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Customer Review

on 10 January 2014
I never write reviews for the items I purchase, but felt compelled to do so after stumbling upon the unjustly critical and suspiciously detail-free one star review beneath this one. The Wanderer is certainly not a dire story and in no way deserves 'a minus star review' as stated below. Please note that, as I did not have a Kindle enabled reader at the time, this review is based off of the physical copy of the book available from lulu.com.

The story follows a young man who finds himself alone after an unstoppable disease seemingly wipes out the entire population of his country and possibly the world. In order to keep himself busy the unnamed protagonist wanders endlessly around his deserted city, scared to move on and using the familiarity as some sort of buffer against insanity. The first half of the book follows the main character for a couple of days and we learn all about the daily routines he uses to stave off madness. These scenes are cleverly broken up by flashbacks covering the initial outbreak of the disease and how it devastated the boy's country and, more importantly for the narrative, his family and one particular school friend. There are some touching and powerful scenes in this half of the book and the boy's pain and suffering are brought expertly to life by the author.

The first section of the book is unusual in the fact that not one spoken word is contained with its pages. This might make the first fifty percent of the book sound like a chore but it is not. The author covers this lack of speech by being very descriptive and, while this may put some people off, I thoroughly enjoyed the vivid landscapes of a decaying and empty Britain (although location is never actually confirmed) that his prose conjured. We are taken on tours of ramshackle buildings, bleak city centres and through nature gone back to wilderness.

At the halfway point of the novel an event occurs that will change the boy's life for ever. I won't reveal explicitly what happens as it is a huge spoiler, but it changes the pace and tone of the story for the second half of the book. Finally our protagonist breaks his five year silence and we begin to learn more about him as a person and hear about his memories and experiences from a more personal viewpoint. Eventually the boy is forced to leave the comfort of his familiar surroundings, and we embark on a road trip through a terrifyingly empty and dead country. On numerous occasions our protagonist finds himself in trouble and we are treated to a more fast-paced tale as the story leads to its bittersweet climax.

Other reviewers have mentioned that the book is essentially split into two contrasting approaches at the halfway point and I must agree that, after the big reveal at the midway point, the pace of the story changes. I, however, found that the two differing sections complemented each other really well. The first half helps build a realistic picture of the struggles and challenges of everyday life after a cataclysmic event and the second half is more reminiscent of The Road (a book the author himself explains in the afterword influenced him heavily). This second part of the book allows the author to introduce various new unsavoury elements that he was unable to explore previously. I can see why some people would prefer one section to the other but neither is poorly done. Whether you like slow and descriptive or fast-paced and exciting, The Wanderer will have you covered.

The Wanderer seems to be self-published and I know this can deter certain people from taking a chance on a book. A lot of self-published fiction can seem rushed and be littered with grammatical and spelling errors and the formatting can be a mess but I am happy to report that I didn't find any standout errors within the pages of this book. There has obviously been a lot of effort put in to ensure this book is presented as professionally and as error free as possible which is commendable.

As a massive fan of post-apocalyptic and zombie film and literature I can admit to really enjoying this book. While it might not be to everyone's tastes one hundred percent of the time, I feel there is enough here to keep any 'end of the world aficionado' happy. In my opinion it does not warrant the slating offered by the previous reviewer and I think the other reviews for this title only strengthen that. The book is currently for sale at 99p and I think there are a million and one worse ways to spend a pound. If you enjoyed The Road, I am Legend or similar post-apocalyptic fare, then it might worth you checking out David Anderson's The Wanderer.
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