Disrupting the Fragile Peace: Ben Percy and the Post-Apocalyptic Thriller
“That was how the sickness began, with a cough, a needling itch at the back of your throat that grew steadily worse until it felt like your chest was clogged with burrowing ants that you must—you simply must—expel, barking raggedly into your hands until they were spotted with blood. Accompanying this was a fever so powerful that a wet washcloth steamed when placed on your forehead. Your brain cooked. Your vision went red, with twirling black flies along its edges. And all this time you were coughing, coughing, until it felt as though your guts might uproot and push out your throat.” – Ben Percy, The Dead Lands
In BIn Benjamin Percy’s post-apocalyptic thriller, the world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare and a dangerous super flu. All that remains of St. Louis is the Sanctuary where few people carry on living as best as they can under tyrannical leaders. When a stranger rides into the Sanctuary from the wasteland beyond its walls, disrupting the fragile peace of the Sanctuary, she talks about life outside the walls. West of the Cascades there is rain, crops, and a thriving civilization. But there is also an army that is pillaging and enslaving any community that they find. Against the wishes of the Sanctuary’s leaders, a small group leaves in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their new nation, and to rebuild and reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight. This imaginative retelling of the adventures of Lewis and Clark is gutsy, ambitious, and wildly entertaining.
Percy’s syntax, in a few words, is unique and beautiful. If you are a lover of gritty, dark sci-fi or dystopian novels, you will not be disappointed. Not only is the story beautifully and skillfully written, but the subject matter is intriguing and will keep you entertained until the last page. When you read Percy’s writing you get the feeling that every word was carefully handpicked to masterfully arrange a sentence. Every detail in his story allows the reader to access his world and the people who occupy it. His chaotic dystopian universe is weaved together so perfectly that you can almost imagine the super-flu becoming reality. If you’re someone who doesn’t normally read sci-fi/dystopian novels, this book might just make you fall in love the genre.
About the Contributor:
Sarah Hatcher is entering her senior year of high school at Northwest Academy. Her passions include marine biology, reading copious amounts of books, and recreational napping. Her favorite genres are fantasy and science fiction, and her life goals are to discover mermaids and save the planet from destruction.
About the Author
Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, most recent among them The Dead Lands (Grand Central/Hachette, April 2015), Red Moon (Grand Central/Hachette, May 2013), and The Wilding (Graywolf Press, 2010), as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf Press, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Grand Central/Hachette, 2012; Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006).