"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.
How does one make a nuclear war boring? By telling it from the perspective of cardboard characters, and by not bothering to do any research on how such a conflict would proceed. I listened to the first four hours of this book, and found nothing to hold my attention. I didn't care about the characters, with the possible exception of Josh. I found his description of the nuclear Holocaust laughable in it's inaccuracy. I was dissatisfied with the performance, but since I can't put my finger on just why, it could be that the book was simply too poor for even a good narrator to bring it to life. Very disappointing in almost every respect.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
I"m mystified by the positive reviews.. it reads, well - badly. Like a teen attempt at a genre filled to the brink with talented versions. Maybe it's just me? I found the storyline painfully uncreative and I'm a huge end of the world, creepy terror, classic spook story kinda gal... trite, dissappointing, uninteresting even when i was low on books. And I sometimes relisten to things many times. I'm not hard to please. I'll keep it on my ipod and attempt to get through it someday - but I just drove 20 hours and have had it for a month and can't get past part one. Teach me to buy based on hours long...
I read this book years ago and still have it. Glad it finally came out on audio. I listen to it and going to again. I am sure I miss some of it the first time around. Great listener. Hope more of his books come out on audio too.
Never say never, but probably not--because horror is not my favorite genre.
Most: the vivid characters and the quick pacing; Least: cliches, made-for-the-movies smarmy moments, undefined talismans and loose ends.
I'm split on this...one moment he is doing an excellent job, the next he is obviously interpreting the written words with incongruent meaning and inflections. But he certainly read with gusto!
I'd bet the fans would shout yes, but at 30 plus hours, I'm good, movin' on...
I can see why this '86 book is considered a standard in the post apocalyptic horror genre, holds up okay, in '86 was probably considered original, but I kept envisioning Mad Max and the steam-punk type characters. I definitely should have stayed away from the whole genre--but a barrage of 5* reviews?! I think enthusiastic listeners overrated this one. The Good vs. Evil, the vague religious references and symbolism, seemed worn and cliched, the horror element campy. A great post apocalyptic read from the past for the more
I can understand a dark post-apocalyptic novel full of characters who, say, kill over a bowl of soup because starvation is an understandable, human motivation. Other human motivations might include vengeance, depression, lust, greed, ect. As readers we intuitively understand these kinds of motivations even if we are repulsed by them.
The protagonists in this novel have no such motivations. They are one dimensional cartoon characters motivated by their pure goodness or badness. In their wanderings they meet one dimensional cartoon villains every one of which is an uber violent sadistic psychopath intent on inflicting violence and suffering for no other reason than they are evil. Good guys do good things and bad guys do bad things for no particular reason. Repeat. It's childish dribble that fails to capture even the barest sliver of humanity or human motivation. You might be able to get away with it in a video game but not in a novel or audiobook.
The writing is also best described as immature bordering on childish. For example, it's hard not to giggle when we are constantly bombarded with messages of the empty desolate landscape, and yet every house or shelter the characters walk into is already occupied. I'm not sure if they ever enter an empty house even if we later learn that every other house in the entire city is supposedly empty. Over and over so often you have to laugh. Childish.
Sometimes the writing quality hits like a bucket of cold water that snaps whatever illusion had been created. For example, in one action scene a 300+ pound man, described over and over as a giant, is in a fist fight. After he dodges a punch he-- get this-- ducks down, crawls between his opponents legs, gets up, and hits his opponent (who incidentally is of course a sadist) when he turns around. Trying to suddenly picture this inane action sequence jarred me completely out of the scene, and so on.
For the purposes of context, I am an avid audiobook listener who draws from all genres but am especially attracted to science fiction, some fantasy, and horror, so it's not like this was out of my realm. It's just poorly executed and simply childish. I am writing this review because I wish someone else had written it first so I wouldn't have wasted my time and money on it.
Based on the stellar reviews, I thought this would be a slam dunk. But the story is predictable, the pacing is very uneven, and the payoff doesn't match the build up.
Everything about this audiobook is absolutely amazing. The story is phenominal. From beginning to end I was completely riveted. The story flows easily from one place to another, through big events and small. And then there is the amazing tension for what is going to happen to the characters.
A big part of that is the naration by Tom Stechschulte. He does a such a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. He gives the each their own voice and through this you really get to know them and feel for them as old friends. You feel their joys and their sorrows as if they were your own. I laughed with them and cried for them.
What else can I say? Buy this book. Listen to it. You will not regret it.
I had never heard of Swan Song when I browsed the Audible Best Sellers catagory, but with all the wonderful reviews I downloaded it. I am so glad I did. In only 5 days I listened to 34 hours of untold intreige. Tom Stechschulte's narration is spellbinding, just unreal. A magical story that you never want to end.
Good story. McCammon has a wonderful writing style. I don't normally like detailed descriptions as so often it just interrupts the flow of the story for me. I can only say his writing feels "silky" to me. Wierd, but that's the only word that comes to mind. I can't stop listening to this book.
What makes this audio book so much more exciting, is the reader. Stechschulte is the best I've heard. I will look for his work for my future selections.
Scientist, artisan, anachronism
is it just me or does anyone see the similarity to The Stand, by Steve King?
this book is well written, yeah, but in each scene i can't stop thinking of the Stand. it's sooooo close to being the same plot. there's disaster that decimates human kind; an evil entity reminiscent of the Satan character in Christian mythology; there's an innocent with special powers that is on a quest; there is the foreshadowing of a clash between good and evil... it's the Stand 2 (or the Stand too).
maybe if you've never read the Stand you'll find this to be a fantastic yarn. Or maybe you like the Stand so much that you wish there was another... well this is for you. however, it just wasn't for me.
it is well written, and as far as I've listened to the tale it seems like a fine story. but i just cant get by the feeling of the rip-off. i had to stop at about 25%...
"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?
"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!
"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 !
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
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.
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!
"More of an Opera than a Song!"
When I got this book in a special offer I didn't expect too much from it despite the positive reviews. However, when I got round to listening to it my expectations were far exceeded. Sadly for me several of the existing reviews make many of the points that I would like to make. It is indeed very much like Stephen King's The Stand in many ways. The post-apocalypse setting, the fight between good and evil. It's also similar in the large cast of characters and the depth which the author gives to them. They stand out because they are drawn from all levels of achievement within our existing society. They carry the burdens of how current society treated them into this post-apocalyptic world and some discover the merits and strengths that were buried under its negative judgement.
It's a harsh book set in a harsh world but it carries messages of hope both on a personal and global level. You'll have to listen to it though to find out whether those slender seedlings of hope triumph over the brutal evil of a lawless world.
The narration is very impressive, particularly for a book of this length. As a result of the fine writing and the fitting rendition from Tom Stechschulte the length of the book is a positive without doubt.
Try this one, it has real quality.
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