A dystopian, apocalyptic novel that comfortably occupies a space between horror and science fiction, Wanderers is full of social commentary that digs into everything from global warming to racial tension, while never preaching or bogging down the action-packed story ... Wendig is extremely political, but science is at the core of his story; the discussions his scientists have are based on real events, and that makes everything feel uncomfortably plausible ... covers a lot of terrain. Small personal narratives of survival, trauma, and loss fill its pages and serve as cohesive elements to hold the apocalypse together. But from time to time, Wendig delves into the most horrific aspects of a pandemic and offers chilling passages packed with poetic brutality that show readers what could happen to us at any moment ... engaging and entertaining. It's uncomfortable to read, but also a timely novel that demands a place in the spotlight. Wendig takes science, politics, horror, and science fiction and blended them into an outstanding story about the human spirit in times of turmoil, claiming a spot on the list of must-read apocalyptic novels while doing so.
[Wendig's] ability to juggle so many fully realized characters is impressive, but even more so is the astonishing power Wanderers commands in conveying what it would actually feel like if this happened in the America we live in now, complicated by deep ideological divides, disinformation and the constant chatter of social media. All of these elements work together, often in surprising ways, to create a sense of terrifying plausibility and compelling verisimilitude. The true success of Wanderers, though, is not just in its ability to show us the grim scenarios that could play out across a divided nation; it’s in its heart. Whether he’s writing about rage or faith or the faintest glimmer of light, Wendig brings a sincerity and emotional weight to his prose. That’s why the scariest parts of Wanderers work, but it’s also why the most hopeful ones do, too.
In the great Chuck Wendig tradition, Wanderers doesn’t just settle for a plot twist or two. He plot twists the plot twist then plot twists the plot twist’s plot twist. Reading his books is like standing super close to a painting and seeing only the smudges of paint then taking a step back to see those brushstrokes form a flower. Step back again and now you see the flower is in a vase. Another step back and the vase is in a room. One more step and the room is in a house and the house is on fucking fire and there’s blood everywhere and people are running and screaming. Wendig is a master at turning the screw and twisting the knife past what most authors would dare but not so much that he jumps the shark (metaphors!). It takes serious skill to ramp up tension without letting it overwhelm the story, yet Wendig makes it look easy ... If, after all my lavish and effusive praise, you still aren’t convinced if you should read Wanderers, let me leave you with this: the book is 800 pages and I read it in two sittings. I forgot to eat. Twice. I sat on the couch enraptured by the story. It’s that good. No, it’s that incredible.
Comparisons between this book and Stephen King’s The Stand are, unfortunately, unavoidable ... Wendig perhaps bites off more than he can chew, even in a book of such length, and the early chapters drag their feet. However, there is mordant humour and real passion and engagement here. This is the way the world ends: a somnambulistic shamble towards oblivion.
... brilliant and thrilling ... a lean, mean, story machine, the sort of novel one devours in a single, large bite. Weighing in at about 800 pages, the pacing rarely flags, propelled not just by the events but by Wendig’s skilled shifting between a gallery of well-drawn, integral characters ... While Wendig populates the novel’s core richly, it is equally delightful around the margins, with an at-times vicious wit and sense of satire ... a book resolutely, powerfully of its time, and it is this sense of urgency and verisimilitude that places it firmly on the shelf of epidemic classics including Stephen King’s The Stand, Justin Cronin’s The Passage, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
Wanderers is an epic tour-de-force that invites comparison to Stephen King’s The Stand and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. It is quite simply the novel Chuck Wendig was born to write ... Wanderers covers a vast geographic distance, following the sleepwalkers across the country. Even more vast are the stakes, which Wendig builds masterfully through his cast of characters ... While Wanderers weighs in at just shy of 800 pages, it’s a journey well-worth taking and one readers won’t soon forget.
Wanderer is a few things: a tense mystery; an Outbreak-style medical thriller; a sprawling, Stephen King-esque epic. But mostly it’s a book about America right now—and much like America right now, it’s a potent blend of fear, confusion, and guarded, fragile hope. It’s also a book that has a lot to say, so it’s a good thing Wendig is sharp and funny, with a live-wire imagination that sparks with his singular voice. Few writers are better at quick character sketches...and even fewer can match his shocks of horrorshow violence... And, of course, there’s his near-future, too-familiar America ...'any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental,' reads that edition notice. It’s a lie, and Wanderers is all the better for it.
Wanderers is the first novel of [Wendig's] I’ve read. It won’t be the last ... his isn’t just a post-apocalyptic story: it’s a pre-, peri-, and post-apocalyptic novel, viewed through the eyes of multiple viewpoint characters who have lots of room to strive and suffer across a generous and sprawling page count. The Wanderers holds up just fine.
... an instant classic ... Wanderers is also one of the timeliest books I have ever read, it speaks so powerfully, elegantly, and crassly (in an elegant way) to the current zeitgeist. The fractured political ideologies of the U.S., of our world, really are on full display here and come across as all the more potent because Wendig has a fantastic way of imbuing his characters with believability ... The book is just smart through and through ... an immediate Modern Masterpiece of the genre, and [it] will probably be my favorite 2019 novel, and a book I will hold very high in my pantheon for years to come.
... a lengthy tome that captures you from the very beginning and keeps you hooked to the very end, in the style of Justin Cronin’s The Passage perhaps mixed with Stephen King’s novella The Long Walk ... engrossing and compelling and just a delight to read with its large cast and complex and interesting characters. While there is an unnecessary rape scene, fans of Stephen King will delight in this book.
... a lengthy epic that spans sci-fi, pandemic and thriller to deliver a heady apocalypse story crafted all too pitch perfectly for our present moment ... The central gem of this novel is its eerie prescience ... almost sickeningly plausible, often uncannily familiar and truly terrifying ... The other strength lies in how author Chuck Wendig can build a story. It’s terrifically well-paced for a novel of its size. I was engaged throughout almost all of the 800 pages and invested in most of the vivid characters. Wendig builds in twist after twist, each one well-planted yet surprising, expanding the world of the story outward. He grapples with faith and self, bias and identity, tech, morality and hope ... The violence is almost all purposeful and suits the tone. It is the apocalypse, after all. However, I felt that the assault and its circumstances, while gruesomely plausible, was gratuitous ... I also wished that with such a varied cast and tone, there had been more queer characters ... Still, it’s Chuck Wendig, so there’s humor here, amidst the frightening prescience and apocalypse of it all, along with joy and love.
This is a sprawling work and, though some scenes are stronger than others, it’s to Wendig’s credit that the reader’s attention never drifts, even as disparate plotlines unfurl and medicine and technology are added to the mix. Though there is plenty of technical content, the novel never loses contact with the human and allows its characters plenty of space to build family and romantic relationships. An imaginative and absorbing work of speculative fiction that’s sure to please genre fans.
Wendig writes characters that are relate-able, realistic (often fatalistic) and full of life ... confident and clever writing ... rife with the author's dark humour and fluid prose ... powerful ... An immersive, clever book and one of the best examples of apocalyptic fiction.
Wendig...wrestles with a magnum opus that grapples with culture, science, faith, and our collective anxiety while delivering an epic equal to Steven King’s The Stand ... Parsing the plot isn’t really critical—Wendig has stretched his considerable talents beyond the hyperkinetic horror that is his wheelhouse to deliver a story about survival that’s not just about you and me, but all of us, together. Wendig is clearly wrestling with some of the demons of our time, resulting in a story that is ambitious, bold, and worthy of attention.
Wendig...pulls no punches in this blockbuster apocalyptic novel, which confronts some of the darkest and most divisive aspects of present-day America with urgency, humanity, and hope ... Wendig challenges readers with twists and revelations that probe issues of faith and free will while crafting a fast-paced narrative with deeply real characters. His politics are unabashed...but not simplistic, and he tackles many moral questions while eschewing easy answers. This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand, easily rising above the many recent novels of pandemic and societal collapse.