Rating: 3 / 5
WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig was the August book pick for the Deep Dark Reads buddy read on Instagram. It also perfectly fit the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge prompt for a book involving a journey! I knew going into it that this was a big book, but I was still somehow unprepared for its massive size when it was delivered to my door. I had heard great reviews, so was eager to get started.
WANDERERS begins with Shana, a teen who awakes to find that her younger sister Nessie is sleepwalking. Shana can’t wake her sister up and when she tried to prevent her from continuing on her walk, Nessie begins to overheat. Shana alerts her father and then starts to follow Nessie on her walk. Soon others begin to join Nessie, all seemingly motivated to follow the same path.
An artificial intelligence known as Black Swan seems to be the first to pick up the fact that these sleepwalkers are something of significance and it indicates that Benji, a disgraced scientist let go from the CDC is the key to the answers. Soon, the CDC has more work than it can handle trying to explain this unexplainable phenomenon. The world reacts with fear, blaming everything from God to the Devil to man made terrorism. Politics get contentious and a hatred fueled militia gains power .
WANDERERS started strong for me – I really liked the mystery of what exactly was going on that caused these walkers to walk ceaselessly with no need for food or water or rest. I thought that the way the world’s reaction was portrayed was very realistic with politicians taking sides, demanding more from the people in power to take down the unknown potential dangers the walkers presented.
The book is told from multiple perspectives and this is something that can kind of make or break a book for me. In this case, I felt drawn into most of the narratives, but for most of the book I wasn’t compelled by one of the POVs. Matthew is a preacher with a small congregation who gets drawn into the drama and the hatred, calling out the walkers as the devil’s domain. I didn’t like him as a character and didn’t feel for him as things went down a bad path as he made a lot of bad decisions along the way.
This book has some definite trigger warnings for violence, including one rape scene which to my mind felt unneeded to the story line.
In the end, I think this book felt too long for what the story conveyed. That may be in part because I have had two large brick-sized books in my currently reading stack this month, but toward the end I was definitely needing to push myself to keep reading rather than set it aside for other things. Overall, I did enjoy this book and the storyline Chuck Wendig created, but I think I would have liked it more if it had been pared back a bit.