"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 gave up after about 8 hours. This is almost identical to The Stand, only really weak. The cliches of the magic Negro and The Chosen One, to name just a few here, are so generic that it's hard to take the book seriously. The supernatural elements are perfunctory. But I think the main reason I decided life was too short to finish this is that I didn't care about any of the characters and the writing is business-like with no genuine sense of wonder about the apocalypse.
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%...
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.
The story and the narrator merged perfectly, and both the story and the narrator were brilliant.
The story was brilliant and the characters were so unusual. It was quite a different world, but I got sucked into it and it wasn't a struggle to adjust to this world. I listened to it doing work around the house and I did loads of work as I didn't want to turn off the book.
Well, no I couldn't, due to the length of it and I also wanted some time to absorb what had happened between listens.
Well worth a read. It's fast paced and exciting. It's an action driven book which makes the 40 or so hours zip along.
This book is one you'll remember. The tale licks along at a lively pace and adventure is gripping. There is a bigger picture of representations of good, evil, temptation, redemption and forgiveness if you are wanting deeper meaning, but the narrative drive was sufficient to keep me riveted. I hadn't realised this was a book I'd read ages ago, and thought I'd enjoy it anew and would have forgotten much of, but it must have meant more to me than most books, as I'd remembered it clearly. That still didn't stop me from enjoying it. There is something more that the reader gains from a book heard, where you can't skip bits when you get excited to find out what happens next.
"A timeless classic"
Absolutely. It's huge so you get a lot of entertainment for your credit. The book runs at a good pace and in the early stages could easily be three different novels. The narrator is fantastic and the book well produced.
Colonel Macklin. "Discipline and control"
Hard to choose, but the authors descriptions of being on the ground during - and just after - a nuclear attack were extremely vivid.
Lots, but wouldn't want to spoil anything.
It's the kind of book that makes you want to immediately find more like it once you've finished it.
I've read this book (books) once in my younger days, and in Norwegian. I really enjoyed to listen to it in English, and although I sort of remembered how it ended it was still a good listening experience. As always when a book captures me, I can't fins enough excuses to listen to it.
"A fun, gory supernatural apocalyptic thriller!"
Having come to McCammon's work through his other famous book, Boy's Life, I was initially quite surprised at the style of this earlier work. Where Boy's Life is quite a slow, ponderous, almost literary work, Swan Song gets in your face from chapter one and doesn't let up.
Initially I found it rather overbearing to the point of silliness. No character ever has an everyday expression here, they all have to wear contorted grimaces of pain, masks of writhing agony and clench-jawed steely gazes while their eyes pop and sweat beads down their faces.
However once I'd got used to the idea that this was going to be a gory, over-the-top tale with zero to offer in the ways of subtlety, I started to really enjoy it.
The story moves on at a good pace with a large cast of interesting, if shallow characters. Interesting situations continue to present themselves and the plot bulldozes on right through to the final chapter, always holding your interest. It's very well read... acted actually. The narrator really throws himself into all the roles, matching the material's over-the-top tone perfectly.
Great fun, great value (34 hours audiobook!) and a great tale!
"Fantastic value for a credit"
I was looking for a nice long audiobook to get maximum value out of my credit. How lucky I was that Swan Song fullfilled this, and was an absolute blast into the bargain. A fantastic plot, rich characters, and spectacularly diverse narration. Thoroughly recommend.
"I nearly gave up"
As a previous reviewer said 'Nasty, brutish and much too long"
I do tend to agree, I nearly gave up more than once, but I perservered and yes it does 'reach a state of redemption'.
Eventually the tone became more positive and after being with them so long I identified with the characters and was glad in the end that I finished the journey.
It is not giving too much away to say that Swan Song is about the horror of the aftermath of a nuclear war. But it is also about the hope of finding humanity once again amid so much horror. The story is told very well, and it is experienced through the eyes of several small groups of characters, who each have their own part in the tale.
The narrator’s ability to express emotion, such as pathos, in his voice is excellent, so whether the character he is portraying is male or female, he is accomplished at making the listener feel what the character is feeling. He is especially good at imparting an elegiac tone to his telling of the story, which is exactly suitable for a story about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.
I found the story an excellent one to listen too, as it is not too complex, but it is gripping. I also found the action scenes, of which there are many, to be very well portrayed.
It is an enthralling listen and I thoroughly recommend it.
"Nasty, brutish and much too long"
This book does reach a state of redemption but only after a long and rather nasty series of incidents not unlike your average zombie film. Not one for the "must read again" list.
"i wish i'd never started this book"
i was expecting a serton level of violance suffering and hardship, but this book although a gripping and insightful story was just to much for me. i felt there was a sick emphasis on the inhumain treatment and suffering on babies and small children, as a new mother i couldn't handle it and couldn't finish the book, so i think if you have a strong stomach go for it, if not stay well away from this book.
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