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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-25 21:13
Swan Song ★★★★☆
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Oh boy, was this a wild, fun ride-along with characters that I loved and characters that I loved to hate. There was plenty of explicit gore, some of which actually did make me cringe and stop for a bit. But there were some truly touching moments, too. Much like the post-apocalyptic world of this book, it’s not all darkness and cruelty and death, but also some hope and love and a tiny spark of belief in humanity.


It’s not quite a five star read, though, because I had to work pretty hard to suspend disbelief that 

a world in which a nuclear winter lasts for 7 or 8 years, where supposedly nothing can grow, not even weeds, and all plant life has died, seems unlikely to be able to sustain any life at all. Sure, most people starved and some could survive on the remnants of canned food or rats, but what would herbivores survive on? How did they keep that horse alive, if nothing was growing? If there are no herbivores left, did the carnivores/omnivores like rats and bobcats and wolves survive just on eating each other? If there are no plants, then a significant population of insects would go extinct, wouldn’t they? The disruption of the food chain seems unlikely to have allowed survival for that long a period of time.

(spoiler show)

 But this isn’t explained or even addressed, so I wondered and doubted, and that took something away from the story for me. Although it does strike me as funny that I didn’t have the same problem with 

people growing an entire warty coating on their heads with their faces beneath becoming something entirely different that reflects their true self/soul, or non-human creatures growing extra limbs and heads, or an inhuman creature who thrives on death and destruction and performs supernatural feats, or a girl who can magically make plants grow at an accelerated pace, etc.

(spoiler show)

 Why I should fixate on the

nuclear winter

(spoiler show)

thing, I don’t know.


Audiobook, purchased on sale from Audible. The performance by Tom Stechschulte was absolutely fantastic. I’ll look for other books read by him. Warning, though, this is a 34 ½ hour audiobook, so you have to really love audio to consume it in this format. It’s a LOT of listening.


Previous Updates:

7/17/17 – 2% 

7/18/17 – 9%

7/18/17 – 16%

7/19/17 – 23%

7/22/17 – 51%

7/25/17 – 97%


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review 2017-04-27 15:34
This Was a Hard One to Rate
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon

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. 

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review 2015-09-15 16:21
Swan Song review
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon

I have to begin this review by noting how busy life is for me at present. I say this not to big-note myself or brag, but simply to explain that my free time is about as precious as it has ever been. And as such I guard it jealously. So I've found myself reluctant to commit to reading epic novels the way I used to. I have to be fairly convinced the ones I opt for are going to be worth the proportionately scarce amount of time I have to read them.

All of which is to say, I did not love McCammon's Swan Song. To my mind it was a decent to good post-apocalyptic thriller with some horrific elements thrown into the mix. It was well-written and filled with detailed characters, and it probably would have been all the more powerful reading it upon release when the spectre of nuclear war loomed large over the world as a whole. (I even have a memory of my Year 7 teacher telling me that he would not be surprised if our city - the most isolated city in the world with a population of a million plus people - could be targeted by any of the nuclear superpowers as a "test" site for nuclear weapon effects if tensions escalated high enough ...)

But - and this, sadly, is a hugely significant but - Swan Song was not well-paced for mine. McCammon sweats on a number of small things, hammering them home repeatedly so the reader can not possibly fail to notice their importance. The powers of the "ring", for example, were established, re-established, and then re-re-established for good measure. At about the half way point, the book skips forwards seven years, and everything again slows to a crawl, as the major story lines are re-booted, often with numerous additional characters to get to know. Except I struggled to care for any of these add-ons, and just wanted McCammon to get to the convergence of the separate plot threads.

And though I generally appreciated McCammon's easy writing-style, I became frustrated with his character POV jumps within sections (sometimes from paragraph to paragraph!), as this has long been a pet writing hate of mine.

Character-wise, I truly appreciated Swan, Sister and Josh, but the "baddies" seemed cartoon-like, with none being worse than the being stalking Sister throughout her thread. Like a Marvel film, McCammon managed to set up an excellent cast of protagonists, only for them be let down by the less than stellar range of villains put before them. I was also less than thrilled by the ending for some of the characters, but that would stray into spoiler territory, so I won't go there. Not here on Booklikes.

In the end, Swan Song simply took too long to get where it was going and featured too many characters that did not resonate with me. As such, it fell short of being the great novel it was for many other people - even though I realise I'm in the vast minority with that view.

Now to find something short and punchy to consume in one sitting ...

3 Radioactive Wastelands for Swan Song.

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review 2014-12-04 00:00
Swan Song
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte I really liked this book. It took me a long time to finish it but I'm very happy that I stuck with it. And the narrator did a fantastic job.
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review 2014-12-04 00:00
Swan Song
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte I really liked this book. It took me a long time to finish it but I'm very happy that I stuck with it. And the narrator did a fantastic job.
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