Deadlands by Lily Herne

Deadlands is a YA book set in South Africa, somewhere in the near future. Most of Cape Town is now infested with zombies, and those unaffected live in enclaves, protected by the mysterious Guardians.

It starts with Lele attending the funeral of her grandmother, which takes a unusual turn when the Guardians arrive to take the body out to the Deadlands, where she will turned into a zombie by the existing ones. In addition, a lottery is held yearly, when teenagers are chosen to be taken by the Guardians, although no one knows why.

Lele now has to go and live with her father and step-mother, and start attending a new school, all of which provides some of the usual YA storylines. As the story develops she also has to deal with her attraction to two different boys. It’s interesting to see these usual YA themes wrapped up in a dystopian zombie story, but it works well.

When Lele is chosen by the lottery, she decides to escape, and find her way through the Deadlands – during this time she makes some new friends who teach her how to fight the zombies, and show her that there is a different way. Meanwhile things are changing within the enclaves, and she has to decide which path is the right one.

The level of threat is just right from the zombies – whilst it’s always there, it’s not too scary or gory for teen readers. As an older reader, I found it a pleasant change from other zombie books I’ve recently been reading, and I found myself captured by the story. The relationship aspect is well done, and isn’t too overpowering, and there are some interesting characters to explore. Lele’s story continues in Death of a Saint later this year, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Deadlands is published by Much-In-Little, April 2013

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