"We're about to cross the point of no return. God help us; we're flying in the dark, and we don't know where the hell we're going."
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen - from the president of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City - will fight for survival.
Swan Song is Robert McCammon's prescient and shocking vision of a post-apocalyptic nation, a grand epic of terror and, ultimately, renewal.
In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity. They include Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets... Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station... and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan's gifts. But the ancient force behind earth's devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself.
Please note: Two chapters were originally missing from Part 2 of this book. We were alerted to the problem on 11/21/11 and have corrected it. We're very sorry for any inconvenience. If you had already downloaded the book, don’t worry - your library has automatically updated with the corrected version. Simply re-download from your library, at no additional cost, to get the complete book.
©2009 Robert McCammon (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
This book would have been better if really did have any element of
This book makes me very cautious about reader reviews. If this genre is only
These characters are 'mankind' and 'haters of mankind'. The haters win and the reader will hope for relief in vain.
I would cut Swan. She gives the reader the illusion of hope, but her role is silly and undeveloped.
This seems like a book that would appeal to a culture that has given up on itself.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
This was my first and probably last Robert McCammon book. Firstly, the positive: the book did hold my attention. It was exciting in a horrible kind of way. You know how our eyes are drawn to gory sites? I think it is a pathology of the human condition. I mean why would we read books of this ilk in the first place. The book starts with nuclear war and two superpowers exchanging missiles. It then quickly shifts to the aftermath and three or four subplots that intersect as the book progresses and culminates in a rather silly ending.
I often comment in reviews about how much a narrator makes or breaks a book. In this case I believe it was the latter. Tom Stechschulte does a great job with the older male voices and especially the most demonic of them all. The women and youngster of both genders are overly melodramatic to the point of being distracting and adding a color to the text itself that might not actually be there in the printed word. In an overly, nitpicking kind-of-way it almost seems unethical for a narrator to actually change a book by how it's read but it is done and sometimes for the better. I'm having difficulty determining if the opposite was true here or the book was just not that great on its own.
There were many unanswered questions not the least of which was who was the protagonist Swan in the first place. What was the crown. How could the devil have been so easily outwitted and even physically outfought by some loony, old bag lady. Give me a break.
I did not totally (but mostly) dislike the book. After all, I finished the 30+ hours of it but, as is often the case, I only kept going and hoping that it would have a great ending. It did not. The ending was silly and actually the whole book got worse as it went on. This was a book that perhaps a YA male might enjoy but for me it lacked depth, imagination and a good narrator.
A musician and songwriter from the Boston area. I like "Regular Guy" books. No chick Lit, no zombies, or vampires please. No politics.
Shorten it up and it would be a much better story.
I think the "bad guys" all sounded the same.
Oh, I wouldn't want to be burdened with the amount of editing needed to remove all the unnecessary repetitive scenes.
If you are a fan of cliches and dated descriptions of US vs. USSR hostile relations, you might enjoy this
A large number of characters is introduced in the first 2 hours - not a single one of them likeable!
Overall, it put me off so much with its dated political attitudes and unlikeable characters, that I decided it was not worth my time. I think this is the only book I've not finished so far - and that's saying a lot since I did make it though tedious books like the Butlerian Jihad for sake of finding out how they end!
Enjoy the adventure
Should have read more reviews. I would have learned the book follows the lives of a few people who survived a nuclear holocaust. Most run around hungry, stinky and had to watch friends die gruesome deaths. Where is the fun in that?
There were a couple of themes I enjoyed. When the world crashes around a person, this is an opportunity for a new beginning. Also, to reach tomorrow’s goal, we must beat today’s problem.
At 956 pages, this book was long. I don’t mind a long book, but I tend to delay in reading them because they are such a time commitment and 1000 pages of literature can seem quite daunting.
I would compare Swan Song to The Stand. I never read The Stand, but (unfortunately) I saw the movie and these books are pretty similar except in The Stand, it was some sort of plague that wiped out the population and in Swan Song, it is nuclear war.
Despite its length, Swan Song kept my attention from beginning to end. There was a nice introductory period for each character that was sufficient to get a handle on their individual situations without dragging on too long before the apocalypse begins, and there were also just enough characters to keep the story moving without it getting too diluted. Though there are moments where you wonder how McCammon is going to tie all of these characters together, gradually it begins to come into focus and he even throws in a somewhat unexpected twist at the end that kind of comes out of nowhere but somehow also makes perfect sense.
There was an inconsistency to the villain in the story that bothered me a bit. I was confused as to his end game. Sometimes he seemed to want to make sure that the world ended while other times, it wasn’t so much that he wanted it to end, but that he wanted to make sure that everyone kept warring with each other and/or suffering as much as humanly possible. Which is it? Do you want them to live and suffer or do you want the slate to be wiped clean? And then, there were times when he wanted something, and though he seemed unstoppable in every other situation, he would somehow fumble his opportunity and then come up with a justification for why he didn’t need it anyway. And there was absolutely no explanation as to his origins. He was simply the manifestation of evil and McCammon left it at that.
I really liked the juxtaposition of having some characters to root for and some to root against. In the beginning, it’s hard to tell where he’s going with some of the characters, particularly what I'll call his two sub-villains. But as the story develops, McCammon uses those characters to give you a distinctly different picture of his post-apocalyptic world – a world where people are just trying to get by and a world in where everyone is fighting for power.
It was a gritty book. Cringe worthy at times, but what can you really expect from a post-apocalyptic book. If you’ve got a weak stomach, you might want to steer clear. But if you can handle it and a book of this length, then I would highly recommend Swan Song.
Audiobook review: I thought Tom Stechschulte did an excellent job. His voice was strong and easy to listen to, and he had a clear and distinct voice for each main character.
McCammon? No. Not without scanning the physical copy quite thoroughly first.
Too much deus ex libre. Waaaay too much. It's not preachy mind you - not at all. It just requires too many 'divine' assumptions I simply don't share for me to enjoy.Plus the stereotyping of race and gender. The main characters were exceptions, yes - but that doesn't give McCammon a free pass. After all, main characters are intended (from an author such as this at least) to be exceptional in some manner.
The narrator did a fair job.
Oh certainly. The author is a fair writer.
I don't think Robert McCammon sets out to be a Stephen King clone by any means so please don't take what I'm about to say to mean that. If I'd known just how King-ish a writer McCammon was beforehand, I would have passed on this book.
I am a D-Bag.
Can anyone say rip off. Well maybe not out right plagerism (not sure if I spelled it right) but close. I was embrassed for McCammon for writing this.
If I'd read the blurb more thoroughly, I might have twigged that this story was going to be a supernatural thriller / cautionary tale, rather than the sort of straightforward apocalyptic survival story that I really enjoy, and was expecting. I didn't like how much inexplicable supernatural weirdness was going on, and the whole bit about people's true character's ending up showing on their faces seemed like an old fable. And what the heck was the man with the scarlet eye, anyway? It was never really made clear.
The author's habit of cutting off swear words irked me - he clearly wanted his dialogue to be edgy but didn't have the courage of his convictions to actually have his characters saying words like "bitch" without someone or something interrupting them.
Maybe it was largely due to my expectations, but I'm afraid I was quite disappointed with this book - from about halfway through, I was mainly continuing just because I'd paid for it.
Audiobooks are the greatest invention ever!
After almost 50 audiobooks this is the first one I am not going to finish. In a moment of late night haste I only downloaded the first and third parts of the audiobook. After listening to 16 hours of parts one and three I saw that I was just going through the motions. I'd listen to and from work but wasn't looking for reasons to grab my headphones at home.
I know it is unfair to judge a novel without experiencing all of it. I will not say Swan Song is a bad novel. I will say...
1. I found the story to be slow
2. I never felt the characters give me a reason to be interested
3. I was sufficiently uninterested in the story to notice that I had skipped 25% of it.
If you read the description and other reviews and are interested, by all means, get the book. You may love it. I didn't and have left off with the feeling that if I wanted to read The Stand I would have downloaded The Stand.
I will say the narrator is good.
"Long but worth the effort"
This is my second Audible book, and the first time I have been driven to write a review (of any kind). I have to say that this would not be my choice of book to read. Too big and not my normal genre. I have far too many books and not enough time to read them all ( oh woe is me!). I joined Audible to broaden my tastes with something different whilst walking the dogs, and I found that this lengthy (30 hours) story became an evening obsession for a month or so.
Yes, it is a dark tale of a post nuclear apocalyptic America and is sometimes difficult to hear of the destruction and long term suffering...but that really is the point. How can you explore the possibility of redemption and survival without the descent into evil and chaos in the first place?. And it is like The Stand in that it is an exploration of good verses evil, with groups of characters on each side.
But... the similarity ends there.
The author has created a compelling story where each of the 90 or so chapters follows the POV of groups of people on either side of the moral divide. The main characters soon become familiar, and their individual stories inexorably and sometimes painfully progress to a satisfying and exciting series of confrontations at the climax of the book. I liked the ending.
The big thing for me though was the experience of having this book, that I never would have read normally, delivered as a professional spoken performance through my earphones in the Ashdown Forest every day for a month. Really quite surreal!
I was not convinced at the start, but was soon drawn into the timbre of Tom Stechshulte's voice. His vocal interpretation of each of the characters became to be "just right". This is not simply someone reading aloud. (erm Librivox anyone?) This is a proper job! I could not wait for my next daily instalment!
Now...what to listen to next?
"As much an experience as a book !"
I can say with hand on heart that this is the best book I've ever read, well listened to, but you know what I mean.
The book covers the story of three main groups of suvivors of a nuclear war and wraps everything together nicely and cleverly by the end.
Now, there are a few bad reviews here about it being graphic and violent , and this is undoubtably true. However this is a book about the end of the world - it's going to be nasty - there's no sugar coating to be had. I really can't see that it should be marked down because of that.There are a few moments of animals in peril as well that I found upsetting but I think the author just wasn't up for giving any get out of jail free cards - it's the end of the world - walts and all.
You'll grow to love the characters and sometimes the author will kill them without any warning and you're left truly feeling a personal loss - honestly !
I finished this yesterday, I did take a break half way through to listen to something else as it honestly is an emotional roller coaster ride and you sometimes need something a bit lighter for a wee while.
You will cry, you'll maybe have the odd laugh too - but I can't see how anyone who likes this genre could do anything but love this book.
I'm glad this was never made into a movie - I don't think anyone could do justice to this epic.
There is a little bit of fantasy wrapped up in the novel as well, this isn't really my thing, but it's not much and it actually fits the story well.
I think the narrator does a cracking job as well and his voices for the characters were a good fit in my opinion.
So ... Sister, Swan and Josh - thanks for the journey - I'll miss you !
"End of the World.."
Loved the character Sister, a fight between good and evil in the strictest sense, no smudging of lines in-between, very much like the 'Stand' by Steven King, which I must admit nudges into the lead between the two. Easy read and entertaining well as much as the end of the world can be!
Have just read the previous review and had to briefly write my thoughts which are the exact opposite of the last reviewer.
I couldn't wait to finish the book as I was thoroughly enthralled and caught up with the characters, I didn't notice how brutish it was as I expected rage and violence etc as it's an end of the world type of book.
I really enjoyed it and will read it again at some point.
Give it a try.
"A brilliant, post-apocalyptic adventure tale!"
How is it that this book has been off my radar for so long!? Seriously. I love epic, post-apocalyptic tales of survival and so this book should have been on my list from the moment of its release. Okay... maybe not that far back as I was two years old when it was originally released. No. This book was so good that even then I should have had it on my wishlist.
This book is a must read if you are a fan of Stephen King's The Stand or Justin Cronin's The Passage. I happen to be a huge fan of both and Swan Song is a bit like the love-child of these works.
It has a whole bunch in common with The Stand. The survivors of the apocalypse (which takes the form of a nuclear strike instead of a government-engineered plague) fall into two camps of Good vs Evil. There's a "dark man" figure who is decidedly evocative of King's Randall Flagg, and there are many religious undercurrents to the narrative.
King's work was first published in '78 so it pre-dates Swan Song. Even though the argument could be made that McCammon's work is derivative, I actually don't care. I see it more as one great piece of fiction inspiring another. While King's work is definitely superior, McCammon's story is still a wonderful read. Whole bunches of books have been inspired by great predecessors, and just because they don't measure up to them, doesn't mean they can't be great in their own right.
I guess there was a lot about this book which reminded me of other books, and I know that's not necessarily a good thing. However, in this case I honestly enjoyed every aspect of the book. The situation was gripping, the characters were realistic and the premise was epic. This is one of those books that I'd recommend to people after they'd read and loved The Stand. It's not as good as that, but it's damned decent as a follow-up read! A fab not-so-little read!
Download this book instantly, you WILL NOT BE DISSAPPOINTED. This book gripped me from the outset and wouldn't let me go. I nearly pulled an all nighter listening to this once and I had to ban myself from night time listens. It is just so clever, and emotional and character driven. It shows evil and hope at a great time of difficulty. The narrator is pretty special and the writing is brilliant. It's a long book too (which is great) and I truly dreaded reaching the end. I was sad to see 'my friend' go. Don't hesitate to get this book.
I've read most of Robert McCammons books and loved them. This is no exception. Tom does a really good job of the narration as well so double bonus. Not sure why the previous reviewer put what they did it's a post-apocalyptic tale - what did they expect!! Love that the characters are all so different and each have their own story to tell
Great story which is superbly read. I found myself building a relationship with every main character - good and bad - and thoroughly enjoying every moment of the book. As previous reviewer posted, I would expect a certain amount of "nastiness" in a post-apocalyptic environment and thus it didn't bother me. In fact, I think it helped creating the right atmosphere. Definitely a keeper!
"A thoroughly unexpected pleasure"
When I bought this book I thought I knew what to expect having seen many reviews which mentioned The Stand and having had a recent binge of post-apocalyptic reading myself. It managed, though, to deliver much more than I expected and something very different from what I expected.
The beginning was, I think I can say without being too unkind, pretty much run-of-the-mill and conventional. There was a brief pencil sketch depiction of the main characters we were going to follow in their lives before the outbreak of Nuclear War and I have to say at this point the novel felt like the start of any disaster "B" movie and I worried that I had made a big mistake in buying this one, but very soon the author began to bring in some discordant and original notes.
Without risking too much of a spoiler I think that I can safely reveal that as this novel continues it soon leaves behind gritty realism and approaches something closer to gritty magical realism. The themes of Good and Evil become embodied in certain characters and the nature of reality warps around them and the reader in an original and challenging way. I think herein may lie a challenge for some readers: if you buy a fantasy novel with an elf and a wizard on the front you know the extent to which you are going to be expected to suspend your disbelief but you may not be braced for a similar extent of suspension when you buy a novel about the survivors in an American landscaped ravaged by nuclear war. However, once you make this compromise this becomes an incredible journey in which you become deeply involved - I have to confess there was one point I didn't want continue because what little good had been reclaimed from this destroyed world was all about to be destroyed and I couldn't see any way for it to be avoided: that is how involved I had become in the story.
The end of the novel might strike some as a little too neat and maybe a touch glib but I think that having travelled so far with the author and these characters we have all earned some kind of closure and not a cheap opening for book two. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will come back to it again (and again, quite possibly). I will recommend it whole-heartedly to certain of my friends and if you want to know whether I would recommend it to you I would say that if you enjoyed The Stand and or The Passage then this book is probably for you or if you enjoy a little fantasy in your reading but don't like it too feel too childish then this is the book for you too.
I can not leave without a little word about the narration. Tom Stechschulte manages to portray a wonderful array of characters, accents and emotions with consistency and flair. He is a truly talented gentleman and who made a tour-de-force performance with this novel.
I was disappointed at first, extremely slow to start but about 5 hours in I got hooked and had to finish it. Have only read one other book by R McCammon the Wolf Hour and loved it so was hoping this would be as good.
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