"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.
I rated the story three stars based on the entertainment factor, and the amount of listening time I got for my credit. However, I was tempted to go lower when considering many of the subtle and not-so-subtle undertones and failings of storytelling that bothered me while listening to this book.
To sum it up, this is very much a book written by a socially conservative Christian author with a lot of very traditional viewpoints. Don't get me wrong, that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However, in this case, aspects of the author's world view come out pretty strongly in several negative ways:
[Minor spoilers ahead]
1. Religion. The only religion represented or even mentioned within this book is Christianity. There isn't really any excuse for this when it comes to good writing and world-building, regardless of the author's beliefs.
2. Sex/Romance/Gender. The only instances of sex within the entire many-year-long post-apocalyptic story are rape and/or heavily coerced prostitution (almost all of which is treated flippantly). The only gay character is a pedophile, rapist, and murderer. Every good character is basically chaste throughout the book.
3. Race. It got very tiring to hear every black character described as the "black man" or the "black woman" almost every time they were referenced regardless of how familiar the reader was with them. Whereas anyone described as "a teenager" or "a woman" or "an old man" was assumed to be white. Also there's a good dose of moderately offensive accents. The "best" character is blond-haired blue-eyed girl. A lot of this stuff is arguably somewhat excusable as the book was written almost 25 years ago, but even knowing that, a fair amount of it was uncomfortable.
At best, these attitudes made the book seem shallow and immature, as entire aspects of the human experience were missing - within a book about the human experience. Some omissions or simplified story might make more sense if the book were geared toward a younger audience, but large parts of the book hit fairly hard in dealing with abject despair and obscenely disturbing characters and events, which seems to go against that idea.
On the whole, I got some entertainment value out of this book, but I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone I know. In the future, I'll be more careful in reading reviews and paying attention to publication dates before spending my money.
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.
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.
I found this book meandering and frustrating.
I've tried three times to listen to this book. I always get 2-3 hours into it and just can't stand it any more. I'm left with the impression that this is a really bad attempt to weave together a political - scientific thriller with elements of horror and the supernatural, somewhat like Stephen King's The Stand. Unfortunately, I find it a D-rate effort. I've no feeling for the characters experiencing the 'supernatural' aspects of the story - possibly because they only exist to further that part of the plot. If they had been introduced as 'normal' people who then, during the course of events, experience the unexplainable in the midst of a catastrophic nuclear war, they might be interesting. I ended up just wanting to skip any section of the narrative that dealt with these people.
The multiple story-lines also failed - to me - to come together into a whole. It was like this was two or three books mushed together with an attempt to tie them into a cohesive narrative.
I'll try to return this, but since the original purchase was last year, I don't know if I can.
Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins
It was fine. I think he tried to give a different voice to each of the many characters.
Swan - - Sister Creep and everyone she comes in contact with
I think I've said enough
One dimensional characters.
Annoyed with the Christian tone (only religion presented was Christianity).
Over-stereotyping race and gender (and what's up with the only gay character was a pedophile?)
Narrator did his best with what he had.
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
I loved how the story was always moving forward fast. No lulls.
He had fantastic voices and emotions, however, I did listen to it at 1.5 speed. I tried to listen at regular speed but his reading was too slow for my liking. It did not sound too funny at the faster speed.
There were quite a few; When brave Glory helped them when no one else would. When Killer, the small terrier, attacked people and animals that were far out of his league. He had the heart of a lion. Throughout most of the book, Mule, the horse, always took care of Swan.
Even though armageddon type books are not at all my taste, this book pulled me right in from the very beginning. I was so pleasantly surprised by this wonderful story, it really moved along fabulously and stayed interesting. There were many rich characters that were woven together beautifully throuout the story. I had a hard time putting it down. The only reason I purchased this book was because of all the great reviews. Thank you Audiblians for a great read.
More imagination. The plot was imaginative, but the characters were all super dumb.
Narrator could have tried to make them sound smarter. It sounded like a kids book when it wasn't supposed to be.
I like a long book. Good value, so I didn't feel it needed to be cut, just rewritten. It was turning into a long comic book.
I didn't understand what other reviewers meant by "cardboard characters". A little bit into the book I understood. I feel like the idea was good and if it were given to another writer it could have been something.
Nothing like "Lost" btw.
I tried so hard to finish it on a road trip, but preferred static radio stations instead.
this was an epic saga. nuclear war, fallout, mutants, good vs evil, super powers..what more could you want? Narrator does a phenomenal job, speaks with such emotion. Book terrified me at times left me feeling cold & empty. but then hopeful again. I won't spoil the ending but if you enjoy post-apocalyptic genre then you will love this.
"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 !
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.
"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!
"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!
"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.
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