The Dead Lands

Grand Central. Apr. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9781455528240. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455528226. F
OrangeReviewStarA century and a half after a deadly pandemic and nuclear exchange, what remains of St. Louis has become Sanctuary, a walled city surrounded by the desert known as the Dead Lands. The government is growing more oppressive as conditions worsen, and then a strange, black-eyed young woman rides out of the west claiming there is a green land where the rain falls and everything grows. The rulers of Sanctuary can't afford to allow hope into the metropolis, but a small group, including museum curator Lewis Meriwether and city guard Mina Clark, break out and head up the Missouri River to find this land of Oregon. Pursued by hunters from the city and surrounded by deadly dangers, both human and not, this small band of explorers must keep heading west until they discover just what is waiting for them on the shores of the Pacific.
VERDICT Percy's sophomore outing (after the acclaimed Red Moon) is not only a compelling postapocalyptic adventure populated by fascinating characters but a clever riff on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Fans of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, and Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven will embrace this literary vision of humanity's first steps back up the ladder of civilization after near-extinction disasters. [See Prepub Alert, 10/13/14.]
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