In their darkest moments, few citizens of the twentieth century could have envisioned the firestorm that plunged the world into the chaos of a nuke-altered reality. Twenty-second-century America may not be much worth fighting for, but Ryan Cawdor and his warrior survivalists push on, clinging to the deep wellspring of human hope that somewhere in the raw, violent frontier of a rad-blasted tomorrow is someplace they can call home.
Weary, sick and hungry, the group barely survives a trek through the torturous deserts of the Southwest which leads into the bayous of what was once Louisiana, a place one of their own first called home. The eerie, lifeless silence of the swamps warns of trouble ahead. But nothing can prepare them for Dr. Jean, a madman who has harnessed pre-Dark tech to create an army of crazed zombies marching toward his own twisted vision of Deathlands domination.
After a solid story in Labrynth, Andy Boot gives us another piece o sludge with the Deathlands name on it.
It starts of horribly and continues throughout.
Where to begin.. oh yes, let's start with Jubilee, the pregnant teenage girl at the end of Labyrinth. Now mind you, Ryan does say that she will join them until they can find a good family and leave her there, so i was expecting that to maybe take place in the next book.
No, nada, nothing. NO MENTION what so ever. She's not even WITH them when they awake from the jump at the beginning of the book! How about a wee bit of back story would that be to much to ask?
The next sticking point I have is when they are fighting the swampies. How can Mildred get hit by a knock out dart, then less then a page later get up and try and take out the bad guys, when later on the "leader" tells them that the darts have a THREE HOUR knock out period? EDITING! Judas H Priest!
The rest of the story just seems to plod along and a seems thrown together, like the author put it together with say 20 minutes left until the deadline. It's really hard to have it flow from beginning to end when it seems like you're pulling it out of your arse!
Some other observations..
Since when does Ryan say "Frosty?"
The "baron" supposedly knows Jak, but Jak doesn't know him.
There's a traitor in the "resistance".
The Baron's "Old Tech" is a TV studio! ooooh scary!
The baron is a drug lord with a powerful hypnotic -yay.
The "zombies" under Jean's control go into withdrawals and go crazy - yawn.
Jak feels guilty about "leaving" his "people" again so he decides to stay. No worries though, after it's all said and done, he supposedly says that it really isn't his home and he's got to leave again. GROAN.
There were a few things (and I'm really thinking hard here of what I liked)
At least the author remembered that the redoubt by West Llowellton was a desert. Of course he doesn't mention what happened to cause it to become a desert, but it's not totally catastrophic, it did devastate some of the swamps, but not all.
The story revolved around Jak, which hasn't happened for a while and he sort of gets the girl.
There was even a mention of Dean!
Seriously, I would rather re-read Black Harvest or the ramblings of what is Ritual Chill then this one!
I need a drink, and maybe sit down and plan out a Deathlands story that doesn't suck as much as this did!
I admit that unlike the rest of reviewers, I didn't find Strontium Swamp to be a total stinker, or the worst in the series. Maybe my expectations regarding the newer Deathlands titles have just shriveled over the last couple years? Although that's a damn depressing thought, at least it might explain some things--like maybe why I bothered to finish this book--which isn't the case with 2 or 3 other recent titles in the series. Was it just me, or did anyone else feel like they were reading parts of 3 or 4 older titles that had been randomly cut & pasted together?
Other reviewers have done a fine job pointing out the numerous annoying and inexcusable flaws within this book. So I'll limit myself to just one large problem that is starting to fatally haunt this series, and really bug the hell out of me. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! If this was the first Deathlands I ever read, it would also be the last. There was not a single character in this novel i found the least bit interesting, that I will remember anything about next week, or that I could bring myself to give a rat's ass about.
And I have to include the usual crew, which should be impossible at this point in the series. Hell, there's been thousands of pages written about these people. Any author has all the raw background material they could possibly need to recreate six compelling main characters. Yet this group all acted like badly-cloned, listless replicas of the usual crew. They barely seemed capable of gathering the energy to take out the Baron (whose name I've already forgotten) or even rescue Jak. And for all Krysty or Mildred contributed to this tale, they might as well have taken a vacation week.
No one who buys a Deathlands title is expecting Shakespeare, and a few pages of background material along with some tedious repetition is unavoidable, but the publishers are killing off this series with crap like Strontium Swamp.