> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Book Review: Deathlands--Cannibal Moon



Book Review: Deathlands--Cannibal Moon

By James Axler
An explanation of Deathlands to the uninitiated:

Deathlands is an ongoing series of books following the post-apocalyptic adventures of Ryan Cawdor and friends. Deathlands if a kind of pulp-sci-fi post-nuclear holocaust setting, with lots of post-apocalyptic/sci-fi staples thrown in for good measure. Mutants, cannibals, cryosleep, teleportation, and lots of guns, ammo, blood and guts. Ryan's group includes his mutant girl friend, Krysty, his son, Dean, the knife-slinging albino, Jak, Ryan's buddy, J.B. Dix (aka the Armorer), and travelers from the past, Mildred, a doctor awakened from cryosleep, and Doc, a gentleman from the 1800s. James Axler is the pen-name for the series, really written by several different authors. The series has stretched to dozens of books now, with no end in sight.

Got it? You can head over to JamesAxler.com for lots more info, book reviews for every Deathlands book out there.

I picked up my first Deathlands book on a road trip several years back; it was an exciting, hard-hitting adventure through a post-apocalyptic world. I've been a fan of the series since. They are fun, escapist fiction; the writing isn't always the greatest, the plots not the most mind-boggling, and the characters largely static. But they are action packed, end-of-the-world fun. I don't open up a Deathlands book expecting great literature, I open it up expecting a fun read. I enjoy them as such, and I rate them as such.

Warning: The Deathlands series is not for the sensitive. The books are R rated, with more violence and gore than you can shake a sharp stick at. The language is less-than clean, and the bad guys are cold and downright evil.

So, all that being said, onto the review:

Cannibal Moon opens with Mildred captured by cannibals and force-fed infected cannie brains! In Deathlands, cannibalism comes with a disease, which drives cannibals to consume more and more human flesh, and eventually die from the disease. Fearing that she's become infected with the cannie sickness, Mildred and the group head out to find a rumored cure for the cannie sickness in the swamps of Louisiana. The book moves from action sequence to action sequence, leading to a showdown at the cannie's fortress and the cannibal queen herself.

The book does rarely go more than a few pages without an action sequence, but there-in lies a problem. I found the battles with cannibals somewhat repetitive. The action sequences, gunfight after gunfight, ended up being largely forgettable. My favorite battle was the short cannie attack on the War Wag column the group falls in with. The cannibals are a dark, evil, and gorey foe to face, and by the end, I had tired of all the flesh eating and cannibalism. The cannies just weren't intensely interesting or provoking, though they were unusually well armed and equipped for the low-tech Deathlands setting.

I think that I might prefer the variety of foes found in other Deathlands novels; blackheart ed raiders, cruel sec men, mutant creatures and freakish animals, with cannibals thrown in for good measure.

Also, the book's main focus is on Mildred: the plot revolves around her possible infection with the cannie virus. I'm not a big Mildred fan, and in fact, I didn't much care if she did come down with the cannie virus. She's just bland and forgettable to me. The resolution at the end of the book left me scratching my head.

Addtionally, the book introduces two new minor characters, and save for Ryan, the rest of the group are largely ignored. Dean was nowhere to be found (I guess he's been kidnapped or something, but it was not mentioned, at all, in the book). My favorites, Jak and J.B. played a minor role. A new character, wielding paired .357 magnum Desert Eagles was introduced, and I found him a lot more interesting than Mildred. Anyone who is going to dual-wield Desert E's has got my respect.

Personally, I wouldn't mind it if Deathlands took a page from popular TV shows like Lost, 24, and Heroes, and killed off a few characters. Not the minor, side characters--we expect them to bite the dust in a few chapters--but a major character. I mean, it's Deathlands, where's the death? The group can't go through dozens of books, probably thousands of gunfights and battles, without any casualties. Kill off Mildred, Doc, maybe Krysty, and switch things up a bit! Would anyone really miss them? I wouldn't. Could they be replaced? Yep!

Alright, enough rambling! All in all, if you're looking for light-on-thinking/high-on-action post-apocalypse action, check out the Deathlands series. Is this the best Deathlands book to start on? No, probably not. If you're a Deathlands fan, though, this is a good read--not the best, but not a disappointment either. Unless you hate Mildred with a passion, you'll probably find something you like in Cannibal Moon.

Deathlands Rating: 2.5/5
Cannibal Moon on Amazon.