Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.
Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her.
Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.
Postapocalyptic ranks as one of my favorite genres, and I’ve been wanting to read this author for a while. And behold that gorgeous cover!
In Delta’s world, water and food are scarce. The Wastes is barren and unforgiving with sweltering daily temperatures. Geomagnetic storms and dust storms are regular occurrences and can last for days. After her pack (the community of people she’s lived with for years) is taken, she sets out on a quest to find them. It’s not an easy journey, and the odds are nowhere close to being in her favor. For most of the book, nearly every decision she makes is based on saving her pack (which includes her mother) from the General. Anyone could understand her motive, but her pack is introduced briefly at the beginning of the story, and they have very little interaction with Delta. I never felt like I knew them, which made it difficult for me to care about them as much as she did.
Delta is clearly a survivor, but she’s so blinded by her need to find her pack she doesn’t see the consequences of her actions or the domino effect they could trigger. Luckily, she meets some characters along the way that help her see the broader picture and put things into perspective. By the of the story, she’s undergone a tremendous amount of growth and has a wonderful character arc.
There’s a jaw-dropping plot twist I doubt most readers will ever see coming – possibly a couple. One is such a gamechanger I wish more time had been spent on it. With Dustborn being a standalone, I think it could easily have been made into a duology to delve deeper into this significant development. I sure wouldn’t have minded reading another book set in this intricately crafted world.
Dustborn gives off some Mad Max and Waterworld vibes with a splash of Western, so if you’re a fan of those movies this could be the novel for you. It’s a dark, brutal adventure that hooked me from the beginning.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.