You guys. You guys. Do you know how long it’s been since I finished a book? Thanks to the magical powers of the Internet, I can reasonably speculate. Two and a half months. I… I am literally convinced that the last time I went two and a half months without finishing a book, it was because I had never finished a book. Like, ever. Because I was still three or something.
If you have any questions about my job (which, to be clear, I had only just accepted when I started reading), I think all of the meaningful answers lie in the previous paragraph, and anything else I could say is just window dressing. But anyway, yes, I have read a book. It is Swan Song, by Robert McCammon. It is one of those apocalyptic nuclear war books from the ’80s, only it shares a lot more in common with The Stand than with the Deathlands books I’ve been reading lately (and may skip ahead to, since they go so well with camping and also I am about to be camping).
See, there’s a nuclear war, and then different people, like a bag lady and a quasi-pro wrestler and a Vietnam vet turned survivalist slumlord and the embodiment of evil and a girl named Swan who has an affinity with plants and may or may not be extremely relevant to the title of the book slowly start to shuffle their way across post-nuclear America toward one another for a dramatic showdown between good and evil. I liked it pretty okay, but if I had it to do over again, I would have been reading much shorter and faster books, so that I might have had a chance to enjoy this more when I eventually did read it. (Or, possibly if it was spread over two weeks instead of ten, vast flaws would have been revealed? There is no way to know!)
I of course liked the apocalypse sections, as always. The eventual post-apocalypse was saved from being too simplistically preachy by likable characters. The downside was that the majority of evil characters were too caricatured. If you tell me that a fourteen-year old boy is going to point an unloaded .357 at his dad’s head and pull the trigger several times as a joke, you can’t justify that by calling it foreshadowing. Not unless you plan to do something to make him nuanced and redeemable later. Otherwise, he was just a budding psychopath from the start, and that’s not a very interesting entrant into the armies of evil. But the good characters, yeah, pretty likable and maybe even two-dimensional in many cases. And of course there’s always that apocalypse.