Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman, Xe Sands
Series: Wanderers #1
Published by Penguin Audio on July 9, 2019
Length: 32 hours, 22 minutes
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Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
Wanderers is the kind of dystopian story I love but it came out at the beginning of the COVID pandemic so I wasn’t sure about reading it then. I’m glad I finally read it now and can move forward with the sequel Wayward.
The story is set primarily in the United States. The characters are diverse. There is a lot of political violence and racism which are similar to things we see in our real world. We also have the scientists who are dealing with the situation and some technical information which I always find interesting.
A key factor in the study for the scientists is Black Swan, an AI, who is talking to them about their questions and ideas on how to handle issues. The primary scientist who helped develop Black Swan is Sadie, who brings in Benji. They work with the CDC and other groups to try to understand the walkers, and ultimately protect them and the “shepherds” who follow the walkers. The walkers are not a pandemic and come to scientific attention before the pandemic.
I really liked some of these characters, and others not at all. I did enjoy seeing their growth as people and what they want in their lives, what really matters. Some of them had to make very hard choices, or suffer a lot to find their way. Wanderers is also the sort of story where you have many individuals and their stories, not knowing how or if they connect, as it all comes together.
I am not spoiling the story by talking about details or even some of the characters. I am glad I went in not knowing what to expect beyond the blurb. Wanderers is very complex with many settings, and a large number of characters. Many individuals and groups are trying to survive in a very bad situation.
Xe Sands is one of my favorite narrators. She provides a voice for the chapters from female points of view like Shana and Marcy. I enjoyed Dominic Hoffman who gives us chapters from Benji, Pete or Matthew’s perspectives. I thought they did very well with giving us different voices and the emotional tones. I was able to listen at my normal 1.5x speed.
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