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Publisher's Summary

“Fresh and surprising. Survivor Song may be one of Tremblay’s best - beautifully detailed, viscerally frightening, and deep with emotional resonance." (Dan Chaon, New York Times best-selling author of Ill Will)

A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government's emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola "Rams" Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-30s, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie's husband has been killed - viciously attacked by an infected neighbor - and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie's only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares - terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave listeners gripped throughout the audio and shake them to their core.

©2020 Paul Tremblay (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Survivor Song

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Don't believe the hype

As with every other Paul Tremblay novel I've read, "Survivor Song" has a strong opening and quickly fizzles into page after page of cliches. The prologue is easily one of the most tension-filled openers I've read in ages, but Tremblay quickly turns his MC into one of the most annoying characters. I also don't know why he needs to make everything cutesy, like "Rams" and "Nat" and "Dunks". Whatever momentum there was, Tremblay hits the brakes and the novel becomes tedious. VERY tedious. By the time the teenagers are introduced, I half hoped they just killed everyone and it would be over.

Tremblay is a good writer, but his stories are... lacking. This is one of his worst.

The narrator is fine. It's not her, it's the material. It's hard to not make the most annoying character written since Madame Bovary not sound like the human equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

16 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

More Potential Than Any Zombie Book I Ever Read

When I started reading this book I was amazed at how good it was. It was a different approach to a little different type of zombie. We were not getting the dystopian shoot em up book but a book about ordinary people living with the very beginning of the disease. However at the end that is also what ruined it. We have well-educated people that are basically dealing with zombies but instead of dealing with them rationally in the end by killing them instead to decide to treat them like people with cancer. The difference is the zombies are killing people and trying to kill them but even though they're intelligent they are just going to ignore that. The doctor and others also ignore the threats of the person she is helping to all the other people who are not infected. Then toward the end just a deluge of tin foil hat theories thrown in for some unknown purpose. I will return it and I won't be looking for a follow-up book. I would be interested in something different from the writer and narrator because I believe they both have lots of potential but the writer just didn't reach it in this book.

9 people found this helpful

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A Song To Forget

Save your credit or money!

The story is completely babble. It rambles on & the character Natalie is SO VERY ANNOYING! She babbles on & on talking on her phone app while leaving a message for her unborn baby!! Her voice is also extremely annoying! It actually got to the point I stopped listening. It's a bunch of junk to be completely honest.

The story aggravated me & the narrator just pissed me off!!! She was bad with accents & changing her voice pitch to do different characters! If she just kept her normal voice, maybe it wouldn't have been so annoying. It was like dealing with nails across a chalkboard!

The story, even after over 50% done STILL failed to get to any kind of point! POOR development & the characters are sad & lost in any kind of development. Did NOT hold my imagination, not my interest.

NO I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS STORY!!!
NO I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS NARRATOR!!

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Heart-breaking Horror

Just got my pre-ordered copy and listened to it straight through. Another tear-stained white-
knuckle visit to the Tremblayverse. Brilliant!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Doesn’t make sense

It also totally alienated those who don’t believe official narratives. Pretty let down by the story. Instead of it flowing the author tries too hard to be a wordsmith which just isn’t working with this story. The author also makes it seem like patriotic Americans are also all whack jobs. I certainly didn’t appreciate this aspect.

2 people found this helpful

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Dull YA Cash-In on the Zombie Craze

This section of the review contains MILD SPOILERS.

Before you read, please be aware that Survivor Song is a YA novel. It is written for teenagers. It is not a novel with adults in mind. Yes, there is profanity, and there is some gore, but every shred of nuance and complexity is stripped away until all you're left with is a simple story filled with characters that have less humanity than cartoons.

This is a novel (I'm not making this up) in which the villains are big, burly, bearded racists that go around murdering pets and pregnant women. Again, I am not making this up. The book has all the subtlety of a jack hammer.

This is a book in which all the main characters speak in the same cutesy, pop culture laden language. There are constant references to movies. At first, it just makes you roll your eyes. By the end of the book, the references become so overbearing that it's impossible to focus on the story. At its best, the dialogue in Survivor is sitcom level. At its worst (the Nats chapters), it is absolutely baffling. The characters talk as if they were twelve year olds as written by an old man who's never actually met a twelve year old. This goes for adult characters as well as actual teen characters. Again, it’s baffling.

Worse yet, while the characters and dialogue are written in an awkward, cutesy fashion, the story itself is super serious, the narrator pure melodrama. There is no room for interpretation. The good characters are achingly good, the bad characters fiendishly evil.

This is pure, turn-your-brain-off, overly-sentimental, overly-serious, nearing pretentious fluff. I had to struggle to finish and found the book improved greatly when I sped up the narration.

As for the narrator, she did what she could with the material. She’s not good here, but I don’t think there’s any narrator that could have salvaged this level of terrible dialogue and pretentious narration. Maybe someone with more edge, like a Kate Mulgrew, but I don’t even know if she could have saved this story.

Also, just a couple of thoughts regarding two large details of the story… MORE SPOILERS…

Early on, pregnant main character Natalie watches her husband murdered and is then bitten by an infected man. She is then told she will need an emergency C-section to get the child out asap, to ensure the baby’s survival. Her response to this is something like, "Sure, let's get the kiddo out."

My first child was an emergency c-section. My wife's response to the news when the doctor said he wanted to perform the emergency operation was sheer panic and fright. She was shaking and confused. I think I went pale and experienced a moment of shock.

My wife's friend also had an emergency c-section just days after my wife’s, and her and her husband's reaction was the same as ours, shock, confusion and some panic.

When a doctor tells you something like this, it is nearly impossible to process. Unless there were prior complications with the pregnancy, I doubt a woman will be mentally prepared for an emergency c-section. At no point in the book does Natalie ever mention that she practiced what to do in the case of an emergency c-section. Her reaction, to me, came across as completely bogus and fake. (Again, though, this is a book for teens, and I imagine this little detail won't bother them)

Side note -

The other gripe I had with the book was the interlude section. It's the only good part of the book. It's the only chunk where the author steps back and simply tells us what happens. No talk of people's feelings or constant interruptions to tell us about someone's past. The chapter is a bit silly, but has some weight. After listening to it, I had the feeling that this book started out as a short story consisting of just this chapter. Author showed it to his publisher or agent and then the publisher or agent suggested that he stretch out the story with the hopes of landing a show on the CW or a Netflix adaptation ala Bird Box. The interlude is the only section that doesn't feel like a YA novel. It feels original and painful, like an actual story brewing in a writer's head and not some cheap cash grab to jump on the never ending zombie craze.

I hate to sound cynical, but the vast majority of this book sounded like a cash-in. It was too simple, too lightweight, too straightforward to feel like it was anything other than a paycheck and a network pitch.




2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Very good!

I love scary, chilling stories that get my blood running and even though this was very well written and preformed, it wasn’t scary... & only reason I didn’t give 5/5. I’m just reserving that score for a book that is considered a favorite (Which I still yet to find) I would recommend this book, for sure. I would even recommend any of Paul Tremblay’s books (since I’ve heard them all) I think he uses the same performer for his audiobooks and I really like her, it’s more believable hearing a woman doing a males voice than the other way around. Though it may not be my “favorite “ per say, it is definitely a very good book!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A thrilling story

This is not a fairy tale. Certainly it is not one that has been sanitized, homogenized, or Disneyfied, bloodless in every possible sense of the word, beasts and human monsters defanged and claws clipped, the children safe and the children saved.

A virulent form of rabies turns people (and animals) into feral beasts. A pregnant woman, Nats, and her friend, Doctor Ramola (Rams), race against the time to get to the hospital. And that’s it. No world-spanning horrors, here. Instead, we get an intimate, fast-paced, and gripping story of two friends trying to get one of them to the hospital before it’s too late.

Although it sounds like one, it’s not a zombie book. Infected show symptoms associated with zombies (the urge to bite others), but their illness is curable. When not gut-punching readers, Tremblay pokes fun at the staples of the genre. And when he gut-punches readers, he shows no mercy.

High personal stakes make the story gripping. Intense narration (through Nats and Rams POVs) makes it compelling and layered - Rams and Nats’ chapters complement each other. The havoc that ensues the mass outbreak of a rage-inducing virus divides the community, maiming social safety nets, and diminishing the rule of law. Some use it for petty goals, others try to survive.

Natalie’s life depends on a dose of the rabies vaccine; she desperately needs it before she gives birth or succumbs to the illness. Chaos and outbreaks of violence turn getting from point A to B into a mission impossible. Seemingly banal complications (like car troubles) pile up. Coupled with time running out, they limit possible choices and force characters to make crushing decisions.

Readers caring for protagonists won’t mind a few shortcuts taken by the author. An emotionless look at the story will, however, show some preaching and the use of hackneyed stereotypes (camouflage wearing, racist militiamen - I’m not saying racism isn’t a problem but this take on it feels overused in fiction). Mundane obstacles revolve around meeting rabid animals and people, getting stuck in traffic jams, puking, or fighting. In other words, they’re not particularly inventive.

Because I loved the characters’ voices, I didn’t mind, but I feel I have to mention these potential issues to make the review fair. Both Natalie and Ramola are strong characters with enough backstory to flesh them without slowing down an action-driven tale of survival. The story is all about them and their reactions to adversity.

Survivor Song is an intensely personal drama that takes place over a few hours. The compressed timeline makes everything fervent. Mundane horrors and difficulties scare more than supernatural, when, despite the warning in the first paragraph, readers dare to hope for a happy ending.

Survivor Song has it all - eruptions of violence, personal stakes, and action. It’s gripping from the first page, never slows down, and delivers a powerful ending. Despite its bleakness, it’s surprisingly humane, filled with moments of poignancy, hope, and resilience. An excellent read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well Read ... Fast-Paced

From the start to the finish, this story set in a time of pandemic (not related to our current situation) moves at a fast pace right up until the end. You live the tension with the characters and you feel what they feel, especially Rams and Nats. Many similarities with what is really happening for a book written well before the current virus. Recommended !

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

No Heroes Here - Just Death

I loved this book. Like all of Paul Tremblay's books, he doesn't invest in a hero who sweeps into a horrible situation to save the day. This book is about ordinary people living through a zombie pandemic. They aren't heroes. In fact, I don't think there's a single gunshot in this book.

Instead, the protagonist is someone who cannot wrap her head around what is going on. Like a true human being, she constantly shifts through the Kubler-Ross 5-stages of grief, but only gets to acceptance once her fate is sealed.

Along the way, the hero and her co-protagonists make mistakes. They do stupid things that make perfect sense if zombies weren't real. Only in this book, they are.

It's a shining example of the bargaining and denial that permeates the human condition whenever it is faced with any sort of catastrophic, unthinkable event. It's why people argue about wearing masks and bring their AR-15s to the state capital to protest shutdowns. It's a realistic portrayal of how people cope without accepting the reality of the situation and a glimpse into the cognition of those characters that we as Zombie Fiction Fans love to hate.

1 person found this helpful