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CR3 #85: Swan Song by Robert McCammon

My favorite books and some of my favorite movies involve groups of very different people who are thrown together by circumstance and must work together to accomplish a goal (IT, 'Salem's Lot, The Stand, The Westing Game). It's particularly effective in post-apocalyptic scenarios, since it's up to the survivors to try and recreate society.

Swan Song has drawn many comparisons to The Stand, and it's easy to see why. Due to a world-wide catastrophe (nuclear holocaust, basically) society has collapsed. The climate has changed and nearly all the plants are dead. Those who survive are left wounded and sickened, some with hideous, tumorous growths. People will do anything to survive, including form large armies that travel across the country, pillaging and stealing anything they can. In this mess we find our main characters, which include Sister Creep, a homeless woman from New York city, Roland, a boy whose survivalist parents perish early in the process, Colonel Macklin, a Vietnam vet who finds himself in a hard spot again, "Black Frankenstein," a travelling semi-pro wrestler, and Swan, a young girl with magical abilities. All of them are criss-crossing the country until the time comes for them to meet up. Following them is "The Man With Many Face" who has nothing but trouble on his mind.

The characters in this book are great--even the secondary characters are vivid and memorable. The plot marches along at a good pace (though there were a few spots I found it a little draggy) and the descriptions are good. Although I didn't find the language as intriguing as King's The Stand (and the book therefore not as viscerally effecting), the ending was a hell of a lot better. It was a great book for those who a enjoy a good post-apocalypse fiction.

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