Title: The Wandereres
Author: Chuck Wendig
Published: July 9, 2019 by Del Rey
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Goodreads Rating: 4.17
“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 are 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 on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens 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.”
Okay y’all, I know 800 pages sounds like a brick of a book but let me start this review by saying The Wanderers does not read like a 800 page book. I read the book in a week but probably would have read it faster if I didn’t have a job.
*So Many Spoilers & Plot Wreckers*
The Wanderers is told through multiple POV’s. We honestly get an inside look at motives, thought processes, and feelings for every main character in the book and occasionally for non-main characters as well. The extra level of depth this gives the book is fantastic but it also keeps you on your toes since the book jumps around from POV to POV every chapter. I love that.
The other thing I love is the amount of actual science and technical pieces of information were thrown into this book. I’m a project manager not a scientist so I couldn’t tell you if it actually made sense but it sounded good in the book.
The one thing I can talk about though is White Nose Syndrome which is found in Bats. Growing up I worked at a Cavern for 8ish years. Now this cave system is separate but next to another cave system known as the Bracken Bat Caves which houses the largest bat population in North America. My parents property actually happens to border the Bracken property so I tend to have a lot of random knowledge on bats, particularly related to the Bracken Bat Caves. Now, the caverns I worked at regularly partnered with the Bracken Bat Caves to offer tours to the public, where we would spend 3-4 hours talking about the Bracken Bat caves and eventually watch all the bats emerge from the cave for the evening. It’s a pretty cool sight and I have so many of these types of pictures from all of my days being a tour guide for the Bracken Bat Flights.
Anyway, White Nose Syndrome, which is talked about in the book is a very real thing and has wrecked havoc on bat colonies. It was first spotted in bat colonies in New York back in 2006 and in a nut shell it infects the bat while they are hibernating. Once infected most bats will wake from hibernation early which results in using up fat reserves and then starvation before spring arrives. Even before the infected bats start to wake though, infection with the fungus causes bats to use energy twice as fast as healthy bats which causes dehydration among other issues. It’s highly contagious among bats and while it currently doesn’t impact humans, the premise of Wendig’s novel is that the fungus has made the jump to infecting humans. In theory it’s believable because diseases do mutate but current evidence indicates that WNS is not transmissible from bats to humans. Studies have shown that the fungus grows only at cold temperatures (41-68 degrees F) that are much lower than that of the human body. So now that I’ve ruined that story line for you, make sure you’re not bringing clothing or gear into a WNS-free site that was previously used in a WNS-affected site. To learn more about WNS go HERE!
To ruin another piece of the story for you there is zero way an amusement park could be built even remotely near the Bracken Bat Caves.
- That whole area is protected. Bat Conservation International (BCI) initially purchased the Bracken Cave in 1991 and now owns nearly 1,500 acres of the former ranchland surrounding the cave. It’s also currently a nature preserve.
- There are small neighborhoods surrounding the preserve, I would know. I grew up in one of those neighborhoods.
- The area is part of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge zone and building limitations require much higher levels of regulations.
- The guy at the end of the book would never be allowed out there by himself, even if he was a researcher.
Once again I get the story line and it honestly makes for a super interesting plot. I have just been exposed to this area and know a bit about bats etc. to know that there are some plot holes. However, if you read the entirety of the book some of these get answered.
I do really love that Wendig is bringing some form of awareness to White Nose Syndrome though. It’s a pretty big killer of bats and since bats are so important to our ecosystem, I think it’s important for us to prevent and research into the impact WNS is having on our environment. And now that I ranted about that for way to long, back to a review of the actual book.
Ultimately this book is an apocalyptic story. Personally, I’m major terrified of the exact thing happening in this book, happening in real life. How easy would it be for a disease to simply kill off 99.9% of the human population? I think we forget how much disease and virus’ ravaged parts of the world through the centuries. The Black Death, Yellow Fever, even things like Measles and the Flu have consumed countless human lives. It blows my mind and scares me because we wouldn’t even know we were ‘under attack’. Also now I’m super worried about AI programs too.
Overall, if you like apocalyptic stories or even just a good book, I’d totally recommend The Wanderers. This is a 4.5 star book for me. Get it HERE!