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Swan Song by Robert McCammon
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Swan Song (edition 1987)

by Robert McCammon (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,702983,724 (4.15)2 / 134
In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets ... Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station ... and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels along Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan's gift. But the ancient force behind earth's devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself--Publisher's description.… (more)
Member:LindaCarmon
Title:Swan Song
Authors:Robert McCammon (Author)
Info:Pocket Books (1987), Edition: Reissue, 960 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Swan Song by Robert McCammon

  1. 100
    The Stand {1978} by Stephen King (jseger9000)
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  7. 01
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English (95)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
Real good book. But long, oh my god it was long. ( )
  Ciscomatic | Sep 26, 2020 |
So many of my friends absolutely love "Swan Song" and I felt badly that I did not love this book as much as they did.

I think most of my problems revolve around the fact that there are three separate mini-plots going on in this book before everything syncs up in the final couple of hundred pages (this book was a behemoth!) and I just was not feeling anything.

Maybe because I seriously doubt that after just a few years after a world wide nuclear event the sun would just come out one day and that people would be able to eat all of the food from the poisoned Earth. That is where the fantasy part comes into play though. So I had to turn my brain off a bit while reading and stopped saying that can't happen.

Also, I really loved the character of Josh. But Swan got on my nerves (I am so ashamed!). I hated the fact that everyone was so focused on keeping her safe they were putting themselves in danger and she stupidly a couple of times thought that turning herself over would be the best thing. And also that her talking was enough to get people to put down their weapons.

Maybe I am looking at this book way too much in the lens of the recent U.S. election when a smart capable woman was demonized. And I look at the character of Swan and think that in most cases she would have been hung as a witch and or ignored cause who is going to listen to what some girl says. I loved what McCammon was trying to do with this book, but like I said, maybe my own cynicism stopped me from just letting go and enjoying this book.

"Swan Song" is parts fantasy and I didn't really get the horror aspect of it. There is a character that comes along that I found absurdly pathetic. I think we were supposed to be scared of them. But for me, I was more scared of the human characters like Roland and Macklin who justified the things that they were doing. Even though I found them terrible. I still felt for them because you realize pretty early on that Roland was broken before the nuclear war and just went even more over the edge after it. Also can I say that I hated this character having the name of Roland. It made me think of Stephen King's "Gunslinger".

I thought the writing was good though. I liked the message that McCammon was trying to push a bit about how love and listening was more important than guns. And that a girl (young woman) could rise up to be the leader the world needed. I just feel bad that I didn't find it believable which says more about me than him.

“No man was ever prouder of a daughter than I am of you,” Josh whispered in her ear. “You’re going to do wonderful things, Swan. You’re going to set things right again, and long before you come back to Mary’s Rest ... I’ll hear your name from travelers, and they’ll say they know of a girl called Swan who’s grown up to be a beautiful woman. They’ll say she has hair like fire, and that she has the power of life inside her. And that’s what you must return to the earth, Swan. That’s what you must return to the earth.”

The flow was off the whole book though. The POV would switch between Josh/Swan, Roland/Macklin and then Sister and whoever she was running around with. By the end McCammon kept adding and disposing of characters left and right and I couldn't keep a lot of people straight. I teared up when we get to the scenes with Leona and Killer (the terrier) but after that I just stopped really engaging with any of the characters and just pushed myself to finish the book.

The ending leaves the world as we have come to know it in a new wave of reconciliation and rebuilding. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Maybe if I'd have read this one before I had read [b:The Stand|149267|The Stand|Stephen King|http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1213131305s/149267.jpg|1742269] or [b:Lucifer's Hammer|218467|Lucifer's Hammer|Larry Niven|http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1388268115s/218467.jpg|1842237], I might have given this a full five stars, but epic length and nuclear holocaust doesn't automatically make a perfect book.

However. If you like your dystopias full of a long buildup and full cast and a slow decline into being in the evil camp versus learning you're in the good camp, then I totally recommend this book to you. It's the journey more than anything else that makes this a good read.

And then there's also the cool tarot themes and actual inclusion of the tarot reads (and other twists) as well as a whole Christian metaphor springing up all over the place, including the horsemen of the apocalypse and even a huge dose of the resurrection of life, so we've got a pretty cool collection of fantastical elements. Especially Swan, herself, who's definitely magical. :) She's the Greater Mystery, after all, the renewal, the restoration of life. It's kinda sweet.

My main problem with this post-nuclear wasteland, however, is one that's been explored so very well in practically every other writer or game designer, (Thank you, Fallout) about the availability of food. Aside from a few big nods to farming, later on, I'd have thought that the acquisition of food might have taken on a bit more of a deadly turn. As it was, all these strangers sharing meals kicked me out of the book.

This is no [b:The Road|6288|The Road|Cormac McCarthy|http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1439197219s/6288.jpg|3355573]. It's Road lite. With a TON of people and PoVs. And a much heavier dose of magic over the realism. :)

And yet, it was quite enjoyable and it's long enough to satisfy anyone's craving for an immersive post-apocalyptic wasteland. :) Horror writers always make the most interesting SFs, imho. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
An interesting take on a nuclear apocalypse.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, where we see what actions were taken and what decisions were made by the people in charge that led to the nuclear exchange. Usually post apocalyptic books skip that entirely, so it was a refreshing change.

The story bounces around between several characters, so you get a good point of view from each side. Unlike some books that have a bunch of side stuff pushed in just to pad the story, this book doesn't. Everything is meant to advance the plot, even if it doesn't happen until 300 pages later.

Unfortunately despite the good, I couldn't rate the book 5 stars for a couple of reasons. The author introduces magic into the book, and it's hardly ever used, and then just by three characters, even though others show signs of being able to do so as well. Even when it is used, it is used sparingly. On top of that a fantastic magical artifact is created, and then hardly anything is done with it, nor is it's creation really explained. The author hints at plenty, but that's it. Either make it more important, or don't add it in at all.

Then on top of that the author sets the entire ending of the book up so it's not really an ending, and hints at a sequel that is never to come. Instead of a fantastic ending, we get a sub par ending that is reminiscent of 80s horror movies setting up for a possible sequel that never comes.

Despite all of that, it is still a book worth picking up. ( )
  tebyen | May 27, 2020 |
Wow, this book quickly took a turn I didn't see coming. First it's apocalypse, which is what I thought this was about (Post apocalypse with mutated things), even though the strange Lady ("Sister Creep") felt a bit strange right off the bat but hey, that's fine. Then suddenly: Peoples eyes burning out off their skulls while others closer to the nukes just get some blister. And then... Zombies!

It reads like a book written by a good author who was told be a 12 year old what to write about. "Nukes! And a crazy homeless Lady! And.. and a psycho-child! And a zombie!"

What a mess.. ( )
  dahoon | Mar 26, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert McCammonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morrill, RowenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stechschulte, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Sally, whose inside face is as beautiful as the one outside. We survived the comet!
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Once upon a time we had a love affair with fire, the president of the United States thought as the match that he'd just struck to light his pipe flared beneath his fingers.
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In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets ... Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station ... and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels along Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan's gift. But the ancient force behind earth's devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself--Publisher's description.

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