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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Taut, Exciting Dystopian/Survival Story an Engrossing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Three years ago, amidst chaos created by climate change and natural disasters, the United States drained Alaska of oil, then withdrew statehood to the cut-off land.  Residents who desired to leave were removed to Maine.  Those who refused were left to fend for themselves in the newly-designated "Sacrifice Area."  

Travis' prepper father saw no reason to flee Alaska then, but he does now.  With almost no food left and none to be found in the wild, his family is in danger of starving—and that's if they don't get killed first by the bands of hungry, half-feral people who roam the land, ready to kill for a can of soup.  Their trek toward the Arctic ends too soon, leaving 17-year-old Travis and Jess, his 10-year-old sister, on their own.  Determined to travel the 300+ miles to Anchorage, the pair sets out across the lonely wasteland.  Along the way, they encounter dangers of every kind, from wild beasts to treacherous weather to impossible roadblocks to people who will help them to those who would just as soon eat them.  With everything against them, can they make it all the way to Anchorage?  What will they find if they get there?  Will they ever be able to feel safe and at peace again?

The Wild Lands by Paul Greci is a taut, tense story that combines action/adventure, survival, and dystopian themes to create an exciting tale that should appeal to even reluctant readers.  Greci is an experienced outdoorsman, which shows as he details the inventive methods Travis' family uses to survive in a harsh, unyielding environment.  He's also a long-time Alaskan, which explains the vivid way he describes the land.  The setting is so atmospheric that I could see, hear, and smell it as well as feel the desperation cloying the air.  The characters are interesting, the prose strong, and the plot action-packed.  True, there's nothing really fresh or original about the story.  It's also a bit far-fetched, as the kids deal with literally every kind of survival/dystopian scenario there is on their journey.  Still, though, it's a pulse-pounding thriller that I enjoyed.  The ending is infuriating, yes, but also satisfying enough.  I'm just hoping Greci has a sequel in the works.

(Readalikes:  I'm trying to think of other novels that combine wilderness survival and dystopian elements, but no specific titles are coming to mind.  Ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, mild innuendo, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Wild Lands from the generous folks at Macmillan for the purpose of Cybils Award judging.  Thank you!


  1. This is another one I'm really looking forward to reading. It reminds me a little of The Wolves of Winter...which is a dystopian novel also set in Alaska. :)

    1. You're right - great comparison to THE WOLVES OF WINTER. I've read that one, but it didn't come to mind for some reason. #Ireadtoomanybooks #mymemorycantkeepup

  2. Dystopia and survival? Good combination. Alaska is a great setting for such a book.

    1. Right? There are so many things that could go wrong in a place like Alaska. It's the perfect setting for a dystopian/survival novel.


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