“If King had written a sequel to The Stand, it might look something like this monumental epic of a story.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of Bones
“As great as Wanderers was, Wayward is better.”—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones
Five years ago, ordinary Americans fell under the grip of a strange new malady that caused them to sleepwalk across the country to a destination only they knew. They were followed on their quest by the shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.
Their secret destination: Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of civilization. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was only the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world—and the birth of a new one.
The survivors, sleepwalkers and shepherds alike, have a dream of rebuilding human society. Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead the town; Marcy, the former police officer who wants only to look after the people she loves; and Shana, the teenage girl who became the first shepherd—and an unlikely hero whose courage will be needed again.
Because the people of Ouray are not the only survivors, and the world they are building is fragile. The forces of cruelty and brutality are amassing under the leadership of self-proclaimed president Ed Creel. And in the very heart of Ouray, the most powerful survivor of all is plotting its own vision for the new world: Black Swan, the A.I. who imagined the apocalypse.
Against these threats, Benji, Marcy, Shana, and the rest have only one hope: one another. Because the only way to survive the end of the world is together.
Wendig's sequel to 2019's Wanderers disappoints, with the sprawling postapocalyptic epic hobbled by heavy-handed political satire—at one point, U.S. President Ed Creel, a cartoonish Trump stand-in, fights with a man calling himself White Jesus—that overwhelms the more thoughtful elements of the plot. In an alternate present, a Hillary Clinton–like figure, President Nora Hunt, was assassinated during the 2020 White Mask pandemic, which killed millions. Creel then assumed power, but in the wake of the virus, his domain is initially limited to a Kansas bunker. Outside the bunker, those not killed by White Mask struggle to survive, among them former CDC epidemiologist Benji Ray, who is stunned to discover the disease's true origins. Other of the myriad plotlines feature Shana Stewart, whose pregnancy may give some sense of what future humanity can expect; violent political intrigue surrounding Creel; and Matthew Bird, a pastor trying to reconcile his faith with what he's learned about an über-powerful AI called Black Swan. There's not much that feels fresh; both the plot twists and the characters' inner journeys are predictable and familiar. This is best suited only for diehard fans of the previous volume.