Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's the end of the world and I feel... uuurkkk...
Let me tell you something, my fine folks. I think I had more fun reading this book than I have for ANY apocalypse book. That's including the Stand, Lucifer's Hammer, or The Power. And perhaps a few others that I rank higher than the rest.
But let me be clear. I had the most fun with this. I'm not saying it has MORE to gloam onto than the Stand, but I had myself a few issues with the Stand. The whole moralistic good vs. evil, for example. And I had a bit of a rough time with some of the 70's sexism in Lucifer's Hammer.
Wanderers, however, is leagues above most of the current runs of epic dystopias. No, it's not a zombie apocalypse or a big meteorite spoiling everyone's day or the ultimate reversal of the sexes. It is, however, quite free of rampant female humiliation, gratuitous rape, and violence in general. This book is full of heart even while it DOES have a rather usual trope of religious nutters, white supremacists, and NRA hotheads. They're quite happy to be all opportunistic on humanity's ass.
What sets this above all the rest? Clever fundamental choices and trope inclusions, baby. Very strong science, too. And delightfully complex characters.
But for me? I love the pop culture references. Wendig is like, some kind of master with pop trivia and really sharp, maybe bloody, wit. His Miriam Black novels left me bloody with words. In Wanderers, he tones it down a LOT and he tames it for the sake of this story. So what that means is we'll be seeing some REALLY cool crap popping up subtly in the tiny spaces.
Like Fallout? Check. Like Matrix? Check. Like brilliantly chosen musical references, strange-ass details that HAVE to be memes that haven't happened yet, or setting choices that wind up being fantastic in-jokes for you modern pop-reference junkies? CHECK.
And in the end, I remained excited... exhilarated... throughout this read. Sometimes a book will sap my energy. Other times, rarely, a book will just pour it into me. This is one of those books. :)
Am I super happy to have read this? You betcha. :) :) I feel almost like I was watching the first season of Walking Dead the first time. Before it got all... you know. :)
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