“If King had written a sequel to The Stand, it might look something like this monumental epic of a story.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of Bones
“As great as Wanderers was, Wayward is better.”—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones
Five years ago, ordinary Americans fell under the grip of a strange new malady that caused them to sleepwalk across the country to a destination only they knew. They were followed on their quest by the shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.
Their secret destination: Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of civilization. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was only the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world—and the birth of a new one.
The survivors, sleepwalkers and shepherds alike, have a dream of rebuilding human society. Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead the town; Marcy, the former police officer who wants only to look after the people she loves; and Shana, the teenage girl who became the first shepherd—and an unlikely hero whose courage will be needed again.
Because the people of Ouray are not the only survivors, and the world they are building is fragile. The forces of cruelty and brutality are amassing under the leadership of self-proclaimed president Ed Creel. And in the very heart of Ouray, the most powerful survivor of all is plotting its own vision for the new world: Black Swan, the A.I. who imagined the apocalypse.
Against these threats, Benji, Marcy, Shana, and the rest have only one hope: one another. Because the only way to survive the end of the world is together.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Wayward by Chuck Wendig is the epic conclusion to Wanderers (2019). This is a post-apocalyptic dystopian story that takes a hard look at many relevant issues today, such as the environment, politics, and disease, not to mention the power of artificial intelligence programs.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I read the first book back in 2019, so I know enough to know that I have no idea what to expect in this conclusion to that story.
Actual Reading Experience:
Wow! Just wow! What a fantastic conclusion to such an impactful story. This isn’t a standalone, or at least I would not recommend it as a standalone because I couldn’t even imagine understanding it without knowledge of the first book’s events. But, I have to say, as much as I thought the first book was outstanding, this one may have shown just a little brighter.
This post-apocalyptic dystopian story hits most of the problem areas in society today. And it does so in a manner that I will not forget soon. I’m making my alternative fuel vehicle right after finishing this review. Okay, maybe not, but only because I don’t know where to start.
The writing pulls you in and gives you a world that you will both recognize and be disturbed by that recognition. It does so by providing so many details that you can’t help but experience it in an entirely sensory way. I also love how imaginative yet realistic it is. This got me, and I am sure it will get other readers too.
There are twists and turns I could have never seen coming and absolutely adored. By the last 25%, there were so many twists that I sped through each page, unable to wait to find out what would happen. It felt as if for us to have any hope, then the characters in this story needed to be able to succeed and show us how it’s done.
There were little niggles, that, oddly enough, had to do with specifics or lack thereof. Mostly it had to do with an algae farm in, I believe it was, Louisiana. The uses they found for algae were truly outstanding, but I wanted to know a little more about how it was done, which I didn’t see. Not a significant amount of detail because I wouldn’t understand any of it, but more of an acknowledgment of the changes that would have had to be made.
Shana is the main character. She is young, but she is also strong, independent, and determined. When her sister, Nessie, comes down with the sleepwalking malady in Wanderers (Book 1) – she braves everything to keep her safe on her journey from Pennsylvania to Colorado. She also has the same doggedness in this story when it becomes necessary to stop Black Swan.
Benji, like Shana, is a Shepherd to the sleepwalking people. He is a natural-born leader who prefers talk over violence, but he will use violence if necessary. He is a thinker and a planner.
Marcy is the sheriff and law enforcer for Ouray. She is a by-the-letter-of-the-law person who is tough yet fair and respected by the community.
Narration & Pacing:
The narration is mainly third-person omniscient, and switches focus between Shana and Benji, the occupants of Ouray, and Ed Creel – the self-proclaimed president of the US. A broad scope is needed to successfully take in all the ideas, themes, and details in this story, so this narration works perfectly.
The pacing is generally more of a medium pace, with some parts being quite fast, especially as you get closer to the end, and other parts being a bit slow because of its heavy use of exposition. Since it’s a long book with eight hundred pages, it’s best to take your time and soak in all the details rather than try to speed your way to the end. It is worth every minute if you take your time reading this one.
The setting is the US in 2025 (mostly) though it does go back in time for a chapter here and there to explain something about a character’s past. In this version of the US, a pandemic ran its course. Something new has taken hold of chosen citizens that has made them sleepwalk to Ouray, Colorado, where they are trying to rebuild human society led by an AI called Black Swan.
Read if you like:
- Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian stories
- Long Books You Can Savor
- Strong, Diverse Characters
- Unexpected Twists and Turns
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