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Wanderers
Cover of Wanderers
Wanderers
A Novel
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).
NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD
  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR
  • The GuardianKirkus Reviews Publishers Weekly Library 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, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away
    "A true tour de force."—Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling 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, #1 New York Times bestselling 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
  • 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).
    NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD
  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR
  • The GuardianKirkus Reviews Publishers Weekly Library 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, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away
    "A true tour de force."—Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling 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, #1 New York Times bestselling 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
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    • From the book 1

      THE FIRST SLEEPWALKER

      JUNE 3
      Maker's Bell, Pennsylvania

      Shana stood there looking at her little sister's empty bed, and her first thought was: Nessie ran away again.

      She called to her a few times. Honestly, after Nessie had stayed up late last night to watch the comet through Dad's shitty telescope, Shana figured the younger girl would still be in bed, snoring up little earthquakes. She wasn't sure where the hell else Nessie could be—Shana had been up for an hour already, making their lunches, finishing the laundry, putting the trash and recycling together so she could haul it up the long driveway for tomorrow's pickup. So she knew Nessie wasn't in the kitchen. Maybe she was in the upstairs bathroom.

      "Nessie?" She paused. Listened. "Nessie, c'mon."

      But nothing.

      Again the thought: Nessie ran away again.

      It didn't make much sense. First time Nessie ran away, that made sense.

      They'd just lost their mother—lost her in a very literal way. The four of them went to the grocery store, and only three of them came back. They feared Mom had been taken and hurt, but eventually security cameras from the Giant Eagle showed that nobody kidnapped her; she strolled out the automatic doors like nothing was wrong and then walked out of their lives for good. Mom became a big question mark stuck in their cheeks like a fish-hook.

      But it was clear that their mother didn't want to be a part of their lives anymore. That, Shana knew even then, had been a long time coming, but the realization did not hit Nessie—and still had not reached her, even now. Nessie believed then that it was Dad's fault. And maybe Shana's, too. So two years ago almost to the day, after school was done for the year, Nessie packed a backpack full of canned goods and bottled water (plus a couple of candy bars), and ran away.

      They found Nessie four hours later at the wooden bus shelter on Granger, hiding from a sudden rain squall. Shivering like a stray puppy. When Dad picked her up she kicked and thrashed, and it was like watching a wrestler try to pin a tornado. But then he gave up, said to her, "You want to run away, you run away, but if you're thinking of going after your mother, I don't think she wants to be found."

      It was like watching a glass of water tip in slow motion. Nessie collapsed in his arms and wept so hard she could only catch her breath in these keening, air-sucking hitches. Her shoulders shook and she pressed both hands under her armpits as if hugging herself. They got her home. She slept for two days and then, slowly but surely, came back to life.

      That was two years ago.

      Today, though, Shana could not gure out why Nessie would want to run away again. Girl was fifteen now and hadn't hit the wall like Shana had at that age—as Dad put it, Shana "went full teenager." Mopey and mad and hormones like a kicking horse. Shana was almost eighteen, now. She was better these days. Mostly.

      Nessie was still all right, hadn't turned into a werewolf. Still happy. Still optimistic. Eyes bright like new nickels. She had a little notebook, in which she wrote all the things she wanted to do (scuba dive with sharks, study bats, knit her own slippers like Mom-Mom used to do), all the places she wanted to go (Edinburgh, Tibet, San Diego), all the people she wanted to meet (the president, an astronaut, her future husband). She said to Shana one day, "I heard that if you complain it reprograms your brain like a computer virus and it just makes you more and more unhappy, so I'm going to stay positive because I bet the opposite is true, too."

      That notebook sat there on...
    About the Author-
    • Chuck Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and Zer0es/Invasive, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, an alum of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and served as the co-writer of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds, and books about writing such as Damn Fine Story. He lives in Pennsylvania with his family.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      Starred review from April 8, 2019
      Wendig (the Miriam Black series) pulls no punches in this blockbuster apocalyptic novel, which confronts some of the darkest and most divisive aspects of present-day America with urgency, humanity, and hope. The day after a comet blazes over the west coast of North America, Benji Ray, a disgraced former CDC epidemiologist, is summoned to meet Black Swan, a superintelligent computer designed to predict and prevent disasters, which has determined that Benji must treat an upcoming pandemic. That same morning, Shana wakes up to find her little sister, Nessie, sleepwalking down the driveway and off toward an unknown goal, one of a growing number of similar travelers who are unable to stop or to wake. Shana in turn becomes one of many shepherds, protecting the travelers from a crumbling American society that’s ravaged by fear, dogma, disease, and the effects of climate change, while Benji grapples with his daunting assignment and questions about Black Swan’s nature and agenda. Wendig challenges readers with twists and revelations that probe issues of faith and free will while crafting a fast-paced narrative with deeply real characters. His politics are unabashed—characters include a populist president brought to power by neo-Nazis, as well as murderous religious zealots—but not simplistic, and he tackles many moral questions while eschewing easy answers. This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand, easily rising above the many recent novels of pandemic and societal collapse. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary.

    • Kirkus

      Starred review from May 1, 2019
      What if the only way to save humanity was to lose almost everyone? This was kind of inevitable: Wendig (Vultures, 2019, etc.) wrestles with a magnum opus that grapples with culture, science, faith, and our collective anxiety while delivering an epic equal to Steven King's The Stand (1978). While it's not advertised as an entry in Wendig's horrifying Future Proof universe that includes Zer0es (2015) and Invasive (2016), it's the spiritual next step in the author's deconstruction of not only our culture, but the awful things that we--humanity--are capable of delivering with our current technology and terrible will. The setup is vividly cinematic: After a comet passes near Earth, a sleeping sickness takes hold, causing victims to start wandering in the same direction, barring those who spontaneously, um, explode. Simultaneously, a government-built, wickedly terrifying AI called Black Swan tells its minders that a disgraced scientist named Benji Ray might be the key to solving the mystery illness. Wendig breaks out a huge cast that includes Benji's boss, Sadie Emeka; a rock star who's a nod to King's Springsteen-esque Larry Underwood; a pair of sisters--one of whom is part of the "herd" of sleepwalkers and one who identifies as a "shepherd" tending to the sick; and Matthew Bird, who leads the faithful at God's Light Church and who struggles with a world in which technology itself can become either God or the devil incarnate. Anyone who's touched on Wendig's oeuvre, let alone his lively social media presence, knows he's a full-voiced political creature who's less concerned with left and right than the chasm between right and wrong, and that impulse is fully on display here. Parsing the plot isn't really critical--Wendig has stretched his considerable talents beyond the hyperkinetic horror that is his wheelhouse to deliver a story about survival that's not just about you and me, but all of us, together. Wendig is clearly wrestling with some of the demons of our time, resulting in a story that is ambitious, bold, and worthy of attention.

      COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    • Library Journal

      June 1, 2019

      When Comet Sakamoto passed over Earth, no one thought much about it. But the next morning, the sleepwalking began. At least it seemed like sleepwalking, as 18-year-old Shana discovers her little sister gone from her bed. However, those caught in this malady cannot be woken, and those who try to stop them experience horrifying consequences. As Shana follows her sister and the others who come together on the way, she emerges a "shepherd," along with other friends and family members, who watch over their loved ones on their unknown journey through America. In the meantime, the response across the country ranges from religious zealotry to endtimes fear, which may not be too far from reality. With the addition of a government AI called Black Swan, a disgraced scientist, a charged election, and a growing radical militia, this story of a search for answers and survival moves beyond political or moral choices to the light and dark in everyone's minds and hearts. VERDICT A powerful story about humanity, technology, and the survival of the world. Comparisons to Stephen King's The Stand are warranted, as Wendig (Zeroes) shatters the boundaries of speculative and literary fiction in a saga that will touch every reader. [See Prepub Alert, 1/23/19.]--Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

      Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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