Wanderers

A Novel
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman, Xe Sands
Length: 32 hrs and 22 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,593 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes "a magnum opus...a story about survival that’s not just about you and me, but all of us, together" (Kirkus Reviews starred review).

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post • NPR • The Dallas Morning NewsKirkus ReviewsPublishers WeeklyLibrary Journal • Polygon

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon, they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other "shepherds" who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them - and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them - the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart - or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Praise for Wanderers

"This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"A suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic." (Harlan Coben, number one New York Times best-selling author of Run Away)

"A true tour de force." (Erin Morgenstern, New York Times best-selling author of The Night Circus)

"A masterpiece with prose as sharp and heartbreaking as Station Eleven." (Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M)

"A magnum opus.... It reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand - but dare I say, this story is even better." (James Rollins, number one New York Times best-selling author of Crucible)

"An inventive, fierce, uncompromising, stay-up-way-past-bedtime masterwork." (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World)

"An American epic for these times." (Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year)

©2019 Chuck Wendig (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Wanderers is amazing - huge, current, both broad and intensely personal, blending the contemplative apocalypse of Station Eleven with the compulsive readability of the best thrillers." (Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series)

"Chuck Wendig’s latest, Wanderers, is a magnum opus of both storytelling and prose, epic in scope, yet told with an intimacy that hooked me from the first page. It reminded me of a technological version of Stephen King’s The Stand - but dare I say, this is even better: a postapocalyptic horror story that bares the best and worst of humanity in all its rawest forms. Don’t miss this tour de force. It left me awed." (James Rollins, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Crucible)

"With Wanderers, Chuck Wendig levels up - and when you consider the high level he was already writing at, that's saying something." (John Scalzi, New York Times best-selling author of The Consuming Fire)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    853
  • 4 Stars
    399
  • 3 Stars
    194
  • 2 Stars
    71
  • 1 Stars
    76

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    953
  • 4 Stars
    340
  • 3 Stars
    149
  • 2 Stars
    49
  • 1 Stars
    32

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    800
  • 4 Stars
    373
  • 3 Stars
    184
  • 2 Stars
    85
  • 1 Stars
    77

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Recommended, with some issues

Wanderers wants to be a 21st-century rendition of Stephen King's THE STAND: an epic story of American societal collapse and survival in the face of a deadly epidemic. Sometimes, it succeeds: the scope of the story and the twists of the plot are top-notch, and it's certainly a good page-turner. There's no question I enjoyed this book, and if you need an engaging and well-researched read about how our troubled world could collapse, WANDERERS is easy to recommend.

So why only 3 stars Overall and for Performance? Mostly to give potential readers some perspective in between the absolutely gushing reviews and the 1-star haters on this site. So now that I've recommended this read, here are the reason WANDERERS is not perfect and might not be for you:

1) LENGTH: This is a marathon of a book in audio or print, and I can't shake the feeling that it needed another 80–100 pages of squishing in order to keep the plot moving. Wendig knows how to tell a good story, so the pacing is generally pretty quick. Still, every character had several internal monologues where I was saying "OK, I get it," as I wished the author would move on to the rest of the action. This brings me to my next quibble...

2) CHARACTERS: As an epic-in-scope story, WANDERERS has a LOT of main characters who get to command narrative attention and tone in their chapters. Some of them you will like a lot. Others you will dislike, but understand. And still others will make you ask: "Wait, why are you doing that? What's motivating you to think that's a good idea?" I've read enough novels to know I don't have to love or identify with all the characters to enjoy the story, but WANDERERS at times had me puzzled why certain characters behaved the way they did. At worst, it feels like they're acting to advance the plot or just do oddball funny things to lighten the novel's tone rather than behaving in a believable manner. Perhaps this will not bother a less critical reader, but it irked me.

3) POLITICS: If you've ever peeked at Wendig's Twitter feed, you know he's an outspoken progressive—and personally, I agree with him on a ton of levels. My issue here is not that I disagree with his rather bleak view of modern conservatism, but rather that there's not a lot of nuance in how he depicts the American political divide in this book. Outspoken conservatives in this book inevitably end up on the side of monsters, and those sympathetic to such views get co-opted by the monsters and suffer horribly as a result. This won't be a problem for many liberal-minded readers, but where I got hung up was how essentially every character has internal monologues that stop the action to reflect on their political leanings at some point in the story. At worst, these moments feel like the author is signalling us "Don't worry, this character is a liberal" in order to get us to like them. Perhaps this is an inevitable land-mine for a novel set in 2019 America, but I feel like the author is going to irritate or distract a lot of readers by constantly bringing politics into a story that doesn't always require it.

4) PERFORMANCE: There's a pretty marked contrast in acting ability between the two narrators. While Dominic Hoffman has a pleasant voice, he cannot do a British or Irish accent to save his life. What's more, his narration can sometimes become stilted when switching between characters during dialog. Xe Sands is generally better across the board at reading the sections narrated by the female characters, as she empathizes with the characters with more skill. These VO issues don't cripple the book, but I wish the producers had gotten two 5-star voice actors instead of one great voice and one okay voice.

5) SEXUAL VIOLENCE: There's one episode of rape in this book that is both graphic and unexpected, as the character perpetuating it doesn't give much warning that he's capable of this kind of sexual violence in this moment. While it may or may not belong in the story, I found it shocking when it occurred and kept wondering if it was really necessary to the plot. Other readers may not arrive at the same judgment, but I note this here as a trigger warning for anyone who knows they'll be bothered by this kind of content.

CONCLUSION:
WANDERERS is a good, long book that I enjoyed. I felt bothered enough by its imperfections to write this review. I hope this helps you decide if this novel will be up your alley or not.

184 people found this helpful

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

A worthy read

Apocalyptic novels are written to explore morality, existence and meaning. At their best, they teach philosophy, religion and ethics while being deeply entertained. The Wanderers”, is the high water mark of the genre. It considers AI, racism, global warming, love, life and death and without being preachy reveals the tenuous position our world is in.

Beyond all that, it was great to listen to. The pace might be too slow for some. But for those who love to be immersed into a story, you won’t do better than this.

14 people found this helpful

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

Rare thing

I’m 11 chapters in and I can’t stop listening to this book. It’s thoroughly engaging. The science is fascinating. I really want to know why the sleepwalking is happening. I’m enjoying the heck out of this book.

35 people found this helpful

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

Disappointing.

The narration keeps you listening (both Dominic Hoffman and Xe Sands are outstanding!), but the storyline keeps you fast forwarding with endless descriptions, repetitions, and superflous information. I honestly skipped about 6 hours total, and always knew what was going on. The writing is brilliant in some places, with interesting and unique metaphors, but sadly more often it's mediocre. The characters are like just screen shots of actual persons. They're bland, showing emotion, but in an weirdly stunted ways, like they are AI and programmed to be human, instead of honestly being human. I'd be WAY more mad in some of the circumstances they faced, and they're just kind of ticked-off and oddly detached. The story line is regurgitated from many influencers. Stephen King's "The Stand" is even referenced in the dialogue "This is just like The Stand." Indeed. Even the title is out of sync with the book - the "flock" or "black swan" or even the "shepherds" would be better chosen. This is the only book I've listened to that makes me want an abridged edition.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

interesting

I struggled wth finishing this book, which rarely happens to me. I liked a few characters in the book but that is the only good thing I can say. I usually find redeeming qualities, not this time. 90 + chapters of liberal propaganda, hate smeared CNN talking points, dang near killed me. If you hate white Christians, if you hate all white, southern males because every single one must be a racist white supremacist, you hate police or military, hate God or dont believe, are mostly against guns.. but a bit on the fence, enjoy male on male rape and love constant cussing this book is for you. The rest of the rational, reasonable readers or non politicals.... keep looking.
I shouldnt know, and dont want or need to know authors political affiliations. It had potential...

5 people found this helpful

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

Maybe if Philip K Dick had written The Stand....

Wow. Intense. A couple intensely dark chapters (e.g. Chapter 50). The story also has a certain level of predictability, seemingly of intentional design, which allows Wendig to throw some PKD-ish twists into the plot that you just don’t see coming. There are s few similarities to Stephen King’s “The Stand”, but end result is more like what might have been if King, Phillip K. Dick, and Wm Gibson had collaborated for one incredible kick-ass story.

The performances by Hoffman and Sands were very good as well. Sands in particular, does an exceptional job bringing through the character in the female protagonist’s voice.

Definitely recommend.

8 people found this helpful

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

Incredible Story and Immersive Narration

The audiobook for Wanderers is over 32 hours long and now that I'm done listening I wish I had made it last longer. The story Chuck Wendig tells here takes so many twists and turns I have a hard time describing it to other people. Post apocalyptic, global pandemic, the fall of society, the exploration of machine intelligence, the human connections we make in times of crisis. The setting is so believable I found myself washing my hands more frequently and having to pause so I could remind myself the world wasn't going to shit outside my door.

The use of two narrators alternating between the male and female POV characters created an incredibly immersive experience as well. Do not be afraid of the 32 hour listen time - it is time well spent and expertly narrated!

7 people found this helpful

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

Mixed feelings

I had a hard time figuring out how to rate this book.

On the one hand, the underlying story is pretty interesting, but it has a number of elements that really dragged it down.

1. There are a few scenes of egregiously explicitly violent torture and rape. I literally almost returned the book on the spot after one such part. It’s like listening to a Hostel movie. That said, it’s really only maybe 15 minutes worth over 30 hours.

2. The author injects his politics into the story in a way that, imo, drags down the book. One of the major themes is incredibly contemporary about what is clearly the worst Trump supporters. Despite most likely agreeing with the author politically in many ways, I found it really heavy-handed and lacking nuance. One of the characters is extremely obviously a Trump stand-in, and his supporters are basically comically evil.

6 people found this helpful

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

Such a captivating novel

Pretty sure my husband wants to divorce me because I was so wrapped up in this book that I ignored him for days on end! Very captivating and thrilling, and scarily accurate. Makes you wonder if this could ever happen.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Holy Smokes

This might be the most densely realized sci-fi I’ve ever read. The book is great, the ideas huge, and the characters so fully fleshed out that I had trouble realizing they weren’t real.

1 person found this helpful