The Dead Lands is beautifully written, massive in scope and invention, giving a relatively new take on the post apocalypse novel with slavery and mutated animals, the return of a system of magic that sits in the pocket of the furthest realms of quantum physics. Yet, it did not satisfy me as a reader.
It’s structure felt a little off, too enamoured of the setting and the concept to really deliver the story that I felt Percy was aiming to tell. It might be a good demonstration of Dunning Kruger but Percy can and does deliver some lovely set pieces, but the underlying energy isn’t there in this book. The start and ending feel rushed, and the middle, which veers between an expedition fraught with tension and horror and an impending rebellion against a decadent dictator does not move with the energy. It was a little affected, and when I compare this to Justin Cronin’s The Twelve trilogy, of which we have had two parts, then it does not match up to the literary power of those books. I was unconvinced, reading and then continuing on the credentials that he established so effortlessly with Red Moon.
Which I could enthuse about at great length, but here the proficiency and the expectation that I had for this work against it. The Dead Lands chases trends rather than sets them. It feels slightly tepid, cautious in the wrong places and too enamoured of itself to really have gone in and given it a more robust story. I couldn’t connect with the characters at all and found that I was merely interested to see how the story ended rather than invested in them.
I wanted to enjoy this, but it was disappointing. A collection of elements all too common and none of them hanging together particularly well. It felt rushed and insecure and the lack of confidence made it’s flaws apparent. I was looking forward to this book immensely but it let me down in the finish.