Jessica Perez, THRIVE Director, is reading...

By: Chuck Wendig

Wanderers is a dystopian novel where people begin to suddenly develop a sleepwalking-like illness.  These individuals begin to all walk in the same direction, but no one knows why or seems to be able to stop them.  Though the major mystery of the novel is about figuring out what is causing the phenomenon, the greater story is about what happens around the sleepwalkers—both with their loved ones (who follow them along on their journey) and with how society responds.

I most enjoy sci-fi, dystopian stories for their world-building, fantasy quality.  As such, the premise of the story is captivating and keeps me turning the pages—which is essential with a book of almost 800 pages.  But the element of this book that stays with you, that is true of all great dystopian stories, is the way it reflects (problematic) human behavior.  Indeed, this book successfully hits a nerve because it is essentially set in present-day USA, with a few alterations. You see the way in which politicians use the crisis to further their own agendas, how media and social media shape people’s understanding of what is happening, and how everyday people respond in such different and sometimes extreme ways.

My criticisms of the book are that it can be momentarily preachy and characters aren’t always fully fleshed-out.  However, I can overlook that for the magnitude of the effort and the success it has in capturing the many layers of our current political and social climate in an entertaining (albeit unsettling) way.

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