Monday, November 26, 2012
When written in 1987, Swan Song was a horror novel, now it is more of a horrific alternate history. Set in a world where nuclear war has occurred, and the world is left in ruins.
The chapters revolved around three groups of survivors spread throughout the United States. We start out in New York City, where we meet a homeless woman known as Sister Creep. She survives the explosions by being in the subway system when the bombs hit. Shortly after the bombs have landed, Sister Creep encounters another survivor while looking for supplies. His name is Doyle Halland, a shoe salesman from Pittsburgh. They decide to make their way to Pittsburgh to find out if his wife survived. Neither thinks that she has survived, but it gives them a purpose and and goal.
Next we go to a survivalist compound inside Blue Dome Mountain, there we find a Vietnam vet who is the spokesman for the compound named Colonel James "Jimbo" Macklin. We also encounter a 13 year old boy named Roland Croninger who is upset that his parents dragged him here and he can't play his computer games. They have come for a visit before completely committing their money to help fund the construction of the shelter. They all become trapped when the concussion wave from a nearby missile causes most of the mountain to collapse.
The final group of survivors that we accompany through this devastated land are Swan, a young girl, and Josh Hutchins, a wrestler known as the "Black Frankenstein". They are thrown together when they are trapped in a basement trying to escape the fireball from the missiles launches. As they escape from the basement, Josh notices grass underneath the place where Swan slept.
The book is quite long, but you don't really notice this while you read. I can't think of any time where I wasn't eager to learn what would happen next. McCammon's descriptions were gritty and often harsh to match the setting and the story, but never grotesque for the sake of grotesqueness. One of the things that amazed me the most was that though the protagonist and antagonist don't encounter each other in chapter twenty-three, you never feel like the story is dragging.
If you are looking for an excellent, dramatic post-apocalyptic story this is an excellent choice.
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