What if the apocalypse that befell the poor souls in The Stand was nuclear instead of viral in nature and the whole thing was written in a style more like Richard Matheson's than Stephen King's? Well, you'd probably have Swan Song.
Comparisons with the Stand are inevitable. Both are about the survivors of an apocalyptic event and both have a devil type figure walking around stirring things up. Swan Song doesn't have that final battle between good and evil thing going like the Stand did, although some of the events could be interpreted as such.
Swan, the title character, starts off as a little girl who's strangely good with plants before the bombs drop. As the story unfolds, she's joined by Black Frankenstein, aka Josh Hutchins, a professional wrestler. They're wandering, looking for other survivors. Josh has been tasked with protecting Swan and does his best. The other main protagonist is a former homeless woman called Sister, who has a glass ring with unusual abilities. Their paths eventually cross with the Army of Excellence, led by Colonel Macklin, an unhinged Vietnam war hero, and Roland Croninger, a young millitary enthusiast caught up in playing soldier for real. Throw in crazies like Lord Alvin and the ever-present Man with Many Faces and you've got a winner on your hands.
I'll just come out and say it: This book held my interest more than the Stand did. The style was much more gripping and I got attached to Sister, Josh, and Swan. I almost let a tear escape my eye at the end but fought it back.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who liked the Stand and other post-apocalypic stories.