Title: Deadlands
Author: Lily Herne

Series: Mall Rats

Who’s it aimed at? Teens.
What’s it about? The book is set 10 years on from the fallout of the Zombie Apocalypse in South Africa. It’s told from the point of view of Lele de la Fontein, who, along with her brother Jobe is being forced to move back to the city enclave to live with her father and her stepmother. But the Rotters (zombies) are only a hairs-breadth away from the city walls in the Deadlands, kept at bay only by the mysterious Guardians, who demand a high price for protecting the human survivors.

What’s good? The world building is phenomenal, Lily Herne has created a beautifully devastated world  – well, I say world, but really there’s no mention of the world beyond Cape Town. But you don’t need to know anything further (although I seriously hope that there’s hints of what happens beyond in the later books!) because there’s such life within the pages – zombies aside.
Lele is a great protagonist with some altogether not surprising anger issues, and the characters she meets are equally as rich and wonderful (I especially liked Ginger, but then it’s hard not to like him). Deadlands is very much focused on the people rather than the monsters and its all the more intriguing for it.
This is not to say the Zombies are sidelined. In Deadlands the zombies are referred to as ‘Rotters’, only the aging Rotters act like the Zombies of the old films: moving slowly, dragging their feet. New Rotters – ‘Hatchlings’ – move at incredible speeds, drawn inexorably to feed. They moan outside the city walls, separated from those they want to feed on, a constant noisy backdrop to the city. Only the Guardians can control them…
What’s bad? Nothing that sticks out as awful.
The Verdict? I normally hate Zombie stories. No, hate isn’t strong enough, I absolutely loathe Zombie stories for reasons not entirely clear even to me. But this? This I loved. It’s not a story that’s all shock and no substance. In fact, though the Guardians are deeply unsettling and the Rotters (especially newly “hatched” ones) are frightening… well, I won’t spoil it 😉 but trust me, it’s good.
If you loved The Hunger Games you’ll love this. On the other hand if you hate dystopias, characters with depth and zombies give this a miss.
Although saying that, if you hate Zombies, still give this a chance. It’s worth it.


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