This is a Doorstopper of a book, but itís a doorstopper well spent. Setting, characters, and plot are very well-detailed, and while at times the Squick factor is uncomfortably high, itís rarely overdone or gratuitous. McCammon doesnít pull any punches, with the setting or the characters. The bad guys are (almost) all complete monsters, but theyíre unique monsters. Sister had to be my favorite character; sheís very complex, and has great Character Development throughout the story. Like The Stand, it has mystical elements woven through it, and not just The Man with the Scarlet Eye. The idea of the Jobís Mask is an interesting one, even if itís also squicky at times. While the two books are often compared, the similarities don't detract from the story at all. Other than a quasi-supernatural Big Bad, the only real thing they have in common is they're both post-apocalyptic novels that start just prior to The End Of The World As We Know It. And in Swan Song, it's a pretty Crapsack World already. While itís a good book, I would not recommend it for the easily nauseated. It is gross in places, and I do mean gross. Science has marched on when it comes to the long-term effects of nuclear winter, but the radiation poisoning itself is at times a little too realistic for comfort. Itís the kind of story that can leave you completely exhausted once youíre done with it, but thatís not a bad thing.
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