The Wanderers: A Novel

Posted on 04/22/2020 in misc

Like everybody else, the pandemic is "top of mind" 24 x 7 for me. I'm writing to help myself not internalize all of it. You can find other posts in the series at https://odonnellweb.com/pelican/tag/coronavirus.html

The Wanderers:A Novel Review

I finished Chuck Wendig’s 800-page opus Wanderers: A Novel last night. It didn’t feel like an 800-page book, which is a testament to the quality and depth of the story he told. If you’ve ever read The Stand this is sort of in the same vein, a far-reaching epic about the end of civilization brought on by a pathogen.

In Wanderers, Wendig tries to pull together several popular dystopian tropes into one story.

  • Zombies
  • A pathogen that will wipe out humanity
  • A white nationalist takeover of America
  • Artificial Intelligence run amok

It works, kind of. The book is a bit of a slow burn for the first half. Starting with one teenage girl, people with no apparent connection start walking in a group to the west, 24 hours a day. They never sleep, they never eat, they never poop. They are ambivalent zombies, intent only on walking west, picking up a few new zombies every day.

The action picks up dramatically in the 2nd half and I found myself staying up late the final two nights of reading. Along the way we meet a mild-mannered Christian pastor, and an Indiana redneck who is not quite as benign as he seems. This was my least favorite part of the book. The author is on Twitter, so I know he is a liberal, as am I. But his conservative characters are caricatures and his apparent contempt for those folks comes through loud and clear in the book. It detracted from the story for me and I almost gave up on it in the middle when these characters were dominating the page. Luckily this is the point where we start to learn what the hell is actually going on and the pace of the story picks up dramatically and stays fast paced all the way to what is, IMO, a bit of a letdown of an ending.

Would I recommend reading the book? Maybe? I’m not sorry I read it. Overall, I enjoyed the book, even with the major issue that I mentioned above. But 800 pages is one hell of a commitment, and I’m not going to push that level of commitment on anybody.