Wanderers (Signed Book)

Wanderers (Signed Book)

by Chuck Wendig

Hardcover(Signed Edition)

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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).

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.

Advance 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, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

“A true tour de force.”—Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling 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, #1 New York Times bestselling 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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593157053
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Edition description: Signed Edition
Pages: 800
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and 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.

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Wanderers: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Karen_Benson 6 months ago
My two favorite genres are sci-fi and apocalypse, so when I find a book that blends the two, I’m in reading heaven!! My all time favorite books in this type of genre are The Stand, Swan Song, The Book of M, The Passage, and now... Wanderers! All are epic and most are behemoth books! I couldn’t get enough of Wanderers! A teen girl sleepwalks out of her house one night, but can’t be woken up. Ever. Eventually other sleepwalkers join in. Their loved ones stay with them to watch over them and eventually become known as Shepherds of the Flock. This made for an eerie and disturbing picture in my head. The premise was amazing. As the miles pass by, more and more sleepwalkers join the flock, which means more and more Shepherds. Wendig then veers off to others stories such as the preacher who gets caught up with the white supremacy, at first with some hesitation. His story was very hard to read. A former CDC doctor starts off by investigating the cause but becomes the sleepwalkers’ protector. The strangest storyline was the aging rock and roll star who joins as a Shepherd for attention. His role was one of my favorites! Shana’s sister Nessie was the very first sleepwalker so Shana was the very first Shepherd. I loved Shana’s character the most. Although the book is 800 pages, I never felt that it was a long book. It went by much too fast and I read it in 3 major sittings. I stayed up way too late because I couldn’t put it down!! Chuck Wendig, this was my first time reading one of your books, even though I own several. I need to grab your backlist off of my shelf (they’re even signed!) and get to it!! *Thank you so much to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for the advance copy!!*
Steve Aberle 6 months ago
The Wanderers is a fantastic, engaging, intense and absorbing thrill ride into a future America where disease, distrust, violence, and hope run side by side. Soon, America is in ruins. Groups of people, seemingly asleep and impervious to all stimulation, are walking together, but why and to where? How were they picked? Is it a disease or a blessing? The wanderers are surrounded by others who are shepherds, ensuring their safety and well-being. Doctors from the Center for Disease Control, A.K.A. the C.D.C. attempt multiple tests on the Wanderers but find that the Wanderers cannot be pinched and prodded. For if they are, an amazing event occurs. The story progresses unpredictably as the reader is ineluctably drawn to the fate of the Wanderers and their shepherds. The Wanderers is a fantastic ride that in Disneyland would be impossible to approach because so many people would be waiting online. I absolutely loved this book and you will too.
David Walters 6 months ago
Thanks to the publisher and author for an advanced reading copy of Wanderers in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel. When I saw the cover reveal for Wanderers last year, I just knew that I had to have it. I am a big fan of Wendig’s writing, especially his Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy and Miriam Black series. Knowing that this was going to be an epic tome, approximately 775 pages, I had to come up with a plan of action in order to get to it among the multitude of other novels begging for my attention. Well, suffice it to say, Wanderers didn’t have to beg for my constant attention over the past week or so. I was more than happy to give it my full and undivided attention each and every time I opened up my Kindle. This cinder block of a novel never stopped gripping me with its meaty fists, even after I had turned the last page and thought back on the journey I had just traversed. I have to say this though: yes, it is a monster of a novel and the page count doesn’t even begin to stack up against the word count (I can only imagine the freaking word count…), but I never felt overwhelmed or that I was drowning in the pages. This is a story you really never want to end, even though it has to stop at some point and allow you to get out of bed and get on with your day. There are many early reviews comparing it to Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ (and even Chuck throws a little nod to King in the novel), but Wanderers wholly stands on its own merit. I also reflected on a couple of other big names and works like Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead’ and Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ while reading, but as far as comparisons or similarities go, they are few and far between. Wanderers is a novel that I felt never really took its foot off the accelerator. There were never any parts that I felt I had to slog through, and even though a majority of our time is spent with “the horde”, there was enough packed into each successive chapter to keep me engaged. While the most engaging part of the novel was the intrigue surrounding the epidemic, the vast array of characters proved to be the the highlight. There are plenty of POVs to see each and every scene from a variety of angles, each one topping the previous and adding more depth to the story. You are also provided an open door into the minds of each and every main character, exposing their innermost thoughts, desires, and motivations. Being able to see everything unfold from the variety of characters was simply stunning. While this is a tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world, Wendig also weaves in denialistic views on climate change, the world’s addiction to technology and the requirement of it to survive, white supremacy being on the rise again (still don’t really get why it’s a thing), science being sorely overlooked, and presidential race that looks all too familiar. There is also a pretty heavy focus on religion (not really enlightening if you are a Believer like myself), but I chose to tune out those bits in order to look at the story as a whole instead of gawking at the way it was displayed and getting upset over it. All in all, Wanderers is THE epic of the summer and you need to make sure you have it on your wishlist. This book is an electrifying marvel and deserves your attention, so make it a priority. Your bookshelf, or your reading device, will thank you.
TPulyer 6 months ago
Wanderers takes the reader on an amazing journey of self-discovery. As an epic apocalyptic sci-fi novel that rings true in a disturbingly fantastical manner, the story follows two sisters – Shana and Nessie – as they discover love and loss and calls into question the readers’ beliefs on theology, politics, technology, and environmental issues. What I liked: It is easy to suspend disbelief. Within the story, there are many references to different aspects of pop culture, such as video games and books by other authors that were similar in topic. Such a seemingly small thing, but one that made it almost impossible for the reader to not feel the connection and to believe the stories possibility. The novel encompasses many of the major theories of what will cause humankind’s demise. Even though the story takes on so many different theoretical beliefs on the demise of humankind, in the end, it all comes together to make perfect sense. This is precisely what makes the novel epic. Each character is unique in voice and beliefs. Whether a major or minor character, each is complex, distinct, and fully developed. It would be easy in a novel such as this to make the characters more of a caricature rather than believable and much like people you have met in your life journey. But credible they are, and that makes the story that much more complex. The mostly chronological timeline. Many novels in this genre tend to switch up the timeframe until the reader is unsure of what’s going on. At no point are you uncertain of where you are in the timeline as the novel is predominately chronological? What I wish: That I had more time to savor the nuances. Eight hundred pages may be off-putting to some readers, but you should not let it stop you from reading this book as it’s worth the time invested. I only wish I had more time to notice and appreciate the more subtle aspects of the story. The minor characters are easier to remember when they popped in and out of the story. I had no problem remembering the names of the main characters, but the minor characters were a problem for me. It could have been because, when you added in the minor characters, there is a large cast of characters. Or it could be because after being gone for a bit, the minor characters weren’t subtly reintroduced. To read or not to read: You will be missing out on a story that will leave you awed if you don’t pick up this book. It includes so many different genres that it is appealing to many different readers. Chuck Wendig’s novel Wanderers is a compelling, thought-provoking story that will make you question your own opinions of many issues in the world today. Thanks to Del Ray Publishers and NetGalley for my advanced copy given with the expectation of receiving an honest review.
Anonymous 30 days ago
Chuck Wendig is an absolutely incredible writer, and Wanderers is a powerful and painful indictment of our world, our species, and everything in between.
microcosm13 3 months ago
Shelf this novel next to the works of Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and George Orwell. One of the best dystopian stories ever written.
lostinagoodbook 3 months ago
Give me good post-apocalyptic fiction every time. Give me 800 pages of a well written book and I’m a hog in heaven. Give me good characters and a barn burning story line. Unfortunately, this book did not fully live up to my expectations. It’s a good premise and some of the characters are definitely interesting. A gay rock star following the flock in hopes of finding some inner peace was a real favorite. Other characters also pleased me to a certain degree. But the plot itself, the menacing over-the top villains, the mysterious disease, the inscrutable AI controlling everyone’s destiny … none of it touched me. That is the real failing of the book. It didn’t make me feel any real sense of horror, pity, fondness, or curiosity. I just meandered down the road with the flock, hoping for an interesting ending. In the meantime, it felt like a really looooong dusty road, and that’s unforgivable for a book of this genre. Disclaimer: I Received this book free from Netgalley
Anonymous 3 months ago
Up there with The Stand. page turner.
Anonymous 3 months ago
The Stand is probably my very favorite Stephen King book so I grabbed Wanderers when the jacket plot sounded familiar. This is not The Stand rewritten. It is a very good story of it's own merit. Any type of story that spends the time to build each character and bring them together in an epic community to accomplish a goal...even though they did not know that's what they were doing in the first part...will give you an explosive ending that makes it worth the time you invest in their story. Chuck Wendig may have borrowed the popularity of the The Stand to catch a reader's interest, but he keeps it by writing one heck of a book.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig is the stuff of nightmares and reality - making it even scarier. I had to put it aside more than once when anxiety began manifesting as physical symptoms. I loved it! Fingers crossed in hopes of another book either continuing the story or in the same universe.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I found out about this book from a post on Facebook from NPR. I never would've thought I'd get such a great sci-fi suggestion from NPR! (it has some political unrest in it that ties in to what is going on here in the US right now). This book had such great character development and just enough science in it to keep the nerd in me satisfied.
EllieBarrett 3 months ago
I had to write my review, and I am only half way through Wanderers!! Chuck Wendig has written an incredible book, along the Stephen King genre, (in fact, Stephen King, would, I think, love this book!). I’m so in awe of it, I couldn’t wait to review it. It is awesome, incredible, and I am unable to put it down. Mr. Wendig has an eye for the most interesting smallest detail. It’s a long book, even better, because this is a story that I’m reading on the edge of my seat, and I don’t want it to end! But, I’ll read ceaselessly to see how he resolves this fascinating and indelible book. Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing. I AM A FAN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Side note... Mr Wendig has everything in this book, from fungi to rockstars...it’s a great thrilling ride Well, I finally finished it! WHEW! I must say it was exhausting, but really really good. This novel is so closely connected to our political times in the US right now, that some of the story (when it comes to Stover and the hateful, mean and corrupt ARM), could actually happen. Frightening and furious, the violence and evil could be real. But, I'm glad to report that there is somewhat of a good ending, well, an ending, nevertheless...that makes you think, OH NO! So, Mr. Wendig, is there a sequel to this, so we find out what happened to Shana and her baby?
Anonymous 4 months ago
Good read for summer. Some areas of story line are hard to see logic.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I can't think of a book of this length that I've read faster. This is an emotional and complex read that grapples with much of what defines modern life. And at its heart, is a simple story about people trying to care for one another.You should read it.
ThePedestrianEquestrian 5 months ago
First, let me say that Wanderers was a BIG undertaking. When I requested it, I did not expect it to be 800 pages. I was a little nervous getting into this one as I watched page after page go by without making a dent in the length of the book. Don't be scared off by this though, it's worth the time investment! Wanderers consists of several storylines, which include Shana Stewart - older sister to the first "walker", Nessie; Benjamin "Benji" Ray - disgraced CDC employee, recruited by computer intelligence Black Swan; Black Swan - computer intelligence system, developed to predict and identify potential crisis through pattern recognition; Ozark Stover - white nationalist disguised as a Christian; pastor Matthew Bird - a naive but well-meaning man who sacrificed his family for his devotion to his church; Marcy Reyes - a shepherd who has no actual connection to the flock, aside from a miraculous recovery from a baseball bat to the head, taken as a police officer, but who feels better and can fully function when in close proximity to the flock; and Pete Corley - an older rock musician, whose career is over but who refuses to let that get in the way of his search for the limelight. Wanderers is a haunting reflection of America today, as political unrest is an underlying theme throughout, driven by a misunderstanding and misdirection of religion. The current political climate, the slow death of the planet and the human race due to our own negligence, the division of a country because of religious beliefs and racism, and the reality that our technological developments may actually turn against us. While it is an extremely long read, Chuck Wendig did a fantastic job developing his characters, the disease of White Mask, and the idea of Black Swan. There were a lot of parts in this book that made me uncomfortable (as books like this often do), so I will include these trigger warnings - rape, racism, violence, disease.
Christine Sandquist 5 months ago
Wanderers is a slow burn that builds up to a solid, satisfying conclusion. Loose ends are tied, character arcs have appropriate ends. A few moments are a bit heartbreaking – but that, I would argue, is to be expected in a book dealing with a mass outbreak of mysterious plague. The destruction is twofold: first, an unknown illness causes individuals to begin walking, almost like sleepwalkers or zombies. If someone attempts to stop them from reaching their goal, they become human bombs – exploding in a mass of sharp bone and blood, killing those around them. Second, there’s a mysterious fungal infection spreading. Whether this is related to the walkers is unknown, but Benji, a member of the CDC, has his suspicions. Surrounding those who are afflicted by the walking disease is a caravan of their loved ones. Known as Shepherds, all they can do is watch the flock of walkers and do their best to protect them as they may. Watching Shana care for her sister, Nessie, as she mindlessly walks endlessly towards an unknown destination is painful. She brushes her hair, keeps her clean, and makes sure that Nessie has someone on the outside who loves and cares for her. While the overall plot was revealed slowly, this allowed Wendig plenty of opportunity to dive deep into current social issues such as white supremacy, cult tactics, vaccinations, et cetera. Although the political leaders in the novel were fictional, they had clear parallels with our current elected officials (especially a certain someone who enjoys Tweeting quite a bit).
whatthebook 5 months ago
I received an advanced reader copy of Wanderers from Penguin Random House via NetGalley, in return for my honest opinion. Wanderers by Chuck Wendig is an apocalyptic story that has it all…a strange illness, artificial intelligence, fear of the unknown, violence brought on by this fear, and the human instinct to survive. One morning Shana wakes to her sister, Nessie, in a trance like state, walking down the street. Shana can’t get Nessie to wake up and she can’t abandon her, so she walks with her. Soon there’s a flock of people walking with Nessie and Shana- some seem to be suffering from the same malady as Nessie and some are shepherding their loved ones, like Shana. Benji Ray, a former CDC employee, is intrigued by this group of walkers and soon finds himself walking with them. As Benji and other members of the CDC try to decipher what is causing this illness, they will learn that there’s an even bigger threat to the global human population. As hysteria grows, so does violence. How many people will try to prevent Benji from keeping the flock safe? What happens to the flock if Benji and the shepherds aren’t there to protect them? This was a great story, but it was very long- it kept my interest for the entire 800 pages. If you liked The Stand by Stephen King, you’ll definitely enjoy Wanderers.
RMeckley 6 months ago
This is a whopping, 700+-page mammoth opus that has so much action, I'm not even going to try to describe the plot. Broad themes are covered - environment, religion, politics, family, military, artificial intelligence, even rock music. The writing is very detailed, descriptive, clear, unusual, creative, and surprisingly easy to follow. The many, many characters are so well-drawn that I had little difficulty keeping everyone straight in my mind. I'm not sure that I like, or accept, the ending, but I'm still thinking about it, so that speaks volumes. It will take a solid commitment to read this very long book, but it will be well worth the time and effort. Thanks to NetGalley for providing a preprint copy.
SRKirchner 6 months ago
I had to sit with this one for a while before I could write a review. At its heart, all the hallmarks that make me love Wendig's writing were here. Snark, attention to minor details, unique and engaging side characters, a spunky female lead. Unfortunately, though, I found myself waning as the book wore on. From the beginning, Shana's devotion to her sister caught me and it was really her that pulled me through the low points of the story. While I'm usually a fan of a big cast, there does come a point at which the cast becomes TOO big. I often felt like that was a case here. As the flock moved through the states and grew in size, so did my confusion at times over who was who. Characters would be named and I'd find myself wondering if I was supposed to know who they were. The side plot with the anarchist militia group felt unneeded, cumbersome and a little too on the nose for the current political climate. While I'm not a person who is easily put off, the on-page rape scene felt gratuitous, nothing more than a cheap shorthand so the reader understood that Stoover was REALLY BAD. He was so bad that he almost felt like a caricature. It just felt like Wendig was trying to shove too much into one book. While the characters may have compared this story to The Stand, it was not that classic by any means. So after all that, why is my rating so high? Shana, Benji, and ultimately, Black Swan. The ambiguous ending stuck with me long enough that I realized I cared far more than I thought I did. I found myself thinking about the morality of the story and wondering about the ending long after the book was over. Sometimes, a story is masterful in the way it hooks you at the beginning, but the ones that stay with you are the ones that are masterful in how they hook you at the end. This was one of those stories that will stay with me.
Kristina75 6 months ago
It's allergy season right now, and every sneeze - whether my own or anyone's on the street - brings Wanderers back to mind again and again. This book is a thriller wrapped in environmental science and the politics of our time. When browsing for something new to read, the description reminded me a lot of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker but that’s where the similarities end. Where The Dreamers is, well, dreamy… Wanderers reads more like an edge-of-your-seat, binge-able television series, in the best way. The storytelling is spot-on, with a mysterious and emotionally-driven introduction to the mysterious sleepwalking “sickness” followed by a look at the bigger picture. Discovering how these characters each deal with the mystery they must unravel, and the dangers inherent in nationwide panic has put all other reading on the back-burner for me. Watching the world end has rarely been so pleasurable.
tracy_reads79 6 months ago
Giant, crashing meteors. Zombie outbreaks. Alien invasions. Cataclysmic weather events. Earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions. Nuclear disasters. Insidious biological/viral maladies. Why are so many of us drawn to tales that outline the destruction of life as we know it? These are not light things. Unimaginable loss of life and the complete breakdown of technological comforts and common social behavior are not the things we look for to inspire levity. Hyong-Jun Moon (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee) states that “the extreme versions of future catastrophe in apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives might function as a psychological buffer, through which [people] strive to accustom themselves to the coming realities of harshness, insufficiency, and antagonism” (241). This explanation makes sense to me; we look to fiction such as this in order to view possible outcomes at a safe distance.. It is the possibility that these things may come to pass in some form that draws us in -- will we make it, is there hope? I mention all of this to lead up to Chuck Wendig’s newest release, Wanderers. Thank you to Del ray and NetGalley for an early e-copy. This is a BIG book, a chunky almost 800 page hardcover. It is a major time investment. And absolutely, 100% worth every second of it. As mentioned in the synopsis, a mysterious affliction manifests in part of the population. What follows is one of the most engaging, well-developed, and epic journeys I have ever read. And yeah, I’ve read and watched a LOT of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. As one might expect in a book of this length, there is a veritable host of characters introduced throughout. Lay people, scientists, a preacher, CDC members, politicians, zealots, backwoods militia, and more. This unfolds organically and I had no issue keeping track of who was who and their relation to other characters. This is crucial. These people are crafted so beautifully and it was an easy, natural development for me to accept. I don’t want to talk about plot. Read the book. What I will comment on is Wendig’s ability to tweak a thread here that becomes something of huge importance later, while still weaving these pieces into a tapestry of storytelling that left me in awe. I was never lost, often surprised, and always on the edge of my seat until the next discovery was revealed. I could wax on for days about various thematic elements in this novel. There are so many. What effect have humans had on this world? Is where we are heading entirely our fault? How does the cultural system of religion play a part when the world we know goes sideways? Are there benefits to creating newer, better technology? What is good and what is evil? These are the things that draw me to books like The Stand, Swan Song, The Road, and most definitely Wanderers. I didn't know how exactly to approach this review at first. I found myself falling into several internet rabbit holes on apocalyptic fiction because it is fascinating. . In fact, I’ve culled so much from this review already. You don’t need to hear more from me, but if you ask, I will most definitely have more to say. This book is an experience, a treasure, and just an epic read. I will be re-reading this when I have a physical copy on hand. I want to hold the weight of it, flip the pages, and dive back into a world that completely immersed me. So yeah, read the book. I cannot recommend it more highly. Thank you, Mr. Wendig.
Anonymous 6 months ago
877 pages of awesome Great writing!
cindyrnet 6 months ago
I had not heard of this writer, Chuck Wendig, prior to reading this book. I received an advance readers copy for a fair and honest review. This novel is about the end of the world as we know it. It takes liberty with themes we have seen before from books like The Stand , Swan Song, and even comics like The Walking Dead. Early in the book I felt kind of like BEEN HERE BEFORE, but as the story progresses it is not the same book as the others Sure, those themes are present to some degree...but the author has a nice set of characters , scenarios and also added more than a few swipes at the politics , global warming and violence, racism we are having in our country right now.. It is a long book. 800 pages. I like long books when written well and this one is a keeper..
abcas100 6 months ago
I didn't care for this book. The story line was good, but the execution was poor. This could have been a great book, but the author chose to use foul language, politics, tropes, and stereotypes to get his point across. All it did was distract from the story line. Shana wakes up to find her sister missing. She runs out of the house to find her. When she does, her little sister seems to be in some kind of trance and just keeps waking. It is almost like she is sleep walking, but no matter what she tries, Shana can't get her to wake up or to stop. She seems to have some inexplicable destination drawing her forward. Soon they are joined by others, some walkers and some shepherds like Shana. This spreads across the country and soon the nation is flung into chaos. I have never read a book by this author before and I will probably never read one again. I read books to be entertained. I can handle a little bit of politics in the stories I read, but this book went way overboard. The author's beliefs are very clear. Christians - Bad! Republicans - Bad! Conservatives - Bad! White males - Bad! I don't understand why anyone would write a book that would tick off half of their readers. Some of the characters were so stereotypical that it almost made me laugh. I can't believe that someone would write this drivel. I would not recommend this book to anyone. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
MadamPince 6 months ago
For no apparent reason, people develop a dead stare and start walking. They respond to nothing; their thick skin can’t be penetrated. If something gets in their way, they climb over it effortlessly. If someone tries to restrain them, they shudder and their body temperature rises until they burst in a spray of blood and bone, killing not only themselves, but those around them. All this brings forth the good and bad of American society: the good shepherds, family members who plod alongside their loved ones; and the bad: religious fanatics, right-wing politicians, and rabid white supremacists with armaments that rival those of the United States military. It’s an election year, with the incumbent Nora Hunt a Hillary Clinton-like female referenced in vulgar terms by those who despise her, and a reckless far-right opponent named Ed Creel, who curses at reporters and spews lies, conspiracies, and calls to violence against the walkers, shepherds, and anyone who opposes him. The CDC, under the guidance of Dr. Benji Ray, is assigned to track the walkers and fights off the violent intrusion of Homeland Security, but finds its charges and themselves repeatedly under attack: on the ground by armed militias ready to snatch their country away from a president and society they despise; over the airwaves by a preacher suddenly famous for his increasingly violent scriptural interpretations of sinners in the hands of an angry God; and through the Internet by countless commenters around the world advocating a variety of strategies. Their only protection is an artificial intelligence program named Black Swan, which seemingly holds the key to this panic if it’s asked the right questions. Until a fungus nicknamed White Mask begins to spread around the world, with a one hundred percent death rate, and the only people not affected by the illness are the walkers, which enrages their paranoid adversaries even further. Chuck Wendig made sure to cover every conceivable base in this book, but clocking in at 800 pages in hardcover, he’s sorely in need of a good editor to murder his darlings. Entire storylines could easily fall or shorten under an expert red pen — Pastor Matthew Bird and his intact but estranged family are unnecessary baggage, and militia leader Ozark Stover’s sadism veers way too far into Deliverance territory. Even vital characters like Shana, Marcy, and Dr. Ray are burdened with too much backstory, and aging punk rocker/rebellion leader Pete Corley receives far too much of the attention he craves. An entire simulation, much like a video game, featuring the walkers makes no sense and merely pads out the story, as if Wendig had a word or page count to meet. There aren’t many characters who feels unfinished or mysterious, which isn’t a compliment. If Wendig isn’t actively emulating Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Stand, he at least lays this manuscript at its altar. And while the two books have a lot in common, Wendig simply lacks the chops to pull off such a complex tale, a feat King has achieved repeatedly throughout his long and storied career. In Wendig’s defense, not many writers have been able to match King’s most popular book, but he and Random House provoked a deliberate comparison by issuing such a similar novel nearly 41 years after The Stand’s first issuance.