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They call it Snakeskin Road. An ever-changing network of highways, rivers, and forgotten trails, it’s used by profiteers of a grim new traffic in human cargo. The catastrophic climatic changes that transformed the Southeast into a vast, inhospitable desert have left its desperate inhabitants with no choice but...
They call it Snakeskin Road. An ever-changing network of highways, rivers, and forgotten trails, it’s used by profiteers of a grim new traffic in human cargo. The catastrophic climatic changes that transformed the Southeast into a vast, inhospitable desert have left its desperate inhabitants with no choice but indentured servitude. Jennifer Harrison is among those destined for the farms, mines, casinos, and brothels of the midwestern “Free Zones.” Carrying the unborn child of her deceased husband, Mathew, Jennifer hopes that in three years’ time she’ll be free to reach Chicago—and a world better than the one she is leaving.
Along with a thirteen-year-old refugee entrusted to her care, Jennifer begins a hazardous pilgrimage across a countryside of barricaded city-states, lawless camp towns, marauding gangs, and what’s left of a corrupt government. But nothing she faces is more dangerous than a man named Rosser—a ruthlessly opportunistic bounty hunter determined to bring her back to Birmingham. In a world where hope is always a mile ahead, Jennifer has one last chance before the road disappears forever.
Excerpted from Snakeskin Road by James Braziel Copyright © 2009 by James Braziel. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted July 2, 2009
In 2044 recently widowed Jennifer Harrison is pregnant and desperately needs to return to her hometown Chicago where her mom lives. Currently she is in the vast desert of what was once the southeastern United States; the entire region destroyed by a hole in the Ozone layer. However to become free she needs to escape Birmingham and become an indentured servant for three years in the Midwest.
She travels up the Snakeskin Road used by human traffickers. Her bus crashes and she becomes guardian of thirteen year old Mazy. As they struggle northward on the deadly trail, Rosser the ruthless bounty hunter pursues them as no one leaves Birmingham alive. In Illinois Jennifer is indentured to a brothel where she believes she can survive three years if Rosser is not a customer.
Mindful of his own work, BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES, James Braziel paints a dark, gloomy future landscape especially the expanding desert widening like a new Ice Age that makes Mad Max look like a still life. The story line is fast-paced because anything less means unburied death for those who dawdle. Jennifer is terrific as a heroine on the run with a teen to protect; but it is Rosser who steals the show as a futuristic Tom Loker before the Quaker revelation in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Although the too many regional idioms and southern dialect anchor the locale, it detracts from the post-apocalyptic view of the journey north on SNAKESKIN ROAD; a path with no conductors, only killing traffickers and desperate escaped slaves dare venture on this lethal "Underground Railroad".