a way to prevent its spread what little life remains is mutated from radiation, and the human part of it is no longer the uncontested top of the food chain we start out in the sanctuary a fortified compound in what was once st louis, where a man named thomas is the mayor of a dwindling community, which his panic of being deposed and losing all the resources he has secretly been hoarding causes to diminish further with public executions of potential threats to his authority lewis meriwether, the curator of the museum that serves as the sole entertainment for the walled community, is a quiet scholar whose father was mayor before thomas, and whose hermitlike existence and vast knowledge has given him a slightly spooky reputation the wizard in the tower his no nonsense assistant ella is the only one who is not in awe of him, and she is the closest thing he has to a friend wilhelmina clark and reed are both sentinels and rangers, keeping watch on the wall overlooking the wasteland beyond, and venturing out beyond to hunt and assess dangers.and one day, a potential danger arrives at the gates in the form of a black eyed young girl named gawea who claims to have come all the way from oregon, where a man named aran burr would very much like an audience with lewis what follows is an epic journey as lewis and clark and others go on a manifest destiny road trip across the blighted landscape, not knowing if the enigmatic gawea can be trusted, or what lies at the end along the way, they encounter horrifyingly altered animals, slavers, a band of heavily armed teenage girls, desert and snow and visions and madness and mutiny and it is outstanding.percy is so good with small details i still remember that horrifying zoo scene in Red Moon, and in this one, i will never forget the television set with the screen smashed in and dolls placed inside in some kind of desperate tableau.and his characters are so rich and go through such transformations apart from those already mentioned, there are other equally tremendous characters simon a young petty thief who navigates the secret catacombs of the sanctuary, danica thomas brittle trophy wife, clark s brother york a puppyish street performer, colter a tracker with his very own wolf pack, and slade, who performs all of thomas wetwork and his descriptions are arresting This morning, as the sun rises and reddens the world so that it appears it might catch flame, Clark stands at her sentry post atop the wall Around it reaches a burn zone of some seventy yards Beyond this grows a forest with many broken buildings rising from it, black windowed, leaning masses of skeletal steel and shattered stone The remains of the St Louis arch, collapsed in the middle, appear like a ragged set of mandibles rising out of the earth In the near distance, where once the Mississippi flowed, stretches a blond wash of sand.and his descriptions of the survivors with their striking deformities another thing i liked so much in baggott s trilogy A second set of teeth barnacling their shoulder Cysts bulging and sacks of fluid dangling Moles so plentiful that a body appears like some fungus found in the forest.i don t know much about the historical lewis and clark expedition, so i m sure i m missing a lot of references for example and conveniently enough, the book i read directly after this one had a character named york who was named after a member of the lewis and clark expedition, so there s a little wink i missed , but that s clearly not a prerequisite for enjoying this book, because i loved loved loved it.so i was genuinely stunned to see so many negative ratings on here i ve read the reviews, and i understand some of the complaints yes, scientific explanations are not a priority for percy which is something i am guilty of complaining about with other books, but mostly in books that were not very well written and had nothing else to make them stand out and not to stoop to saying anyone is wrong for their opinions, but i think that a barrage of scientific explanations would have dragged this book down i mean, there s not a lot of science in The Stand or The Road or Swan Song, but you know what they re fantastic, entertaining books whose focus is characters and atmosphere, not explanations i don t know poundcake about science, but percy s cause and effect explanations seemed fair enough to me i m not going to cry biologically unrealistic when i am treated to the entertainment value of GIANT BLOODSUCKING ALBINO BATS the size of horses, or any of the other amazing fauna that exist here after radiation has had its way with it that would be like some nerd pushing up his glasses and saying i don t reckon sharks would survive the rotation speed of a tornado, nor would they be able to breathe YOU ARE NO FUN, NERD just sit back and enjoy the bats.other complaints the villain was too villain y yeah, that s probably true but who doesn t love a completely irredeemable douchebag to root against and thomas is really the only character who is flat black evil there are characters who are creepier and do worse things on the page, koff slade koff , but i kind of felt bad for that guy, after seeing his home furnishings which were unquestionably horrific, but i am a softie for lonely psychopaths he loved his dog SO MUCH my only complaint is with the wrapping up of this book i started getting a little nervous about 50 pages from the end because i was thinking how the hell is he going to wrap this all up in so few pages answer not perfectly it s a little too rimshot abrupt, and it feels like the beginning of a marvel movie it was fine, just not as satisfying as the rest of the book was to me view spoiler and what happened to colter the last we see of him, he s banging on the door like an impatient husband and what he doesn t go with them on their avengers field trip to the white house where is his resolution i also would have liked to know what ella is up to now, although her last scene is pretty triumphant and while we re safe under spoiler shield, i was so freaking sad about simon ugh way to martin it, percy hide spoiler but yeah i guess i m in the near minority in loving this book, but i m perfectly content here no crowds, good view, and my heart filled with appreciation for someone who has taken the wasteland theme to a whole new level of unsettling

  • Althea Ann

    This month s post apocalyptic book club selection.At our meeting, this book elicited a pretty universal reaction of, Well, it was OK And I would have to agree.This is a pulp fiction story with literary pretensions Honestly, I think it would ve been better without the pretensions Much has been made of the concept that it s a retelling of the story of Lewis and Clark but in a post apocalyptic landscape But that s just a gimmick The plot neither follows closely nor comments on American his This month s post apocalyptic book club selection.At our meeting, this book elicited a pretty universal reaction of, Well, it was OK And I would have to agree.This is a pulp fiction story with literary pretensions Honestly, I think it would ve been better without the pretensions Much has been made of the concept that it s a retelling of the story of Lewis and Clark but in a post apocalyptic landscape But that s just a gimmick The plot neither follows closely nor comments on American history If the characters had different names, even the most avid student of 19th century exploratory expeditions would never, ever notice a correlation.The walled town known as Sanctuary has become less and less of one since a new leader took over As a matter of fact, it s become a brutal dictatorship, with people under the thumb of a madman But there are giant killer mutant spiders outside the walls, and no one knows if there s anywhere else to go.That is, until the girl Gawea turns up, with tales of an idyllic community to the West Of course, the mayor sees her as a threat to his power, and tries to have her killed After rescuing her, a team decides to go with her and see what she s talking about, in hopes of bringing good news back to their community Clark, a tough, hard woman is the driving force behind this trip, but essential to the expedition is Lewis whom Gawea says she came to find.Lewis is a nerdy historian who s been busy as a museum curator but he s also psychic, has mad steampunk engineer skillz, and may very well develop extra superpowers whenever the plot requires them So, off the group goes on the requisite Trek Through The Wasteland It will be arduous and plagued by beasts, madness, bizarre groups of survivors, and betrayal And at the end, we may assume from the start, no idyll.Meanwhile, back in Sanctuary, things go from bad to worse, and it will be up to Lewis assistant, a young woman, to try to fight the power it s entertaining, and moves along On the one hand, though, I thought the varied and disparate references to influences from various pop culture tropes were fun but on the other hand, I think this might ve been a better book if it had of a clear sense about it of what the author wanted it to be

  • Greg

    Benjamin Percy s novel is sort of a reimagining of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but across a 22nd century, post apocalyptic landscape filled with strange mutated creatures and a devastated environment I had a lot of fun with this book, apparently there are scientific inaccuracies in the book that some other reviewers have pointed out, but since I was reading the book to be entertained and not to be taught about evolution and science If you enjoy picking apart the problems of science in a bo Benjamin Percy s novel is sort of a reimagining of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but across a 22nd century, post apocalyptic landscape filled with strange mutated creatures and a devastated environment I had a lot of fun with this book, apparently there are scientific inaccuracies in the book that some other reviewers have pointed out, but since I was reading the book to be entertained and not to be taught about evolution and science If you enjoy picking apart the problems of science in a book like this I might suggest you turn your attention next to something like anything by Marvel that deals with mutants, maybe how it s not possible that any of the X Men could actually exist The basic background to this end of the world novel is pretty much the same as Stephen King s The Stand, a lethal virus gets out of a government lab somewhere in middle America and goes on to wipe out most of humanity Where Percy s story diverges is in the world response to the epidemic In an effort to quarantine the virus other countries start launching nuclear missiles into America, destroying large urban centers and helping to set into motion the environmental catastrophe the novel is set in The real problem though seems to have come from various energy facilities in the US that no longer manned eventually fail Mostly this is nuclear reactors melting down, but there are some other neat little things Percy throws into the mix of this awful future As I said, the science behind everything that happened might be inaccurate but it creates an interesting world for the story to take place in The story begins in St Louis, which is now a barricaded city with giant walls surrounding it That part of America survives in a perpetual drought filled summer where water is a precious commodity The city has a Walking Dead Woodbury feel to it, along with scary lethal things just waiting on the other side of the wall waiting to kill not zombies though The city is run by a unlikable hedonist who rules through fear and intimidation, but really in the situation that he is in there probably isn t that many other ways to meet the basic survival needs of the city I m not saying he s free of blame, he has than his share of awfulness about him, but he s really not in an enviable position Lewis is the son of the former mayor and now runs the city s museum Clark is a hard drinking loose canon solider and should i mention a woman When the story s Sacagawea shows up at St Louis she incites Clark to get together a group of people to leave St Louis in search of the rain rich land of the Pacific Northwest The myth that the city lives under is that they are the last bulwark of humanity, that everyone but them are dead and that the outside world is just filled with monsters and scarcity So leaving the city to go on this journey is unprecedented not that the appearance of Gawea in the city doesn t shake a lot commonly held beliefs the city had about itself But in the age old fashion of when someone tries to dismantle existing myths the city tries to kill Gawea instead of figuring out if maybe there is something beneficial they could do with the knowledge that they aren t alone So a group of them set out for Oregon where a man named Aran Burr awaits them having sent Gawea on the journey to bring Lewis across the country I guess that Burr is being used as a historical figure for his rebellion or whatever it was that he did for a short time in the western wilderness, but my memory of what the details of that were are hazy and maybe inaccurate since they just come from the Gore Vidal novel about him I had a lot of fun reading this book, I don t think it was as strong as Red Moon, but for the type of book it was I found it to be good My only real complaint with the book was the ending started to feel a little rushed, I don t think it ended poorly, just the ending is a little weird and breaks from the pacing the novel had established earlier on It didn t ruin the novel, though I ve already recommended this to a few people, and would definitely offer it up for someone looking for a dystopian novel that isn t written for a YA audience view spoiler I really liked the bit of a nod to Stephen King s Pet Semetary at the end when the nearly invincible Slade finally gets his I wasn t so sure about the epilogue, which I think Karen summed up perfectly as an Avengers, assemble moment that was maybe unnecessary, but did add a little bit of a twist to what the state of the world was Let s see other spoiler worthy things, I liked the assumed awfulness that was going to end up happening for everyone in St Louis, Percy doesn t lay out what is going to happen to them, but I can t imagine that after their insurrection they have any chance of survival, not that there was much hope for a real future in that city Ok, those are my thoughts on things that could be spoilerish hide spoiler

  • Patrice Hoffman

    I FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK Sorry it takes me so long to finish books now days but I had to see this one through to the end There s something about Benjamin Percy s writing that draws readers in He s descriptive and paints the portrait vividly of a dystopian world that s been ruined by a flu like disease I was hoping The Dead Lands was a sequel to Red Moon which I enjoyed for the most part So SPOILER ALERT It isn t Insert sad face here The Dead Lands is the story of a group of people I FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK Sorry it takes me so long to finish books now days but I had to see this one through to the end There s something about Benjamin Percy s writing that draws readers in He s descriptive and paints the portrait vividly of a dystopian world that s been ruined by a flu like disease I was hoping The Dead Lands was a sequel to Red Moon which I enjoyed for the most part So SPOILER ALERT It isn t Insert sad face here The Dead Lands is the story of a group of people who choose to escape the Sanctuary s fortress in hope that there is life outside of that hell They expect their journey will lead to a new less hellish hell I mean really, the world is ruined, could there really be a land of milk and honey somewhere Chances are there aren t, but the hope of that discovery keeps me flipping electronic pages and caring deeply for the characters who brave the dead lands.What s so captivating about The Dead Lands are the characters Percy holds nothing back in his efforts to create characters who are alive and breathing And the irony of the names Lewis and Clark are not lost on me Mr Percy I digress at times.Although I loved most of the characters, Lewis was by far my favorite His thirst for knowledge and preserving the history of the past places him on the Mayor s watch list despite their friendship many moons ago We witness Lewis battle all his own personal handicaps in an effort to explore the world outside of the Sanctuary There s also Gawea and Clark and actually all the characters you come across in this book are interesting, fully fleshed, and real Although it took me forever to read this book it wasn t because it was boring at any point I just have a very busy life There isn t any point where the novel slowed just to expound a character The novel reads at a steady pace that allows readers like me who read in short intervals to jump right back in and feel like I d never left at all The Dead Lands is definitely a worthwhile read about hope and the human condition in the worse possible circumstances Fans of Red Moon should give this book a go I didn t have any gripes with this book which is very surprising It was quite a journey of life in the dead lands Can t wait to continue this journey to the Alive lands no Copy provided by Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley

  • Karl

    There is noting in this book that would recommend it Its structure is bad, the writing is poor, and we ve seen it all prior and seen it better.

  • Scott Sigler

    I can see why this book produces such mixed reviews, but, as a writer, I loved it Percy has a talent for description, for painting pictures of people, settings and creatures that dance through my thoughts I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Holter Graham, and Graham s performance may have played a factor in how much I enjoyed Percy s lyrical writing style There are monsters galore in this a Lewis Clark expedition across a shattered There s even a Sacagawea in this book, simply G I can see why this book produces such mixed reviews, but, as a writer, I loved it Percy has a talent for description, for painting pictures of people, settings and creatures that dance through my thoughts I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Holter Graham, and Graham s performance may have played a factor in how much I enjoyed Percy s lyrical writing style There are monsters galore in this a Lewis Clark expedition across a shattered There s even a Sacagawea in this book, simply Gawea in the mix to guide them across a landscape bled dry from dozens of disasters Percy plays fast and loose with the science of evolution, but the rapid mutations leading to entirely new species aren t the meat of the story, they are there to hang a backdrop of our familiar landscape turned alien and hostile His description of how Things Went Horribly Wrong, however, feels rivetingly accurate, as if the process could begin tomorrow That might have been my favorite part of the book If you re in it for pure action, yeah, that s there, but if that is all you want it might not be for you THE DEAD LANDS is very much a literary story and there s ample amounts of breathtaking writing Percy s chops are sick I can sum up my feelings for this book in one final sentence I really hope there is a Book II

  • Veeral

    The Dead Lands is a post apocalyptic novel in the sub sub genre of science fantasy with a touch of steampunk as well , which prompted some readers to complain that the science of the novel made little sense And I empathize with them but only up to a certain degree Because I felt that the science of the post apocalyptic world was actually not inaccurate excluding the mutant creatures, of course , and the weakness actually existed with the ungainly fantasy elements, which overshadowed the The Dead Lands is a post apocalyptic novel in the sub sub genre of science fantasy with a touch of steampunk as well , which prompted some readers to complain that the science of the novel made little sense And I empathize with them but only up to a certain degree Because I felt that the science of the post apocalyptic world was actually not inaccurate excluding the mutant creatures, of course , and the weakness actually existed with the ungainly fantasy elements, which overshadowed the sciencey parts every now and then The book is long, which is certainly its major plus point and Percy never lets you feel stuck at any point throughout the whole book , but the mutant creatures, included to add some spice to the story, end up serving only as needless distractions.The book is a reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, where instead of exploring uncharted territory in a new land, here Lewis and Clark embark upon a journey to find a promised haven after the USA is ravaged by super flu and nuclear warfare Here, Meriwether Lewis becomes Lewis Meriwether, and William Clark is re imagined as a girl, Wilhelmina Mina Clark I confess I had to make sure by googling that indeed the real William Clark was a man and not a woman my history of Lewis and Clark is that scratchy, and that s why I have now put Undaunted Courage The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America s Wild Frontier on my immediate to read list.Lewis and Clark live in a walled city called Sanctuary, run by a token evil man As far as the people of the Sanctuary are concerned, theirs is the only city that has survived the apocalypse, that is, until a girl arrives from beyond the walls, through the dead lands, to tell them otherwise.Lewis and Clark leave on the expedition with the girl and few other people from the Sanctuary to reach the fabled land Lewis runs a museum in the Sanctuary the only entertainment for the people in the walled city , where he has an assistant named Ella Ella stays in the Sanctuary and ultimately teams up with a robber boy called Simon.From then on, Percy alternates with a chapter each of Ella and Simon in the Sanctuary, and of Lewis and Clark on their expedition towards the west.And that s when the fantastical creatures start to take the story apart The Sanctuary story remains compelling right till the end, but the hastily drawn creatures harrying Lewis and Clark on their journey make little sense.Even Bejamin Percy is aware of that He writes in the acknowledgement in the end And I m indebted to books like Alan Weisman s The World Without Us for helping me understand the science of the apocalypse The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss made me fall in love with fantasy again, and I owe him a debt of gratitude for that and for his intricate magic systems, which influenced my own clumsy attempts at spellbinding Notice the words clumsy attempts at spellbinding But when I read the descriptions of the post apocalyptic world, especially of the concrete deterioration of man made structures, they sounded so factual that I wondered whether Percy had consulted Weisman s book And I am glad my guess was right, for once.Sadly, I didn t care about either Lewis or Clark and given that they are the main characters, it was a bit of a downer , but I found the struggle of Ella and Simon in the Sanctuary really interesting, and in fact Simon is my favorite character from the book.You might have noticed Stephen King s approval on the book cover And I think it s there for a reason you can call it an unintentional foreshadowing , because Percy pulled a King here The ending of the book is as bad as a great King novel But despite its flaws, this book is the best post apocalyptic novel I have read in a long time because the bad parts are, thankfully, bearable, but the good ones are actually great

  • John

    It s All About the Spiders and the Bats, No ScienceOne of the most important science popularizers of our time, the late Stephen Jay Gould, began his scientific career by reviving the study of allometry quite literally, the mathematics of body size and shape while finishing his Ph D dissertation in invertebrate paleontology at Columbia University, and then as a young assistant professor of geology and assistant curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard University s Museum of Comparati It s All About the Spiders and the Bats, No ScienceOne of the most important science popularizers of our time, the late Stephen Jay Gould, began his scientific career by reviving the study of allometry quite literally, the mathematics of body size and shape while finishing his Ph D dissertation in invertebrate paleontology at Columbia University, and then as a young assistant professor of geology and assistant curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard University s Museum of Comparative Zoology now the Harvard University Museum of Natural History In both his scientific papers and popular science essays for the public, Gould showed the relevance of allometry in understanding the evolution of body size over time in animals as diverse as mollusks he was a life long student of the land snail Cerion found in the Bahamas and mammals, including us, Homo sapiens What he would think of Benjamin Percy s The Dead Lands A Novel could be summarized as with apologies to singer songwriter Meaghan Trainor It s All About the Spiders and the Bats, No Science In writing a far future apocalyptic dystopian speculative fiction thriller novel channeling the celebrated Lewis and Clark expedition during the first decade of the 19th Century, Benjamin Percy has all but ignored some basic, fundamental, facts relevant to evolutionary biology, unlike for example, Nancy Kress Yesterday s Kin and Jeff VanderMeer Area X The Southern Reach Trilogy , whose novels published last year, are quite cognizant of current evolutionary biology, and, in Kress case, rely on it for some major plot elements in her superbly written, quite terse, novel that is one of the most original speculative fiction novels ever published pertaining to first contact with aliens In his depiction of monstrous spiders and vampire bats, Percy assumes only that mutations from nuclear bomb detonations and atomic power plant meltdowns would result in such creatures, not realizing that there are limitations imposed not only by allometry, but also the daily metabolism of such creatures who need abundant, sufficiently large, prey, that would make their existence impossible, even in an apocalyptic dystopian speculative fiction thriller novel like The Dead Lands If we compare his scenario with what actually happened to local biodiversity after the Chernobyl, Ukraine power plant disaster, then we would recognize that there s no evidence of the kind of rapid, grotesque, mutations that could produce abnormally large creatures like those described in his novel what he has envisioned runs counter to scientific laws of chemistry and physics as well as evolutionary biology.Benjamin Percy is a fine writer, with excellent descriptive prose, but as a former invertebrate paleobiologist like Stephen Jay Gould was and a student of American history acquainted with the Lewis and Clark expedition, I was expecting a lot from The Dead Lands , which the writer doesn t quite deliver, even though he offers us an intriguing post apocalyptic future a century and a half after a viral epidemic and nuclear war has wiped out most of humanity He has his version of the Lewis and Clark expedition museum curator Meriwether Lewis and soldier Wilhelmina Mina Clark lead a small ragtag group from the Sanctuary a ruined Saint Louis to the Pacific Ocean shore of distant Oregon, led by the young clairvoyant woman Gawea, whose unexpected arrival on horseback to Sanctuary which has lost contact with the rest of the humanity for decades prompts Clark and several others to undertake the dangerous trek across the Dead Lands with its grotesque, monstrous creatures Gawea arrives with a message for Meriwether from one Aran Burr, prompting him to join Clark and the others Meanwhile, behind the walls of the Sanctuary, its dictatorial mayor, Thomas Lancer, and his sadistic sheriff, Slade, initiate a reign of terror against the Sanctuary s inhabitants, in reaction to Clark, Meriwether and the others departing secretly Some readers may find objectionable, Percy s appropriation of the names Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea Gawea and Burr, and also York, especially when the real York who was William Clark s slave as well as an expedition participant was a far noble figure than his fictional equivalent if I was a black American reading Percy s novel, I would be greatly offended by his fictional version of York, since that character is among the least notable in the Meriwether and Clark expedition It is worth noting that Matt Ruff in his exceptional post 9 11 alternate history speculative fiction novel The Mirage is far successful creating credible and far compelling fictional versions of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden than Percy is here, with the sole exception of Lewis Meriwether, this novel s most memorable character The Dead Lands is replete with logical inconsistencies of such a nature that they make Lev Grossman s Magicians novels seem realistic in comparison, especially when Grossman has done a fine job in world building, creating magicians who must adhere to certain formal rules of magic Midway through the book, the Meriwether Clark expedition encounter gigantic vampire bats which feed on its horses, and somehow drag Clark back to a deserted house that is their lair, saving her for a future meal Again, for the reasons stated in the opening paragraph of my review, bats even those affected by nuclear radiation couldn t grow to sizes sufficiently large enough to consume adult horses and to seize adult humans Near Bismarck, North Dakota, the expedition is attacked by gigantic snow white bears in the dead of winter however, there s little or no evidence for bears in the continental United States pursuing potential prey then, instead, they are hibernating, waking in the Spring when ample food is available Another notable example occurs at the end, when having described the Eastern Seaboard of the United States as a desolate realm still scarred by the nuclear holocaust which claimed Boston and New York, the three main characters Clark, Meriwether and Gawea arrive in a ruined, virtually deserted, Washington D C., still the capital city of what remains of the United States of America, meeting with its president, someone named Jefferson The Dead Lands is a sterling example of failing to adhere to what J G Ballard, and, recently, William Gibson, have referred to as the tool kit of science fiction While readers may still be interested in reading The Dead Lands because of Percy s excellent descriptive prose, it pales in comparison not only with Nancy Kress Yesterday s Kin and Jeff VanderMeer s Area X The Southern Reach Trilogy , but especially with a landmark classic apocalyptic dystopian science fiction novel, Walter M Miller s A Canticle for Leibowitz , regarded by many as the finest ever written

  • Lori

    Read 4 6 15 4 9 153 Stars Recommended to fans of post apocalyptic fiction that feels like an epic fantasyPages 400Publisher Grand Central PublishingReleased April 2015Let s get one thing straight right from the get go When I rated this book, I was really torn between three and four stars A big part of me wanted to rate it four stars because I read the hell out of this thing in a matter of a few days I didn t want to put it down and it s not very often that a book really pulls me i Read 4 6 15 4 9 153 Stars Recommended to fans of post apocalyptic fiction that feels like an epic fantasyPages 400Publisher Grand Central PublishingReleased April 2015Let s get one thing straight right from the get go When I rated this book, I was really torn between three and four stars A big part of me wanted to rate it four stars because I read the hell out of this thing in a matter of a few days I didn t want to put it down and it s not very often that a book really pulls me in like that But there was another part of me that thought about who I was rating the book for I rate the book for you The reader To help you decide whether this is the kind of book you d want to go out and read for yourself So I had to look at this book through the eyes of someone who reads post apocalyptic fiction and compare it against all of the other books out there in that genre And while The Dead Lands is most certainly a post apocalyptic book, it also reads like an epic fantasy So much so that at times, I had to remind myself that it was taking place in an undisclosed future or possibly a very distant past and not some alternate world.The novel opens up one hundred years after a series of apocalyptic events wipe out most of humanity While the threat of nuclear war and super viruses are things of the past, the world still suffers the effects of it greatly Most humans are deformed in some way stunted limbs, blindness, the development of strange powers and their deaths are usually brought about by cancer, melanoma running rampant due to the nuclear fall out still polluting the air and the dust And theirs is most definitely a world of dust.Our group of survivors live in The Sanctuary, located out in old St Louis It s supposed to be a kind of safe haven high walls surround it, an internal government rules it, and everyone s got a job to do, a way to contribute to the greater good But things are bad and only getting worse They are barely hanging on the water supply has run low, food is scarce, and everyone is fearful of Thomas, the new Mayor.Outside the walls is what is known as the Dead Lands Untold miles of dust and destruction, inhabited by super creatures Gigantic spiders and bats, hairless sand wolves Animals that were forced to evolve, that were poisoned during the fallout Those that rule within the Sanctuary s walls use these creatures as a consequence for potential usurpers and nay sayers Anyone who speaks out against the Mayor of the Sanctuary will find themselves exiled, tied to a tree in the woods beyond the walls, and left to be eaten by the horrors beyond as a warning to the others.Of course, for some, the Sanctuary is anything but And there s a small group of people who are planning to escape from it, in the hopes of finding something, anything better Led by Clark, a female sentry and supply runner, the group s willingness to flee the walls becomes a necessity when a strange rider named Gewea arrives at the Sanctuary s wall, pleading with them to come with her, back to her home, in Oregon She tells of green grass and endless supplies of water She speaks of their leader, Aran Burr, and has with her a letter, addressed to Lewis, a quiet man who runs the Sanctuary s museum and who is feared and mistrusted by many of the inhabitants Lewis recognizes Aran as the man in his visions, the man who has been calling to him in his dreams And so Lewis, Clark, Gawea, and a handful of others sneak out of the Sanctuary on an epic journey towards an uncertain future, towards a promise of a New America, all on the word of Gawea, a women whose jet black eyes hide many secrets.From here, the book breaks in half On one hand we follow Lewis and Clark s trials and tribulations as they make their way to Oregon, and on the other we remain within the walls of the Sanctuary and watch as Ella, Lewis s assistant at the museum, and Simon, a local pickpocket, take steps to tear down everything Thomas the Mayor has worked so hard to build.Part Station Eleven sprawling epic, years after an apocalypse, relics of the old world stored in a museum , part LotR minus the elves and dwarves but with just as many bad ass battles , and part history lesson Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea there are so many parallels , The Dead Lands can sometimes come across as a book that doesn t know exactly what it wants to be And while there were moments where I felt Percy was trying to take on way too much, or was losing his focus, in the end he did a really nice job pulling it all together.It s been interesting, watching Benjamin Percy s writing evolve over the years With each novel, he tackles larger landscapes His world building and story telling becoming solid, confident His books demonstrating a bit swagger Which makes it all the interesting when you realize that The Dead Lands is quite possibly his most polarizing novel to date

  • Benjamin Judge

    This is, to use a word that I don t think I have ever used before, a yarn A re imagining of the Lewis and Clark passage with characters helpfully called Lewis and Clark, just in case, you know, you were going to miss the reference but in post apocalyptic America albeit one still filled with references to Stephen King and the Rolling Stones and you know, guy stuff the home of weird mutants although it was the flu, not radiation that killed everyone, but hey ho eh, hey ho It s the future, s This is, to use a word that I don t think I have ever used before, a yarn A re imagining of the Lewis and Clark passage with characters helpfully called Lewis and Clark, just in case, you know, you were going to miss the reference but in post apocalyptic America albeit one still filled with references to Stephen King and the Rolling Stones and you know, guy stuff the home of weird mutants although it was the flu, not radiation that killed everyone, but hey ho eh, hey ho It s the future, so let s have some mutants I got a bit lost in the time scale Enough time has passed for every creature to evolve into something bigger and threatening and all full of fangs and sharp bits, but not so long that the clothes that people wear that were made before the flu attack haven t fallen to pieces I don t suppose it matters too much This is a boys book, where people know things in their guts, and women tell men to Hurry up and take me It s a bit silly It s a yarn It is what it is