Dear Chuck Wendig,
How did you do that? How did you take every gloomy, depressing, unnerving, alarming, confusing thing… all the things… that are in the news, that are reality and weave them into an 800 page narrative that I could not put down? How did you take the things we humans take great pains to avoid, if possible, and be indignantly outspoken about, when the mood suits us, and use them to tell a compelling, fascinating story of humanity forced to confront all the things we’d far rather ignore?
Maybe it’s better that I don’t know. Maybe then WANDERERS wouldn’t be quite as stunning as it is. And I am stunned.
In WANDERERS, humanity isn’t the good guy. And you wouldn’t think an epic novel with humanity as the unreliable main character would be appealing. Some of us probably far prefer to see ours as the great saviors of, well, of ourselves. Isn’t most of life saving us from ourselves, after all?
That’s what WANDERERS is. It’s a story of a flock of humans who seem to be sleepwalking across the country, and that makes it a story of America… warts and all. The gun culture, the racial prejudices, the religious evangelicalism, the gaping chasm of our two political parties, denials of climate change… it’s all there. But so are the non-warty parts of America. The way we band together in times of crisis, the way we stand up for each other in the face of the proverbial warts, the way we fight for the things that matter to us whether or not they matter to anyone else.
These things don’t often work well together, one always seems to be fighting a losing battle. And WANDERERS shows that hauntingly.
WANDERERS is a story of humanity – white and black, gay and straight, teenager and adult, man and woman, powerful and powerless, educated and everyday. All of those things are represented near flawlessly in this book, as they are represented in humanity. And they all become equals.
I learned things reading WANDERERS, something as important in works of fiction as in works of nonfiction. Some of the things I learned shocked me and some made me happy. They all made me think.
I think that maybe that’s the moral of WANDERERS – to make a reader think. Think about the stories we see in our feeds and timelines before scrolling to videos of adorable puppies barking at themselves in mirrors, the tl;dr things that are a part of life now – because they can be too long, too detailed, or too hard to face.
I follow the creator of this fantastic novel on Twitter so I know his politics, and his politics shows through in the book. That’s fine with me, because they’re my politics too. But it isn’t a book about politics, not really. It’s a book about current events, about life as we know it. It’s a book about what might happen if we don’t pay attention.
And, through all of that doom and gloom, WANDERERS is a book about hope, about courage, and about survival.
The moral of the story, if I had to pick just one, would be “get off your ass and fight for something, anything.”
So, in summary, I don’t know how you managed to pull all of this together so seamlessly, Chuck Wendig. But I don’t need an explanation. I just need this book, to read it again and again and to get other people to read it.
I am in awe and I am awed.
Thank you, Chuck Wendig, for writing this book so I could read it. Thank you.
(I received a copy of WANDERERS through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own.)