5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting read about a depressing wasteland
This was the first book that I read by McCammon, and I wasn't dissapointed. It has over 900 pages but believe it or not the book never gets boring and it is an absolute page-turner all the way through. Thats a rarity in books nowadays especially for such a lengthy novel. The story is amazing once the reader gets halfway through. McCammon has to be one of the best authors...
Published on July 15 2004 by bond007
3.0 out of 5 stars Horror, not science fiction, but a good read
I am a fan of post-apocalyptic speculative fiction, but I generally prefer science fiction to horror or fantasy. With its heavey reliance on the supernatural and the gory, this book definitely falls into the horror category. But if you don't mind a little horror it's an entertaining tale, with several plot lines running simulataneously, some obvious, some less so...
Published on May 25 2004 by M. Fairchild
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5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting read about a depressing wasteland,
This was the first book that I read by McCammon, and I wasn't dissapointed. It has over 900 pages but believe it or not the book never gets boring and it is an absolute page-turner all the way through. Thats a rarity in books nowadays especially for such a lengthy novel. The story is amazing once the reader gets halfway through. McCammon has to be one of the best authors in terms of character development. He makes you visualize and care about most of the characters. There seemed to be a few questions remaining at the end of the book. Like the card of the Empress being mentioned throughout the book as an important thing. Then when Swan becomes the Empress with the crown she gets scared and never goes back to it. She seemed to be invincible with the crown, but it doesn't go into detail about it and I thought that was a critical aspect to the book. McCammon describes the scenery very well and sets up the depressing landscape throughout the book. He never explains who the villain really is. After reading the Stand I thought Swan Song was better because its such a riveting read. King's book has lapses in it and that never happens in this story. The villain in the Stand was far better. As good as McCammon is you still feel that he lacks the flair of other authors like Koontz and other popular ones. This book is character driven mostly and if you like that then read this one.
3.0 out of 5 stars Horror, not science fiction, but a good read,
I am a fan of post-apocalyptic speculative fiction, but I generally prefer science fiction to horror or fantasy. With its heavey reliance on the supernatural and the gory, this book definitely falls into the horror category. But if you don't mind a little horror it's an entertaining tale, with several plot lines running simulataneously, some obvious, some less so. Maybe the best part of the book is the chapter titles, which aren't displayed on the chapters themselves, only on the section pages - take the time to match them up with the chapters. I like more complex characterization than this book provides, too, but the people you will meet in these pages do have being - they are more than just cardboard cutouts. Decent, workmanlike prose, shrewd imaginative renderings of post-nuclear life, and good pacing are also pluses. Fans of McCammon will probably really love the book, and for the rest of us, it's a diverting way to spend a few evenings. But it's not one I'll come back to read again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding,
Don't be intimidated by the size of this book-you'll be 200 pages into this saga before you even know it. Infact, after 200 pages you'll be wishing that the book was twice as long. This is not a pageturner in the usual sense of the word; you'll find yourself curling up with this book and then you'll be sucked into a world that hopefully we'll never experience. Although people claim the book is outdated, the threat of a nuclear nightmare remains all too real, unfortunately. This is an astonishing saga and I am reluctant to compare it to his earlier masterpiece 'They Thirst',it's like comparing apples and oranges. But they are both terrific books in different ways.
My only 'complaint' is that the 'bad guy' is a little disappointing. Infact, he's very much like the villain in 'Mystery Walk': just some evil force lurking around the next corner-as if he were created for the sole purpose of being bad. In my opinion, Roland is a much scarier bad guy than 'the devil' or whatever he is. Anyway, there's no doubt that I'll be reading this book again, perhaps 10 years from now.
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic Fears,
There are many post-apocalyptic tales out there, most of them too familiar, most of them feeling like they are one and the same. It seems that the topic has been touched upon so many times that it lost its ability to terrify or shock the reader. Upon re-reading McCammon's Swan Song, I was comforted to realize that the book has stood the test of time and that this story is still very much terrifying and effective.
An evil force has turned the earth into a deadland after a series of nuclear attacks. Very few have survived, and many of the ones who have lost their good sense during the ordeal.
The novel follows the story of three groups of survivors, which will eventually meet in the end for the novel's bloody finale. First, we find Josh, an ex-wrestler, and Swan, a young girl with the power of life. Then, we have Sister, a bag lady who finds a second life after the big bang, and the men who follow her in her trek to find the young girl. And finally, we have Roland, a young boy who's soul is dark and thirsty for blood. McCammon has found an amazing way to differentiate his "good" characters from the "evil" one, a technique I will let you discover by yourself.
Swan tries to put the life back into the earth, but many people try to stop her from creating life. Roland forms and army that seeks destruction, while that evil force wants to see both Sister and Swan dead.
The ordeals these characters go through will instill enough nightmares in you to last you a lifetime. Although the novel is lengthy (nearly 1000 pages), it remains a very fast read that you won't want to put down. This story is very original and very effective. Whenever you think the story will bring you in one direction, it veers and takes a completely different one. There are many surprises in Swan Song, some pleasant, but many of them dark.
I'm surprised that this one never find the same level of success as King's The Stand. Although the topic and tone are similar, the stories are as different as night and day. In McCammon's story, the lead characters are few, and you get to know them fairly well by the end of the novel.
And the book's final moment? Well, let's just say that the nail-biting suspense will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning. This is a horror classic that needs to be discovered and rediscovered by all.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have ever read,
Most of the United States is wiped out after a nucleur holocaust. The Devil aka "Man With The Scarlet Eye" sees this as his opportunity to take over the world. However, there is a special girl named Swan with extraordinary powers that is standing in his way. "Swan Song" takes the reader on a ten year journey that follows the war of Swan and others around her, fighting against the Devil and his followers.
The first thing that I would like to get out of the way is that I absolutely hate to read. However, a friend of mine told me how great this book was, so I decided to come on Amazon to check out what others thought of it. I was amazed when I discovered that it received nothing but 5 star reviews. To put all that positive feedback to the test, I decided to give in and read the book. The book is over 950 pages long and I read it in just over two days. I was spellbound with just how great this book was. "Swan Song" is the only book that I have ever read, that I wanted to read more than once. The different settings, the outstanding characters, and the overall suspense and terror make it an epic masterpiece. The book reads at an extremely fast pace and the 956 pages fly by. This is one of the rare occasions that you end up begging for more after a novel of that size. The different settings that McCammon illustrates are incredible. All add a background of suspense, courage, love, and terror. The size of the story is great because it spawns over 10 years, and you get to see the characters develop not only in age, but in personality as well.
McCammon has the story unfold like a chess match between The Devil and God. They each have their respective pieces, and the board is the United States. God's main pieces are Swan, a courageous bag lady named Sister Creep, and a professional wrestler named Josh. Swan is amazing with her display of power and love. Sister Creep is the story's main hero with her courage and determination to never give up. Josh survives with Swan and becomes her guardian. The love that he shows for Swan never dies, and he posseses super human strength and a big heart. The Devil's main pieces are - the psychotic Army Col Macklin and his protege' Roland Kroniger. Macklin and Roland are the two lone survivors of an underground army camp. Macklin takes Roland under his wing, and the two fight to build an army based society with them giving the orders. The Devil himself is a great character who will terrify you with his actions and array of different powers. The book offers many other memorable characters that all possess cetain strengths and different personalities that make them all enjoyable.
So take it from a guy who hates to read. If I was able to make my way through this book and love every minute of it, anyone can. Many readers become hesitant to take on a book of this size or magnitude. Don't be, because it will be the best time that you ever spend on a novel.
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular post nuclear apocalypse novel,
I am a fan of the post-apocalypse-survival-band type novels, and this is one of the best written ones out there. McCammons characters are fully fleshed out and complete, his vision of the desolated terrain and the behavior patterns of those who survive are terrifyingly realistic.
There is Sister Creep, a bag lady with a tragic past who escapes immediate death by sleeping deep under the subway tunnels of NYC. Young Swan Prescott, only nine years old, on the run from another 'uncle' in her mother's life, who has an uncanny knack for growing plants. She survives the initial blasts in a dirt cellar out back of a run down country store called Paw Paws.
Roland Croninger survives because he and his parents are vacationing in the one and only survivalist vacation facility called Earth House, which turns out to be not all it was cracked up to be. Colonel James (Jimbo) Macklin, in charge of Earth House, a man with a demon in his head called The Shadow Soldier who he listens to more than his conscience.
Josh Hutchins, a giant of a man on his way to a wrestling match in Garden City when he meets Swan in Paw Paws cellar. And The Man Who Liked Movies, who has many other names.
Others join them as they search for a place where they can build a life, some beautifully good and others diabolically evil. Strange things happen along the way as they encounter other bands of survivors and ultimately fight the evil that wants to take over and kill Swan. There is a glass crown filled with jewels which gives off a shining light when held in the right hands, there is a mysterious growth that covers the faces of some but not of others, and always there is the menace of The Man Who Liked Movies. The action is non-stop, and when the good collides with the bad they all find themselves in a horrifying deja-vu situation.
One of McCammons strongest points as one of my favorite writers is his characterizations. He has the ability to bring the people fully to life and stir your emotions to either love or hate them. I believe that Swan Song is his crowning achievement, a definite must for those who enjoy the End Of The World stories. This one is worth full price; pick it up and ENJOY!
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Song Review,
This book has been unequaled in my experience of having read the classics with much hunger and pleasure in my earlier years. McCammon has penned a book with popular appeal while impacting with classic brilliance. The book has the underlying meaning one can find in books such as Lord Of The Flies, the wonderful character development of Steinbeck, with the fast paced read and popular appeal of King.
This very physically "heavy" novel had me turning the pages slowly at the end so as not to say farewell to the characters and world I had disappeared into the past week.
I have tried to explain to my son, whom unfortunately does not have the love of reading I do, that "a good book is like a movie in your head". This one goes beyond mere imagination and places you not just in your head, but in the pages.
I won't go into what the book is about as that has been done well in other reviews. I will say however, you won't be disappointed in committing the time to this large book. The beginning and the end wrap up this book giving the reader that wonderful feeling of resolution and closure not often accomplished with larger novels.
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands the test of time,
I first read Swan Song when it was released back in the 80s. I remember loving it then, but I never realized how much of this epic I had forgotten until I recently re-read it. Amazing! McCammon creates a believable nuclear holocaust and provides just the right visuals with his descriptions of the barren, destroyed, or mutated landscapes and animals, of people gone crazy or blood-hungry, and of once just regular, unnoticeable people who evolve into heroes and monsters.
This is not a quick read (my paperback is 956 pages long), but I was amazed to find that I couldn't put it down; I kept reading, and once I got to the end, I really wanted more story. McCammon really hits a homerun with this book because I love the story, the writing, the characters, and the classic theme of good vs. evil. The book really stands the test of time because the issues are as relevant today as they were nearly 20 years ago.
Comparisons with Stephen King's The Stand are inevitable. There are similar themes and characters in each book. Yet this one stands on its own--I think an earlier review credited Swan Song with giving King his idea for The Stand, but unless I'm totally wrong, King's book was released nearly a decade before Swan Song. Yes, the books are somewhat similar, but each one tells a unique, dynamic story, and Swan Song is nothing short of phenomenal. I only wish that McCammon would relent and put out a sequel because I'd love to find out what happens to Swan, Robin, Josh, Aaron, Glory and the legacy of Sister, and I definitely want more of The Man of Many Faces! Great characters, exceptional writing--what more could you want?
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Another Comparison haha!,
This was the first McCammon book I've read years agom and it got me hooked. The story starts out with a nuclear attack on the U.S. What a way to hook readers. In post apolocolyptic America servral bands of survivors struggle to rebuild if not the country at least their own lives amd reconstruct some kind of community. At the heart of the GOOD group is a little girl ( who the readers are, as long as they have a heart, very much rooting for and enjoying watching her grow in the novel.) The forces of evil hunt her because she has power to restore life to the damaged dead earth which supplies the tension and suspense of this incredibly touching, novel.
McCammon writes his story beuatifully, with almost lyrical prose a he describes post-apocolyptic America and I bet most readers are with me about genuinely caring what happens to the characters. However my one critique (other than length which is non-issue because it really doesn't seem that long.) is the (not another comparison haha) fact that the themes and plot almost too closely mirror the Stand which I believe is not only King's best novel but the best novel in the genre. So I had to give this excellent dark fantasy/horror tale 4 instead of 5 stars due to that. However slight lack of originality doesn't diminish one's overall enjoyment of this excellent book.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Epic,
Swan Song is an amazing piece of fiction, one that somehow manages to stay engrossing throughout each of its 900+ pages. McCammon expertly draws us into a world mixed with hope and despair. It's a story that embraces the power of togetherness and provides a dark look at man's violent nature.
The first hundred pages are tense, but sadly dated. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the setup of nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. seems outdated. Plus, this was written before the age of the Internet and cell phones. Ironically, the loss of these technological luxuries would almost make McCammon's post-apocalypse world seem even bleaker.
But once the explosions end, the destroyed land that is walked upon could be a frightening reality regardless of the date.
The book is an epic look at the struggle between the good and the evil among all of us. There are three major storylines that will eventually interconnect, and each one is filled with realistic, fully developed characters. We can sympathize with their feelings, even if we occasionally question their behavior or even resent them for what they do.
Every character has flaws and weaknesses. Even the most evil characters have feelings and emotions deep within. And the good characters aren't all perfect and pure. There is a genuine sense of tension and terror that surrounds them all. And that makes the supernatural aspects of the book all the more effective.
There are truly emotional moments throughout the book. There are scenes that are simply beautiful and touching. And there are scenes that are devastating in their brutality. It is a book that will captivate you and make you feel the joys and horrors of the characters.
What is equally impressive is the ending. What I would hate most would be to invest so much of my time in a book this size only to come to an unfulfilling conclusion. The final chapters of Swan Song provide a fitting end to the story and hit their mark perfectly without getting sappy, over-sentimental, or over-the-top.
This is a remarkable book, and a must read for any fan of the genre. I highly recommend spending the time and immersing yourself into McCammon's stark and eye-opening world.
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Swan Song by Robert McCammon (Paperback - Nov. 10 2009)
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