A Cathartic SF Thriller: Chuck Wendig’s Wayward

Release Date: November 15, 2022
Series: Wanderers #2
Publisher:  Del Rey
Genre: Dystopian, Techno Thriller


“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.”

My Thoughts

Wayward was written, in fits and starts, during the pandemic, and it’s impossible not to see how the real world bled into the fictional one. Could Wendig have written it without the pandemic? Sure, of course. It would’ve been a great science fiction thriller with lots to say about the human condition. But this version of the story feels tangible and truthful. It doesn’t feel so much predictive like Wanderers did but more like a reckoning or a reconciliation. Like catharsis. Like understanding. It’s not just a story of what could be but of what was and is and is still to come.

To read the rest of my review, head over to Tor.com.

Available at bookshop.org (affiliate link)

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