Paperback, 304 pages
Expected Publication: 8th April 2013 by Much-In-Little
Shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, blog-tour, books-i-own, lgbt-characters, read, read-in-2013, really-good, series-or-companions, title-appeal, young-adult, zombies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ten years have passed since Cape Town was destroyed in the war with the living dead. Now, human survivors are protected from the zombies that lurch around the suburban Deadlands by shrouded figures known as 'Guardians'. But the price for protection is steep: each year, the Guardians hold a human lottery in which five teenagers are chosen for a secret purpose.
Seventeen-year-old Lele hates everything about her life in the city: her new school, the brainwashed zombie-lovers, the way everyone seems creepily obsessed with teenagers . . . She wants out. Then she is picked as a Chosen One: but she's not prepared to face whatever shady future the Guardians have in store for her. So she runs for her life - straight into the Deadlands, and into the ranks of the Mall Rats - a renegade gang of misfit teens who have gone underground - and are preparing to take a stand.
Deadlands is not a book I had heard about and I hadn't heard of the author, Lily Herne, before I picked this book up, but I'm always willing to read books that are new to me, and it's even better when they're unexpectedly fantastic like this one! I am so glad that the publishers put Deadlands on my radar and I'm glad to be able to share it with you, too.
Deadlands is the beginning of a new young adult series set in Cape Town, South Africa. I have only read one other book set in South Africa, so this was still a relatively new setting for me. I loved the setting. I'm not all that familiar with South Africa or some of their dialect, so I was a little bit unsure at first, but after a few pages I soon adjusted to the setting - there wasn't much use of Afrikaans or references but that didn't devalue the authenticity of the setting - it just made it easier to understand. The fact that this is set in South Africa is of course very refreshing, but the setting of the enclave and the Deadlands themselves are incredibly atmospheric and gritty. The two sides of the city - the dangerous Deadlands where zombies roam and the (assumed) safer enclave, lawed by Guardians. The differences between the two are clear and very well written.
The storyline sounded potentially confusing, but that wasn't the case at all - the story was very easy to understand and follow whilst certainly having a good level of complexity. There is so much room for the story to expand and develop - there have already been some opportunities for twists and turns in this first book and I can only see more being added as the story progresses over the series. As I said, the story still is simple to follow - I was never confused by anything. There are lots of aspects to this story and to the city that Lele, the main character inhabits. This was certainly a page turner as I was reading quickly, trying to absorb every detail.
The characters were great to 'meet' and learn about the mix of characters in Deadlands. Our main character, Lele obviously has a lot of history and the plot allows us to see many facets of her personality. Due to the situation that the city is in, It was so difficult to trust anybody that we read about - I never knew quite who was on the right side of the city's Guardian 'laws'. The opposing groups were fascinating and it was interesting to see the politics of the enclave. The underground group, the Mall Rats who regularly venture into the Deadlands were particularly fascinating - they each had their own story and all had their own distinct personalities, which I loved.
Overall, Deadlands was a fantastic book which had me gripped from start to finish. It felt like an amalgamation of positive themes and ideas from several ideas whilst having its own unique story. I really, really enjoyed this and I will definitely be following the rest of the series. If you're a fan of young adult dystopian or paranormal (particularly zombies!), I'm sure that this book would appeal to you - it would be ideal for fans of The Hunger Games. If you're looking for a great new voice in YA, you'll find it in Deadlands.