cover image The Dead Lands

The Dead Lands

Benjamin Percy, read by Holter Graham. Hachette Audio, , unabridged, 12 CDs, 13.5 hrs., $35 ISBN 978-1-4789-5310-4

For this new adventure yarn, Percy reimagines the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition as a postapocalyptic journey from a futuristic and despotic city called the Sanctuary to a freer, moister Oregon. The novel’s dangerous journey is led by friends-from-childhood Meriwether Lewis and the much tougher Wilhelmina “Mina” Clark. Their Sacajawea-like guide is Gawea, a clairvoyant from outside the Sanctuary who is captured by those who rule the city. Along the way, they encounter albino bats, white bears, and militant women. These travails alternate with chapters about a young thief named Simon and his friend Ella, a museum attendant, who have been left behind to deal with the vicious mayor, Thomas, and Sheriff Slade, his sadistic minion. The youthful softness of reader Graham’s voice is surprisingly effective as counterpoint to the often violent nature of the material. It’s also particularly fitting when it comes to the bumbling Lewis, the bookish Ella, and, with just a small adjustment from Graham, the streetwise Simon. When needed, Graham is capable of adding strength and determination for Mina, sneering indifference and waspish anger for Thomas, and a betrayer’s guilt for Gawea, who has a secret reason for aiding Lewis and Clark. The voice Graham saves for Slade almost makes the hair rise up on the back of your neck. It’s a croak that’s guttural, raspy, and ripe with evil. A Grand Central hardcover. (Apr.)