My favorite book I took on for #reading2019 was Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers. So with that said, here is my used car salesmen pitch for Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers: A Novel:
- Do you like Family Drama? This book has it!
- Do you like zombie adjacent creatures? This book has it!
- Do you like mysteries? This book has it!
- Do you like the questioning of technology? This book has it!
- Do you like exploring the downfall of humanity? This book has it!
- Do you like philosophical questions explored in a fun way? This book has it!
If this interests you, stop reading my article and go read Wanderers: A Novel by Chuck Wendig. If you have read it, continue on, if not beware, spoilers ahead.
Wanderers is quite a book, filled with many mysteries. Within the first 100 or so pages we are introduced to quite a bit of questions. What does a meteor have to do with anything that’s going on? Why are people becoming invincible and walking around like brain dead zombies who don’t want to eat flesh? What is Black Swan and what does it know? How are all the characters connected? I am happy to say the book answers all of these, with some great character development and twist and turns along the way, but does leave you thinking along the way. By the end of the book I was asking questions that I still think about today.
Overall this book is about humanity and how we deal with shit with a good dose of sci fi, social commentary and character building. I would say if you are not into politics this may not be the book for you, as it does have a fair share of politics in it and in its own way is a response to Donald Trump becoming president. It uses the outbreak to focus on humans, our flaws and our strengths and tackle the issues that are facing America today. It really takes a look into white supremacy and the conditions that lead to the Trump Presidency and how a major issue in America could exacerbate the issues that are hiding on the near fringes of American society. It tackles these items very well, even intervening with in world pop culture at the beginning of each chapter until the shit really hits the fan with the outbreak.
One of the things Chuck does extremely well in this book is character development. He creates characters you can truly love and characters that you can truly hate. He focuses on the character’s motivations to really give the reader understanding to their actions even if you may hate what they are doing. My favorite character is most likely the one I hated the most, the reverend Matthew. His character shows what is wrong in a lot of people and how many people can be corrupted by potential power, he learns a very hard set of lessons I will not spoil though. His character also explores how families can fall apart, how in this day and age, families are venerable. There are great characters throughout the book and I loved all of the characters even if I loved them because I hated them and Chuck wrote characters that caused me such a strong emotional reaction.
One of the other great things in this book was the mysteries. From trying to find out what the Wanderers were, to the virus outbreak and what would become of humanity. The virus is a slow burn that is introduced early in the book but speeds up very fast and becomes a key point in the book. The Wanderers, aka the Zombies of the book, are the other Key mystery. There are a lot of questions about what they are, why they explode when you try to stop them, why they exist and how exactly one becomes a WandererOne reason I couldn’t put down the book is I was driven by these mysteries to find the answers. All of them delivered and gave way to the greatest mystery of all, what exactly is Black Swan?
The final item I want to touch on, the Al, Black Swan. Beware, major book ending spoilers ahead. Black Swan is most likely the most interesting thing in the whole book, a mysterious Al who seems to be guiding our characters and events forward, sometimes as just a helper, sometimes as something more. This AI is plugged into the web, can talk to its future self and seems capable of more than it is letting on. It turns out in the end it is responsible for everything that happens in the book outside of a few events and Black Swan is humanities new god? Chuck does a great job of tackling AI and how it may protect humans if that was its main task, even if protecting humans meant killing most of us off. In the end Wanderers faces a question about religion and if it serves a purpose for humans. Black Swan ends up a god, with a flock of loyal followers, one who questions its motives and actions and even a holy child. I’m not sure if Mr. Wendig was attempting to end the book on such a strong philosophical question, but he did, and it is one I have not fully been able to stop thinking about. So if you are locked up due to Covd-19, do yourself a favor, fuel that existential dread and read Wanderers.