GoodReads Summary: Swan is a nine-year-old Idaho girl following her struggling mother from one trailer park to the next when she receives visions of doom—something far wider than the narrow scope of her own beleaguered life. In a blinding flash, nuclear bombs annihilate civilization, leaving only a few buried survivors to crawl onto a scorched landscape that was once America.
I'm a sucker for disaster movies, so it could be that a disaster book (would also pick my attention. And it did, in a way.
There is this huge disaster of nuclear bombs falling over US and Russia, and a few survivors have to take care of themselves. All set for a good story, but things get in the way of it.
For example, the girl in the title (and summary): It could be interesting to explore how someone so young would be a survivor in a place completely destroyed, but she shows some special powers that are never explained -- and no, it was not the radiation from the bombs, a là Marvel super-heroes.
There is the bag lady in a quest that may be the only story that really fits the context: A survivor of the streets, now trying to survive in the rumble of civilization.
And there is the plot from the people who got shelter in a made-up bunker, which should be used only for recreation purposes ("This is how you'd live if this was a real bunker and there was a nuclear strike outside") that got caught in the middle, which should be a good exploration, but end up being the story that could be ripped out of the whole with very little loss. And sadly, that's not just this plot that gets unnecessary stuff: Fights that lead to nowhere, longs explanation of clothing people are wearing that affect absolutely nothing in the whole and on and on.
On top of that, there is a MacGuffin device floating around that is never explained how it works, how it came to be, it's used once, in a test, providing a complete game changer which is never used again after that.
So you end up with an unexplained phenomena (actually, more than one, as the story progressed), something interesting and a bunch of completely unnecessary stuff. I read somewhere that there were talks to make the book a movie, which would be hard for a 900+ book, but if you consider the amount of stuff that doesn't add anything, sure, it fits fine in an around-two-hours movie.