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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Devolution by Max Brooks

I’m a huge fan of Max Brooks, especially World War Z, and was excited to see that he had put out a Bigfoot book. Yeah, I know that I’m late to the game, but this is the hazards of not regularly going into bookstores anymore. Not because I don’t want to but mostly because I can’t find them anymore! I suppose I could set up an Amazon alert for my favorite authors but that isn’t as much fun as scanning the shelves. Okay time to stop being an old guy and get to the reviewing.

The book is set up very similarly to World War Z in that it is presented as a series of interviews as our author is doing some investigative journalism into the loss of a small high-tech community called Greenloop. Basically this was a bunch of hippy electric car driving city people who wanted to live in harmony with nature. That means not keeping a lot of food depending instead on constant drone deliveries of groceries. In addition their power is all solar and their heat is from biofuel aka. their own poop. Get the picture?

When Mount Rainier erupts, this book is set in Washington state, the roads are cut and the internet goes down. This leaves Greenloop disconnected from the rest of the world, including their weekly food deliveries. Because of the disaster being so close to cities their small community is also not on the radar of the authorities and their rescue teams. But they aren’t alone in their isolation as a family of Bigfoot creatures are trapped with them! If that wasn’t spooky enough these large primates are very aggressive and when their normal food sources dry up the humans are on the menu! Of course being so green and progressive the inhabitants of Greenloop never thought to bring guns or any other weapon to protect themselves. Cue the carnage!

I’m not going to go any farther with my synopsis because to do so would spoil it. This is a fantastic book that is a breeze to read. The story unfolds quickly and starts to setup the creepy stuff right away. Brooks knows how to tease the reader just enough to keep your eyes on the page without getting to the payoff too quickly. That makes for a neat build up and a satisfying yet open ended resolution.

I thought the manner that Brooks told the story was very clever and similar to the equally great World War Z. The journal entries from Kate let us know what was happening in small community which is important since it is quickly established that the authorities found the place abandoned. There are also interviews from her brother Frank, who feels guilty about letting his sister live in his place and has a crusade to find out what happened to her. It is thru this character that our author/journalist finds out about the place to begin with.

Then there is the park ranger who talks about the rumors and the history of the area as well as giving us the payoff of what they found when the rescue team finally arrived in Greenloop. There are also a few bits added in from other sources about the behavior of the creatures that serve to establish or tease what is about to happen in the next journal entry from Kate. This is such an excellent read I don’t know what else to say.

Devolution is a huge recommendation from me. My only warning is that it may grab you and keep you up way too late reading. I found myself doing the “just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed” argument. I read the book in two sittings only because I did have to eventually put it down so I got some sleep before work the next day… or rather later in the morning. If you like cryptid stories you will certainly want to check this one out.


Ó Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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