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The Dead Lands: A Novel by Benjamin Percy
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The Dead Lands: A Novel (edition 2015)

by Benjamin Percy

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1661371,708 (3.53)8
Member:TheAlternativeOne
Title:The Dead Lands: A Novel
Authors:Benjamin Percy
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2015), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Science Fiction

Work details

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

  1. 10
    The Passage by Justin Cronin (4leschats)
    4leschats: Both this books and the 2 in The Passage Trilogy (The Passage and The Twelve)address alterations in the natural universe brought on by post-apocalyptic changes. Many common elements: journeying through devastation, survival, overcoming evil, etc.
  2. 10
    The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (4leschats)
    4leschats: Post-apocalyptic water shortage leads to power struggles and fights for survival
  3. 00
    Swan Song by Robert McCammon (sturlington)
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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I think my love affair with apocalypse literature has to do with being a child of the cold war. I have some many favorites from the old classics. When a new entry in the genre comes up, I am always eager to see how it stands up. For those who have a preferred method of ending the world, do not despair: The Dead Lands' apocalypse has two. It creates a unique post apocalyptic world.

Two of the main characters have the surnames of Lewis and Clark. They start the story in St. Louis, but due to a series of events/circumstances, they set out for the Pacific northwest coast. They are using maps that were from the world before. They do not know what dangers they will face from the elements, mutated animals or other humans. The one character, Lewis, keeps a journal where he is recording their progress and also what they find as they travel through the apt named dead lands.

I enjoyed that the characters were not two dimensional. Even a minor character had a more robust presence than main characters in some books I have read. The descriptions of the landscapes, animals and people were terrific. I had no problems picturing what the author was seeing when he wrote those descriptions. The explanation for how the world ended was believable. The science he used in explaining the apocalypse and it's aftermath was understandable and rational.

It wasn't until approximately the last fifty pages that I had an issues. I was left with a couple of unanswered questions and wasn't madly in love with how the resolution of the story was achieved or the epilogue. Quite honestly, it may not be the author's fault. When I read a book I enjoy, I tend to gulp it down. The questions that went unanswered by the end of the book may have been answered, I just missed them. I will have to reread it again in the near future.

I would recommend The Dead Lands to anyone who enjoys good fiction. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a love affair with post apocalypse fiction. If you have read any of Mr. Percy's previous works, you will love The Dead Lands. Which reminds me, if you have not read the author's previous book, Red Moon, go buy/borrow,rent it now. Best. Werewolf. Story. Ever.
( )
  nhalliwell | Nov 13, 2016 |
It's 150 years after a superflu epidemic and subsequent nuclear missile strike/power plant meltdown have decimated America. When the crisis hit, the city of St. Louis walled themselves off from the rest of the country and called themselves the Sanctuary; no one but the rangers are permitted outside the wall, where it's believed that nothing survives but mutant sand wolves and giant spiders. Then a rider appears, a girl with completely black eyes. She has brought a message of distant Oregon where there is still water and green things grow. Her name is Gawea and she takes Meriweather Lewis, a woman ranger named Clark, her lover and her brother, and a doctor back with her. They are on a mission to meet up with Aran Burr, a sorcerer-psychic type. It's a harrowing journey, and when they get there... well, things aren't as they seem, of course.

(Aren't the names just too cute? Lewis and Clark--do you get it? Of course you do.)

This post-apocalyptic/dark fantasy/horror/quest/adventure reminded me strongly of The Stand, Swan Song, and The Passage. I think Percy is earnestly trying to add his own contribution to the mix, but this book just falls short. There is a certain roteness to it, a by-the-numbers feel, that detracts from any suspense that might have been engendered. The characters, with their allusionary names, never really come to life. Percy is definitely of the "anyone can die at any time" school, and that too seems predictable, like he's killing people off just to kill them off. Crucially, the reader doesn't particularly care.

There are a few good scenes. The mutant albino bats part is pretty exciting, but it seems unconnected to anything else. There was one part, where just for a second, when we get in the Gawea's head for the first time, that I felt excited, as if this novel was not heading where I thought it was heading. But that spark was quickly stamped out. I finished the novel not because I wanted to but because I had come too far to give up on it.

This book seems manufactured, as if it were assembled in a factory. It's not badly written, but it doesn't spark emotion. It never feels truly real. Its promising premise enticed me to buy it, but for me, it was a disappointment. ( )
  sturlington | Apr 4, 2016 |
I received this advance copy from Edleweiss in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the blurb about the book, I noted that it was yet another dystopian novel placed in St. Louis, Missouri. If I lived in St. Louis, I might begin to wonder why so many disaster stories feel at home there. However having said that, it does seem that after global catastrophes, places like The Sanctuary spring up around the infamous Arch and the American midwest. So I raised my hand and asked to see what Benjamin Percy had in mind for the future of the survivors in his world view.

The story begins over 150 years after a virulent flu pandemic spread globally like wild fire. Those nations possessing nuclear weapons tried to lessen the spread of the flu by launching their arsenal of nuclear weapons. Not sure I accept that as a viable containment method but our author saw that in his vision.

In The Sanctuary democracy has died and those reader's familiar with management theory of the Peter Principle will recognize that the leadership role, over several generations, has devolved to a tyrannical power in the form of a corrupt mayor incapable of moving the new social order beyond his own narcissism. Order is maintained through mind control, rationing and violence. The citizens are convinced that life cannot and does not exist outside their fortified enclave.

Wait for it…..until a stranger arrives with news that sounds too good to be true. There is a life in post-flu Oregon that offers fertile soil and the presence of water; voila, paradise awaits those willing to cross the highly radioactive and totally annihilated arid landscape of America between Missouri and Oregon. There are no longer worries about normal lions, tigers and bears. The current wildlife surviving the onslaught of virus and radiation have mutated into terrifying carnivores that defy reality.

A small sect of citizenry feel compelled to believe the stranger and follow this mysterious leader out of The Sanctuary. The big bad Mayor is not happy about the escape and is determined to stop the escapees at all cost before they reach Oregon. To maintain control, he must maintain the illusion that life cannot exist outside the fort.

The apocalypse has many other secrets that I won't reveal so, dear reader, you will have to read the book to get the details.

I did like the play on names through-out the book, most noticeably, the lead characters, Lewis and Clark.
At times I felt parts of the story lagged along . The ending seemed rushed; but over-all I read the book quickly and was very entertained. I would recommend it for fans of this genre of story-line.
( )
  Itzey | Jan 23, 2016 |
i did try to listen to it...so science fiction
  JJKING | Oct 5, 2015 |
ABR's original The Dead Lands audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Being a child of the cold war, I have a love affair with apocalypse literature. I think it was all those moments spent under my school desk during bomb drills wondering what would happen if a bomb hit (the desk was certainly a goner). I have some many favorites from the old classics. When a new entry in the genre comes up, I am always eager to see how it stands up. For those who have a preferred method of ending the world, do not despair: The Dead Lands’ apocalypse has two, plague and nuclear. It creates a unique post apocalyptic world.

The book recreates the nineteenth century journey of Lewis and Clark through the mid and western United States. This journey is different in that it takes place many years after the world has been badly damaged by the plague and nuclear bombs. Two of the main characters have the surnames of Lewis and Clark. The characters starts in St. Louis, but then set out for the Pacific northwest coast. They are using maps that were from the world before. The one character, Lewis, keeps a journal where he is recording their progress and also what they find as they travel through the apt named dead lands.

All the characters were well rounded, none were two dimensional. Even minor characters had a more robust presence than main characters in some books I have read. The descriptions of the landscapes, animals and people were terrific. I had no problems picturing what the author was seeing when he wrote those descriptions.

The production values are very good. It is a professional production with clear sound. The narrator, Holter Graham, does a great job. He speaks clearly. I had no problems understanding any part of the book. Mr. Graham does not create drastic new voices for each characters. The changes are very subtle but it works. Mr. Graham conveys strong emotion well when the story requires it. He also allows the personalities of the very different characters to come through without resorting to falsettos for the female characters.

At the end of the book, I wasn’t madly in love with how the resolution of the story was achieved or the epilogue. Overall the book was very good. The ending may be the start of another book. I do not know if Mr. Percy has planned a series or not. It is certainly a very interesting universe that I would enjoy seeing explored more. I would recommend The Dead Lands to anyone who enjoys good fiction and especially those who are fans of post apocalypse fiction.

Audiobook provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Sep 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
***
Into The West.

If you have been reading as long as I have, you will have come across more than a few post-apocalyptic novels. I’m not exactly sure what the attraction is, but I think it might be the contradictory pleasure of destroying one world and re-creating another. Whatever the case, a writer needs to find a fresh new take if they want their book stand out. The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy has some new angles, but it didn’t blow me away.

The Dead Lands is essentially based on the western adventures of the Corps of Discovery; two of its main characters even share almost identical names; Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, which is kind of conceptually audacious, but aside from that it doesn’t mean too much.

In the future, one hundred fifty years after war and disease and famine have nearly destroyed the world, St. Louis, now called the Sanctuary, is a shielded community that has managed to survive through a militant defense and draconian leadership. Life there is brutal and harsh, unless you are the Mayor or one of his cronies. For all they know they may be the last city left in the world, until one day a rider shows up, claiming to be from the West, with tales of bountiful water and food, but also the threat of a dangerous army, bent on conquest. Her name is Gawea. The Mayor, who is almost a caricature of the evil bureaucrat, wants to execute her. A guard, Clark, and the town historian/curator, Lewis, decide to sneak out of the city and head West. They are followed by a small yet plucky group of ragtag explorers, and the rest of the novel follows the explorers on their trek, and some of their friends left in the city who decide to rebel and overthrow their dictatorial leaders.

Mr. Percy’s prose is startling, but at times stilted. He knows how to plot, and keeps the various story-lines and characters rolling along. The action scenes were well-handled, and there was a lot of suspense. The main problem I had was with the characters. There are a variety of types, but I found most of them boring. With the exception of Mina, I was pretty much indifferent to their fates. While I kept reading to find out what would happen next, I really didn’t worry about the fate of most of the characters, which damped down the tension a bit. It wasn’t a question of them being likable or unlikeable, but just flat.

My other complaint was that near the end the action felt very compressed compared to the pace of the rest of the novel. It felt like Mr. Percy didn’t want to past a certain length, so he had to cram a lot in at the end. The world was a bit wonky as well, with giant vampire bats and charters developing “super” powers, which took away from what was otherwise a gritty and believable world. What frustrated me was that this book was so close to being a real knock-out, but fell just a little short. The Dead Lands is a solid novel, but I’m really looking forward to see what Mr. Percy does next.

Review by: Mark Palm
Full Reviews Available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 
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All stories are in conversation with other stories--Neil Gaiman
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For Lisa
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