A review by __apf__
Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig


(Please don’t read this book. My review will save you several long hours of your life.)

“Wanderers” tells the story of a disease that threatens to wipe out all of humankind. It shows society’s reaction: chaos, breakdown, and a bid for survival in the face of human frailty. It’s set in a thinly veiled version of 2019 America, with political tension, racism, technology, and climate change as major themes. At times, the book feels like an unimaginative anti-Republican lecture. The mysteries within the book kept me going to the finish — 800 pages! — but the end brought relief, as if I’d completed a chore.

Why read this book:
— You are in the future, and you want to understand what Americans were afraid of in 2019. This book offers a comprehensive illustration of those fears.
— The series of mysteries are intriguing enough that I didn’t stop reading. I wanted to know how it ended.

Why not read this book:
— The core story did not need 800 pages. All suspense wears off by the time you get to the action and twists at the end. “Wanderers” would have been better with some ruthless editing.
— The “bad” people are caricatures of rural Republicans. They’re racist, gun-obsessed bullies and rapists. They’re gauche. The most powerful among them control the rest of the population with biased news. The author really lays it on thick. I may be a true blue California Democrat, but I have no patience for an 800-page anti-Republican screed. It’s boring, unimaginative, and I’d much rather read a book with complex and semi-sympathetic villains.
— One of the major romances in the book is...terribly written. Out of nowhere, suddenly two major characters are screwing and saying “I love you.” The romance fills two plot holes, but the author doesn’t do much to convince the reader of the romance.
— The book heavily features an “Artificial Intelligence” with godlike characteristics, accompanied by a programmer who doesn’t seem to know anything about programming. I could forgive this if the book introduced a new angle on powerful technology, but “Wanderers” doesn’t have anything new to say about machines as gods.

n.b. “Afterwar” and “Wanderers” share much in common: an American civil war in the near future, reflecting Trump-era anxiety. Between the two, “Afterwar” is a MUCH better book.