Wanderers by Chuck Wending #BookReview #BlogTour

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes an astonishing tapestry of humanity that Harlan Coben calls “a suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic.”
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 her 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.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Wanderers by Chuck Wendig today. Huge thanks to the author, Rebellion Publishing and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel. 

Picking up an 800 page novel is always a little daunting and not just for the forthcoming arm workout. I have no qualms about giving up on a book but like to give it a decent chance to win me over first. Within the first few pages of Wanderers I knew there was never going to be any question of me not finishing it but what I didn’t expect was for how it would take over my life for a few days. Reading is my drug of choice, of course and Chuck Wendig’s epic novel is about as addictive as they come. I read into the wee small hours, I woke early to continue where I left off after sleep eventually won out, I read in the kitchen when I was cooking dinner, in the garden and the car. I even took it to the cinema and read it during the trailers.
Wanderers starts small with the story of a seventeen-year-old girl, Shana who lives with her father and younger sister, Nessa on a small farm in Pennsylvania. She wakes one morning to discover Nessa is sleepwalking. The old advice was always to never wake a sleepwalker but here she finds it impossible to rouse the girl. She also soon realises it’s highly dangerous to try and impede her progress as she just keeps walking, seemingly oblivious to everything. Shana decides the only thing she can do it to go with Nessa for however long it takes before she wakes up - if she ever wakes, that is. Before long they are joined by other walkers and their family members who become known as shepherds and accompany them mile after mile determined to protect them as best they can after a bloody tragedy underlines exactly how vulnerable they are to outside interference.
Shana’s story gradually becomes interwoven with the stories of other people whose lives are somehow touched by the strange phenomenon. People like Dr Benji Ray, a disgraced scientist who once worked for the CDC until his morals led him to make a brave and foolish decision. Despite - or perhaps because of -  his past, he is recruited to the team of investigators desperately trying to figure out what has caused this mass event as the flock increases daily. He is joined by faces from his past; Martin, Cassie and Robert - some of whom are more ready to forgive him than others; and new people, most notably Sadie and Arav. Then there’s Pete, an ageing rock star with a secret, Matthew, an evangelical pastor and Marcy, a former cop who was invalided out of the job after suffering a horrific head injury. 
Each of their stories is allowed to form and develop, each person given life until they become more than characters on a page. I loved them, hated them, feared for them and wept with them. We see some of their stories through to the end - wherever and however that may be but others leave and just as with life, we are left wondering what happened to them and hoping for the best. And through it all are the issues facing us today - politics, climate change, faith, terrorism, racism, homophobia, artificial intelligence, the spread of fake news and real diseases. For just as some people are driven to help, some are motivated by fear or anger, or by a desire to further their own agendas.
As the novel progresses and more is revealed about the truth behind the walkers’ apparently interminable odyssey across America, events become ever more chaotic, harrowing and absolutely terrifying. A global pandemic, white supremacy resurgent and Black Swan, a sinister AI device originally designed to predict disease outbreaks but which may hold the key to how and if the human race is to survive means Wanderers is chillingly believable even at its most incredible.
To say I loved Wanderers is an understatement; Chuck Wendig has written a novel which is huge - both in length and scope - and yet still intensely focused on the matters which concern us individually and collectively. This magnificent, cinematic time-stealer of a book deserves all the praise coming its way. 

Wanderers is published in the UK by Solaris, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing. Purchasing links can be found here or support independent bookstores by buying through Hive.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of terribleminds.com
Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, The Complete Double Dead, Zer0es and Invasive, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and he served as the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds, and books about writing such as Damn Fine Story. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.