REVIEW: "Swan Song", by Robert McCammon

Title: Swan Song
Author: Robert McCammon
Narrator: Tom Stechschulte
Length: 34 hrs and 22 mins
Audible Release Date: 15th November 2011 (Paperback release: June 1st 1987)
Publisher: Audible, Inc.

Taken from Audible

"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.


How is it that this book has been off my radar for so long!? Seriously. I love epic, post-apocalyptic tales of survival and so this book should have been on my list from the moment of its release. Okay... maybe not that far back as I was two years old when it was originally released. No. This book was so good that even then I should have had it on my wishlist. 

This book is a must read if you are a fan of Stephen King's
The Stand or Justin Cronin's The Passage. I happen to be a huge fan of both and Swan Song is a bit like the love-child of these works. 

It has a whole bunch in common with
The Stand. The survivors of the apocalypse (which takes the form of a nuclear strike instead of a government-engineered plague) fall into two camps of Good vs Evil. There's a "dark man" figure who is decidedly evocative of King's Randall Flagg, and there are many religious undercurrents to the narrative. 

King's work was first published in '78 so it pre-dates
Swan Song. Even though the argument  could be made that McCammon's work is derivative, I actually don't care. I see it more as one great piece of fiction inspiring another. While King's work is definitely superior, McCammon's story is still a wonderful read. Whole bunches of books have been inspired by great predecessors, and just because they don't measure up to them, doesn't mean they can't be great in their own right. 

McCammon's protagonists were well-drawn and 
likeable. His antagonists were deliciously dislikeable in a fashion that was again reminiscent of King. The young Roland was a particular favourite of mine. He was as mad as a hatter and I loved every evil inch of the narrative that followed him. 

Another favourite character was Sister. She begins the book as a raving homeless woman on the streets of New York, but the nuclear catastrophe shocks her sane. One of the reasons I've always been drawn to post-apocalyptic stories is because such an event would offer every survivor a clean slate to work with. This clean slate allows Sister's soul to shine and I loved the underlying message of her character development. 

Swan, the young heroine of the book, had a lot in common with Amy, the young protagonist of Cronin's
The Passage. She was a little girl with strange powers who developed throughout the book into a beautiful young woman who held the fate of the world in her hands. I liked Amy so I also liked Swan!

I guess there was a lot about this book which reminded me of other books, and I know that's not necessarily a good thing. However, in this case I honestly enjoyed every aspect of the book. The situation was gripping, the characters were realistic and the premise was epic. This is one of those books that I'd recommend to people after they'd read and loved
The Stand. It's not as good as that, but it's damned decent as a follow-up read! A fab not-so-little read! 

1 comment:

  1. What a great review! I have never heard of this book- but it sounds excellent. I love Stephen Kinf- and this seems like a book I could really get into. Thanks for sharing. :)


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