Not as Wretched as the last book...
I just finished the July release of Deathlands Wretched Earth, and it was much better than the Palaces of Poop before it.
Which really wouldn't take much, actually.
Victor Milan returns to pen this latest DL adventure where 'rotties' are introduced to the DL universe. With the huge surge in zombie interest in recent years, ie books and movies, Milan must have thought to himself after seeing this genre growing: "Hmmm, this could be an interesting new threat for the world of Deathlands."
And, in my humble opinion, he was right. Overall, this book is edited and written better than Milan's last venture, Haven's Blight. But his writing style seems to've changed in the last couple of years. Although Wretched Earth was good, it was not great. Not like Milan's past books like Vengeance Trail and his own post-holocaust adventure series - The Guardians.
But Milan more than proves he knows these characters, their world, and at least tries to give fans an exciting romp. Milan is a better writer than Boot and Polatta, hands down. At least his books are readable, not laughable.
Wretched Earth begins with a small group of scavengers doing what they do in a damaged underground bunker. They come across a lab which carries bio-hazardous material, and thus unleash a plague upon the surface world that quickly spreads.
Ryan and the wayfarers are hired out as mercs, trying to survive on low food rations and bullets for their blasters. After battling a horde of rotties, they barely escape to a small ville in Kansas called Sweetwater Junction. This ville is torn in half by two factions, and the DL group splits up and work their own angles.
So the middle part of the book is chock full of this: introducing too many characters that kinda gave me the feeling of 'been there done that' before. It's OK, but not great.
The latter part of the book is of course when the rotties FINALLY catch up to the group and this ville, and the final battle takes place. Again, the outcome is no surprise, and the overall fighting sequences are good, but not over-the-top like writers like Alan Phillipson and Chuck Rogers have spoiled us with. I couldn't help but think how much bigger and better this could have been with one of them at the helm.
But Milan does a good job. He's written better in the past, but also this is better than his latter Outlanders books. Milan at least introduced something somewhat different with these new zombies, but I won't ruin it here. Suffice it to say, it leaves the reader knowing the DL group has a new bad guy threat for the future.
So, overall, Victor Milan gave this particular huge DL fan a good adventure, but not a great one. After reading over a 100 of these books after 26 years, I hope and expect bigger and better DL adventures like Phillipson, Rogers, and Helfers have delivered to us hardcore fans.
Milan is up again in the next DL book, titled Crimson Waters, and to me, it sounds like a much bigger and better adventure. I love when the group goes on exotic locales. I really love the synopsis of this upcoming book, and I hope Milan knocks it out of the ball park. The cover art is one of the better ones of recent covers, too.