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Wanderers

A Novel
Written by: Chuck Wendig
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman, Xe Sands
Length: 32 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 "a magnum opus...a story about survival that’s not just about you and me, but all of us, together" (Kirkus Reviews starred review).

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post • NPR • The Dallas Morning NewsKirkus ReviewsPublishers WeeklyLibrary Journal • Polygon

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 as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them - and an ultraviolent militia threatening 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.

Praise for Wanderers

"This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"A suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic." (Harlan Coben, number one New York Times best-selling author of Run Away)

"A true tour de force." (Erin Morgenstern, New York Times best-selling author of The Night Circus)

"A masterpiece with prose as sharp and heartbreaking as Station Eleven." (Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M)

"A magnum opus.... It reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand - but dare I say, this story is even better." (James Rollins, number one New York Times best-selling author of Crucible)

"An inventive, fierce, uncompromising, stay-up-way-past-bedtime masterwork." (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World)

"An American epic for these times." (Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year)

©2019 Chuck Wendig (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Wanderers is amazing - huge, current, both broad and intensely personal, blending the contemplative apocalypse of Station Eleven with the compulsive readability of the best thrillers." (Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series)

"Chuck Wendig’s latest, Wanderers, is a magnum opus of both storytelling and prose, epic in scope, yet told with an intimacy that hooked me from the first page. It reminded me of a technological version of Stephen King’s The Stand - but dare I say, this is even better: a postapocalyptic horror story that bares the best and worst of humanity in all its rawest forms. Don’t miss this tour de force. It left me awed." (James Rollins, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Crucible)

"With Wanderers, Chuck Wendig levels up - and when you consider the high level he was already writing at, that's saying something." (John Scalzi, New York Times best-selling author of The Consuming Fire)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Read .. Listen.

This was a terrific book. My first compliment is that I had to look at the authour's name because this sounded and started out like Stephen King.

The storyline is consistent and the characters engaging. There was enough back-story to not make me wonder. There was enough science (and written well too .. like .. hey .. is that true) to make it believable. My dis-belief was suspended. The story had a beginning .. bunch of middles and a firm ending. Sure I can see a sequel but if it never happens I am content with the summary and ending as a single book.

The narrators were fine and easy on the ears. In some books you get pops, squeaks and audio level changes and there was none of that nonsense here either.

Overall it was well worth my monthly credit for length, story line and narrators. If there was a clap-emoji I would put it here.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book!

Kept me engrossed through the whole thing; I was never sure where it was going, but always in a good way!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Intriguing, Exciting, Heartbreaking, Concurrently

This is my first Wendig novel, and all I can say is, "Holy crap!". What a ride. The novel is very long, but so well-written that it somehow never feels at all like a slog. Never feels like exposition for the sake thereof. Never feels like it is lecturing, leading or lying to the reader. And it left me breathless. Like I wanted to laugh and cry and scream all at the same time.

Wonderful narration team truly made the characters come alive, can't praise them enough.

Is the story a warning? An allegory for our seemingly horrible current world situation? Or simply a great yarn with fully fleshed-out characters that truly feel like human beings that one can relate to? I can't say for sure what was in Chuck's head, but what I CAN say is that this was one of the best stories I have ever experienced. And it IS an experience. 5 Stars aren't enough.

1 person found this helpful

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Truly great!!!

I’m getting near to the end and I couldn’t even wait to review it. The whole thing, from writing to the voice performances and did I mention the writing, are so fantastic. Ymmv, but for me this production was just truly great.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Really enjoyed this!

I've listened to close to 50 audiobooks on here and this is definitely near the top of the list for me. Lots will compare this to the Stand (which is also a favourite of mine) but too me they are very different books.

why I liked it so much:
- unlike lots of apocalyptic books I've read this one is set in 2019 which i found very engaging, especially since Wendig does
such a great job panting a picture of how todays world would react to a situation like this.
- great character development throughout. Like lots of my favourite books these main characters will stick with me for a long time
- The use of science in this book is not preachy and dull, I found it really cool the way everything was broken down and
explained in detail. These details you're almost craving as your trying to understand whats going on.
- The Narration was awesome

I could go on and on but at the end of the day this was a great listen! kept me extending the sleep timer over and over again haha, got less sleep some nights but it was worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Miss My Friends

I finished this a few days ago and I’m suffering some feeling of loss. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the characters. I will miss them.

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Solid Apocalyptica

Good story - good characters, and they weren’t too archetypal, which was nice :).

I wanted more grit, though - more collapse of society, more terror and panic.

There were some chilling bits - don’t get me wrong, I devoured this book in 2 weeks time (and it was chunky!). My husband misses me lol.

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Excellent example of plague literature.

A very modern take on the plague genre. If you like that kind of speculative fiction, this is a book you might not want to miss. This is the first work I have read by this author. Should he publish again, I will have to see what he offers, but I’m game. He tells a fine tale, rich with of the edge touchstones, characters you like or hate (and enjoy doing so) and a satisfying ending. The two narrators do a fine job bringing this story to life. I will be searching out other audiobooks narrated by either of them. Should you like dire, end of the world tales, this book will likely please you as it has pleased me.

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Loved this epic tale in the vein of The Stand.

What can I say, I love post apocalyptic fiction and I absolutely loved Wanderers. I was hooked from the moment Nessie walked out the front door and didn’t stop until the formidable conclusion. I have read many of Chuck Wendig’s books, but this one has really broken away from anything before it. His tone is reserved with some characters bursting forth with Chuck’s hilariously inventive, colourful language. But it doesn’t feel at all out of place and it isn’t a constant stream.

The story is paced beautifully and there was never a time where I hesitated to go back to it. I simply needed to know the why and the how of where it would all end up.

The audio book version has two different readers as it changes POVs. At first I was honestly put off by it, but both readers were so wonderful. Their accents and tone changes really helped me differentiate the characters, their moods and their personalities.

I have already recommended this book to several friends and it’s next on my partners read pile.

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Ugh--This is not like The Stand!

The Stand is top 3 of my favourite novels of all time, I own it in paperback and read it several times, I own it on Audible and have loved it dearly.

So let's be clear. This is NOT the Stand. This is drudgery. I have not finished this book, or even got past the 5th hour mark, because it's simply rambling, boring, drab, dull as dishwater, meandering, has awful 1 note characters, and while I AM a Liberal, large "L", give me a break. I don't need pablum spoon fed to me, because not all Democrats are white hats and not all republicans are black hats. "Nazi White Guy shit" is a direct quote from this book.
Seriously, if people are really singular notes like that, what a world.

Dammit-- at 5 hours+ it's just boring. Shana is a little shit. I don't care about these people, the sleepwalkers, Shepherds or any of part of this book. I'd really like my money back.

I loved Xe Sands narrative parts, but unfortunately she's Shana's voice and Shana is annoying. Mr. Hoffman's voice makes my eyes glaze over.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Allan T. Maule
  • 2019-07-29

Recommended, with some issues

Wanderers wants to be a 21st-century rendition of Stephen King's THE STAND: an epic story of American societal collapse and survival in the face of a deadly epidemic. Sometimes, it succeeds: the scope of the story and the twists of the plot are top-notch, and it's certainly a good page-turner. There's no question I enjoyed this book, and if you need an engaging and well-researched read about how our troubled world could collapse, WANDERERS is easy to recommend.

So why only 3 stars Overall and for Performance? Mostly to give potential readers some perspective in between the absolutely gushing reviews and the 1-star haters on this site. So now that I've recommended this read, here are the reason WANDERERS is not perfect and might not be for you:

1) LENGTH: This is a marathon of a book in audio or print, and I can't shake the feeling that it needed another 80–100 pages of squishing in order to keep the plot moving. Wendig knows how to tell a good story, so the pacing is generally pretty quick. Still, every character had several internal monologues where I was saying "OK, I get it," as I wished the author would move on to the rest of the action. This brings me to my next quibble...

2) CHARACTERS: As an epic-in-scope story, WANDERERS has a LOT of main characters who get to command narrative attention and tone in their chapters. Some of them you will like a lot. Others you will dislike, but understand. And still others will make you ask: "Wait, why are you doing that? What's motivating you to think that's a good idea?" I've read enough novels to know I don't have to love or identify with all the characters to enjoy the story, but WANDERERS at times had me puzzled why certain characters behaved the way they did. At worst, it feels like they're acting to advance the plot or just do oddball funny things to lighten the novel's tone rather than behaving in a believable manner. Perhaps this will not bother a less critical reader, but it irked me.

3) POLITICS: If you've ever peeked at Wendig's Twitter feed, you know he's an outspoken progressive—and personally, I agree with him on a ton of levels. My issue here is not that I disagree with his rather bleak view of modern conservatism, but rather that there's not a lot of nuance in how he depicts the American political divide in this book. Outspoken conservatives in this book inevitably end up on the side of monsters, and those sympathetic to such views get co-opted by the monsters and suffer horribly as a result. This won't be a problem for many liberal-minded readers, but where I got hung up was how essentially every character has internal monologues that stop the action to reflect on their political leanings at some point in the story. At worst, these moments feel like the author is signalling us "Don't worry, this character is a liberal" in order to get us to like them. Perhaps this is an inevitable land-mine for a novel set in 2019 America, but I feel like the author is going to irritate or distract a lot of readers by constantly bringing politics into a story that doesn't always require it.

4) PERFORMANCE: There's a pretty marked contrast in acting ability between the two narrators. While Dominic Hoffman has a pleasant voice, he cannot do a British or Irish accent to save his life. What's more, his narration can sometimes become stilted when switching between characters during dialog. Xe Sands is generally better across the board at reading the sections narrated by the female characters, as she empathizes with the characters with more skill. These VO issues don't cripple the book, but I wish the producers had gotten two 5-star voice actors instead of one great voice and one okay voice.

5) SEXUAL VIOLENCE: There's one episode of rape in this book that is both graphic and unexpected, as the character perpetuating it doesn't give much warning that he's capable of this kind of sexual violence in this moment. While it may or may not belong in the story, I found it shocking when it occurred and kept wondering if it was really necessary to the plot. Other readers may not arrive at the same judgment, but I note this here as a trigger warning for anyone who knows they'll be bothered by this kind of content.

CONCLUSION:
WANDERERS is a good, long book that I enjoyed. I felt bothered enough by its imperfections to write this review. I hope this helps you decide if this novel will be up your alley or not.

174 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ronald Citlau
  • 2019-07-12

A worthy read

Apocalyptic novels are written to explore morality, existence and meaning. At their best, they teach philosophy, religion and ethics while being deeply entertained. The Wanderers”, is the high water mark of the genre. It considers AI, racism, global warming, love, life and death and without being preachy reveals the tenuous position our world is in.

Beyond all that, it was great to listen to. The pace might be too slow for some. But for those who love to be immersed into a story, you won’t do better than this.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie J
  • 2019-07-03

Rare thing

I’m 11 chapters in and I can’t stop listening to this book. It’s thoroughly engaging. The science is fascinating. I really want to know why the sleepwalking is happening. I’m enjoying the heck out of this book.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Megan Wright
  • 2019-08-13

interesting

I struggled wth finishing this book, which rarely happens to me. I liked a few characters in the book but that is the only good thing I can say. I usually find redeeming qualities, not this time. 90 + chapters of liberal propaganda, hate smeared CNN talking points, dang near killed me. If you hate white Christians, if you hate all white, southern males because every single one must be a racist white supremacist, you hate police or military, hate God or dont believe, are mostly against guns.. but a bit on the fence, enjoy male on male rape and love constant cussing this book is for you. The rest of the rational, reasonable readers or non politicals.... keep looking.
I shouldnt know, and dont want or need to know authors political affiliations. It had potential...

5 people found this helpful

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  • William Gardner
  • 2019-07-09

Maybe if Philip K Dick had written The Stand....

Wow. Intense. A couple intensely dark chapters (e.g. Chapter 50). The story also has a certain level of predictability, seemingly of intentional design, which allows Wendig to throw some PKD-ish twists into the plot that you just don’t see coming. There are s few similarities to Stephen King’s “The Stand”, but end result is more like what might have been if King, Phillip K. Dick, and Wm Gibson had collaborated for one incredible kick-ass story.

The performances by Hoffman and Sands were very good as well. Sands in particular, does an exceptional job bringing through the character in the female protagonist’s voice.

Definitely recommend.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Cathy
  • 2019-07-12

Incredible Story and Immersive Narration

The audiobook for Wanderers is over 32 hours long and now that I'm done listening I wish I had made it last longer. The story Chuck Wendig tells here takes so many twists and turns I have a hard time describing it to other people. Post apocalyptic, global pandemic, the fall of society, the exploration of machine intelligence, the human connections we make in times of crisis. The setting is so believable I found myself washing my hands more frequently and having to pause so I could remind myself the world wasn't going to shit outside my door.

The use of two narrators alternating between the male and female POV characters created an incredibly immersive experience as well. Do not be afraid of the 32 hour listen time - it is time well spent and expertly narrated!

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • ellegreenland
  • 2019-09-17

Disappointing.

The narration keeps you listening (both Dominic Hoffman and Xe Sands are outstanding!), but the storyline keeps you fast forwarding with endless descriptions, repetitions, and superflous information. I honestly skipped about 6 hours total, and always knew what was going on. The writing is brilliant in some places, with interesting and unique metaphors, but sadly more often it's mediocre. The characters are like just screen shots of actual persons. They're bland, showing emotion, but in an weirdly stunted ways, like they are AI and programmed to be human, instead of honestly being human. I'd be WAY more mad in some of the circumstances they faced, and they're just kind of ticked-off and oddly detached. The story line is regurgitated from many influencers. Stephen King's "The Stand" is even referenced in the dialogue "This is just like The Stand." Indeed. Even the title is out of sync with the book - the "flock" or "black swan" or even the "shepherds" would be better chosen. This is the only book I've listened to that makes me want an abridged edition.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas Rubenstein
  • 2019-08-19

Mixed feelings

I had a hard time figuring out how to rate this book.

On the one hand, the underlying story is pretty interesting, but it has a number of elements that really dragged it down.

1. There are a few scenes of egregiously explicitly violent torture and rape. I literally almost returned the book on the spot after one such part. It’s like listening to a Hostel movie. That said, it’s really only maybe 15 minutes worth over 30 hours.

2. The author injects his politics into the story in a way that, imo, drags down the book. One of the major themes is incredibly contemporary about what is clearly the worst Trump supporters. Despite most likely agreeing with the author politically in many ways, I found it really heavy-handed and lacking nuance. One of the characters is extremely obviously a Trump stand-in, and his supporters are basically comically evil.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-01-17

Holy Smokes

This might be the most densely realized sci-fi I’ve ever read. The book is great, the ideas huge, and the characters so fully fleshed out that I had trouble realizing they weren’t real.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2020-01-07

Excellent Read

I so hope that there are enough requests for you to do a sequel! So many unanswered questions!

1 person found this helpful