Verdict: Despite some flaws, DEVASTATED LANDS is a thrilling story set in the unforgiving landscape, as well as a personal drama of Shane Cooper, who is torn between his purely selfish need for survival and equally strong need to help others.
End-of-the-world fiction often revolves around man-made catastrophes, with nuclear wars and environmental disasters being favorites of sci-fi writers everywhere. DEVASTATED LANDS by Bruce W. Perry starts with a more interesting premise – a huge eruption of Mount Rainier in the state of Washington. As volcano’s lahar – an unstoppable debris flow made of mud, rocks, and water – flows down the mountain’s slopes, it picks up everything in its path and turns the surrounding valleys into a barren, alien landscape.
An experienced mountain guide, Shane Cooper survived the eruption by sheer luck. Now he searches for a way back to the Pacific coast where he hopes to find some semblance of civilization. On his way, Cooper picks up stragglers: a little girl, Amy; Amy’s dog Turk; and Mikaela Brand, a no-nonsense martial artist competitor. Together they navigate the apocalyptic landscape with very little food or water.
To further complicate the matter, there’s also a vicious gang of marauders. It’s these crude, cartoonish villains, led by insane, charismatic criminal Gladys, which represent the weakest point of DEVASTATED LANDS. Not only did these street thugs survive the volcano’s eruption but, in mere two weeks, built their own little society straight out of a Mad Max movie. It’s here that the writing seems most stilted, with villains using strange insults like “poindexter” and “care-giver nanny-puss”.
DEVASTATED LANDS shines whenever it focuses on the survival of its protagonists. This is a thrilling story set in the unforgiving landscape, as well as a personal drama of Shane Cooper, who is torn between his purely selfish need for survival and equally strong need to help others.
DEVASTATED LANDS isn’t perfect by any means. Its writing could have used an additional polish by the editor. Chapter breaks sometimes feel arbitrary. Also, a map of the area traversed by Cooper, Amy, Mikaela and others throughout the story would have made for a great addition to the novel. But these are mostly minor quibbles. In DEVASTATED LANDS Bruce W. Perry creates an entertaining post-apocalyptic adventure pitting man versus nature.
~Danijel Striga for IndieReader