Wayward by Chuck Wendig
11/15/22; 816 pages
Random House Worlds
Wayward by Chuck Wendig is a highly recommended post-apocalypse sequel to his 2019's pandemic novel, Wanderers. Events in Wayward start in 2025.
In the Wanderers the "white
mask" fungus devastated the world's population. The shepherds Benji,
Marcy, and Shana helped the sleepwalkers cross the country to
Ouray, CO, where the AI known as Black Swan kept them safe. Now the
sleepwalkers are awake and the fungus threat mitigated, so the focus is
on how people are living in this new reality. Now it is 2025 survivors
Benji Ray, Shana Stewart, who is pregnant, Sheriff Marcy Reyes, and
pastor Matthew Bird are in Ouray working on rebuilding society while the
Black Swan threatens it. At the same time, Ed Creel, has assumed the
presidency and lives in a bunker in Kansas where he is planning to raise
an army to take over what is left of the world.
This novel takes a traditional format of a quest by a chosen few
heroes who, in this case, are setting out to save the world. While this
common plot formula makes some of the novel predictable, the world
building is terrific and imaginative. The characters are realistically
depicted and wonderfully portrayed. Along with the world building and
character development, one of the best aspects of the novel is the
glimmer of hope that the characters have in an impossible, challenging
At 800+ pages, there is some fortitude required to undertake the novel. The good news is that the plot and writing is interesting enough to keep you reading. Alternating between the point-of-view of several different characters, the chapters keep the narrative moving while providing context. The political satire ever present in the novel does becomes a bit much and the whole plot element involving Creel could have been reduced without harming the elements that are good in Wayward.
It would really behoove readers to read Wanderers first. Alas, I didn't and although a background was provided in the narrative, it really felt like it would have been so much better had I read Wanderers first and then Wayward.