Reviews for Devolution

by Max Brooks

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Imagine being stranded, and rescue attempts have been cut off. Imagine using technology so frequently that it is taken for granted, until there is no access to it. Imagine an unforeseen natural disaster unleashing a ravenous host of powerful predators on unsuspecting and unarmed neighborhoods. In Brooks' latest, reminiscent of his popular best-seller, World War Z (2006), he documents a terrifyingly realistic survival encounter using first-person interviews interspersed with journal entries recorded by a woman as she experiences events. The introduction, accompanied by a hand-drawn map of an isolated, high-tech ecocommunity in Washington, sets the stage for a bloody confrontation between a small group of humans and creatures previously believed to exist only in folklore. The escalating alarm of naive people preparing to face a curiously intelligent terror from the woods is related straightforwardly even as the beasts come howling in through the front door. The footnoted text and references to historical incidents of catastrophic failure, some fairly recent, give insight into weaknesses humanity blithely ignores every day. The story is told in such a compelling manner that horror fans will want to believe and, perhaps, take the warning to heart.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Say you're Max Brooks, and you've run across a news item titled "Bigfoot Destroys Town," which mentions journals detailing a terrible rampage in an upbeat-techie Pacific Northwest town after the eruption of Mt. Rainier shutters it from the world. Say there's intimations of a two-footed beast storming about, scaring even the wildlife. Say the ranger who found the bloody remains of the town's citizens is persuaded. Now you know the premise of mega-best-selling World War Z author Brooks's fact-and-fiction mashup reinventing the Bigfoot legend.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Brooks, back with his first novel since his seminal World War Z, employs a similar style here, but the scope—and resulting terror—is significantly more concentrated and immediate. The narrative is framed as an investigation by Brooks into what transpired in the isolated, high-end, high-tech fictional "eco-community" of Greenloop, WA, after Mount Rainier suddenly erupted. The brother of a woman whose journal was found after the disastrous events reaches out to narrator Brooks, asking him to look into the journal's claims of the residents' demise at the hands of a hungry Sasquatch clan. Piecing together the journal with interviews, transcripts, newspaper clippings, and historical documents, Brooks crafts a terrifying tale that reads like a "true" crime novel. Set in the very near future, with stellar worldbuilding, a claustrophobic atmosphere, an inclusive and fascinating cast of characters, and plenty of bloody action, this inventive story will keep readers' heart rates high. VERDICT Brooks's creative and well-executed conceit will have readers searching Wikipedia to look up names and events, even the parts they know are not based on reality. An obvious choice for Bigfoot fans, also suggest this to readers who enjoyed Alma Katsu's The Hunger and those who appreciate nonfiction survival stories such as Hampton Sides's In the Kingdom of Ice.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Imagine being stranded, and rescue attempts have been cut off. Imagine using technology so frequently that it is taken for granted, until there is no access to it. Imagine an unforeseen natural disaster unleashing a ravenous host of powerful predators on unsuspecting and unarmed neighborhoods. In Brooks' latest, reminiscent of his popular best-seller, World War Z (2006), he documents a terrifyingly realistic survival encounter using first-person interviews interspersed with journal entries recorded by a woman as she experiences events. The introduction, accompanied by a hand-drawn map of an isolated, high-tech ecocommunity in Washington, sets the stage for a bloody confrontation between a small group of humans and creatures previously believed to exist only in folklore. The escalating alarm of naive people preparing to face a curiously intelligent terror from the woods is related straightforwardly even as the beasts come howling in through the front door. The footnoted text and references to historical incidents of catastrophic failure, some fairly recent, give insight into weaknesses humanity blithely ignores every day. The story is told in such a compelling manner that horror fans will want to believe and, perhaps, take the warning to heart.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006). A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene. A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Brooks (World War Z) spins a substantial and suspenseful case for the existence of Bigfoot in this thriller, told via diary entries, news transcripts, and Brooks’s own research. Kate Holland hopes to boost her failing marriage by moving to the small, sustainable community of Greenloop deep in the middle of nowhere, Washington State. When nearby Mount Rainier erupts, the disaster cuts off Greenloop from the rest of civilization. The community’s hopes of survival hinge on Mostar, a mysterious resident with impressive survival skills. Trapped with the people are incredibly strong, primordial Sasquatches. The hungry creatures know how to use the land to their advantage and have no intention of sharing with the humans. Brooks creates vivid landscapes and has a gift for shifting focus in an instant, turning lovely nature scenes suddenly menacing. Brooks packs his plot with action, information, and atmosphere, and captures both the foibles and the heroism of his characters. This slow-burning page-turner will appeal to Brooks’s devoted fans and speculative fiction readers who enjoy tales of monsters. (May)

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