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Devolution by Max Brooks #BookReview

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Devolution by Max Brooks book cover

Title: Devolution | Author: Max Brooks | Publisher: Del Rey | Pub. Date: 16th June 2020 | Pages: 320 | ISBN: 9781984826787 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Starred Review: Yes | Source: The publisher provided a copy for review consideration

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Devolution Review

Confession: despite having had a copy for over 10 years I still haven’t read ‘World War Z’. That might well change though, as I have read Max Brooks’ new novel ‘Devolution’ and it’s a lot of fun. This time Brooks casts the Bigfoot as his monster, rather than zombies. ‘World War Z’ was part of the undead renaissance of the 2000s, along with ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and the ‘Walking Dead’ comic. I’m not sure if there’s a wave of cryptozoology books and movies coming over the hill, but even if there isn’t, I’m sure ‘Devolution’ will be a success.

The setup is great. A remote, high-tech, eco-friendly community (Greenloop) set in the Northwest USA gets cut off from civilisation when a nearby volcano erupts. The small group of inhabitants work together to survive, pooling their resources as they await rescue. As the story unfolds it becomes clear they are not alone.

Like ‘World War Z’ it is an epistolary novel, with the story told through journal entries from the main character, Kate. These are supplemented with news reports and interviews with first responders. This mix allows Brooks to tell the story in a straightforward, linear fashion, whilst also giving him ample opportunities to throw in some heavy foreshadowing. He also gets the chance to include some interesting information about the Bigfoot/Sasquatch in folklore and popular culture.

What makes the book so entertaining is the mix of characters Brooks pits against the monsters. Kate is a believable 21st century heroine, competent but self-doubting. Her husband starts the book broken by stress following a business failure but gradually finds a role for himself as community handyman. The founders of Greenloop are an enjoyably arrogant couple whose self-assurance fades over time. Best of all is Kate’s immediate neighbour, Mostar, a kick ass older woman who has survived atrocities in Eastern Europe and is the first to realise what Greenloop’s inhabitants will need to do to survive.

I wasn’t sure how scary the Sasquatches would be, but they end up being great. A convincing, primal force of nature similar to the primitive tribe in Jack Ketchum’s ‘Off Season’ and ‘Offspring’. They make for an interesting monster and Brooks has fun matching them against his supposedly civilised modern Americans. This contrast between two worlds makes the book just deep enough to be interesting, without distracting from the thrills and spills the readers picked up the book for.

All this makes ‘Devolution’ a solidly entertaining horror novel. It’s gripping, funny at times and, at around 300 pages, the perfect length for a weekend read.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
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