****SPOILERS FOR DEVOLUTION BY MAX BROOKS****
I hope all of you are doing well and staying healthy. It has been quite awhile since I’ve had a proper weekly blog, which is a thing I say everytime that I write one of these things. Apologies for being gone so long. If you missed it, I published a quick Bulletin Board Post updating you all on where I’ve been and what’s going on. Go ahead and read that if you want to, but long story short I got really busy with life stuff. I was burnt out creatively and got super busy so I didn’t have a lot of time to write. That led me to having a month break from writing. Luckily I’ve had some stuff clear up and I have a little bit more time so I’m hoping to build a little momentum and return to a normal-ish schedule for publishing things on the website. Obviously I don’t want to make any promises, but that’s what I’m hoping for. Anyway, I’m happy to be back to writing and I want to talk about something I’ve read during the last few weeks, “ Devolution” by Max Brooks.
Now if you are a longtime reader of my stuff, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of “World War Z” which is probably Max Brooks’ most famous novel. World War Z is a novel I enjoy so much I listened to it as an audiobook, which I talked about in a Weekly Blog back in December. But I’m not here to talk about World War Z. I’m here to talk about Max Brooks’ most recent novel, “Devolution.” Obviously my love of World War Z and Max Brooks’ writing brought me to getting Devolution even though I didn’t really know what it was about. “What is Devolution?” I hear you ask. Well let me tell you.
“Devolution” actually has a long subheading which I didn’t include in the title of this weekly blog. The entire title of the book is Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. That’s right. Sasquatch AKA Bigfoot. The story of Devolution is told to us the reader mostly through a firsthand journal of a woman named Kate who moves with her husband to a new, green, high-tech community called Greenloop. This eco-community is made up of six smart houses which are the most advanced, green technology a person could buy. It’s an almost futuristic outpost not too far from Seattle and Mt. Rainer with only one road in and out and supplies are delivered by drones. Although this place seems like a paradise, everything great about being isolated from the business of the city, becomes a liability for the people at Greenloop. Mt. Rainer, the volcano not far from Seattle Washington, erupts covering a large part of the US in ash and causes mudslides that take out nearby roads. The people of Greenloop are completely cut off from the rest of the world and they are not prepared for that reality. They are truly stuck in nature without a way out. Then things get worse when the volcanic eruption causes a pack of Sasquatch to flee and run into the people of Greenloop. At first the people of Greenloop are too busy trying to figure out their current situation and how they are going to live. Keeping food in their bellies and the solar panels on their roofs clean are their only focus. It’s not until it’s too late that they actually see the creatures and understand how much danger they are in. A final confrontation breaks out between the group of Sasquatch and the humans of Greenloop. The fight is bloody but in the end, Kate and a few other villagers survive, but are not found when park rangers and help from the outside world actually arrives in Greenloop.
That’s the basic plot of the novel, but it’s told in an interesting way. Most of the information comes from Kate’s point of view. She writes in a journal which is addressed to her therapist. But the story reaches us, the reader, because a journalist publishes it for public consumption. These journal entries are paired with other interviews that the journalist conducts. These interviews are very similar to how information is presented in World War Z. The journalist interviews Kate’s brother to add additional information about Kate before and after this Sasquatch attack happens. The journalist also adds information from a Forest Ranger who led the search after the volcano’s eruption. Again, this reminds me a lot of World War Z where the story is told in parts. Devolution has a bit of a disjointed timeline in terms of storytelling, but I think it really works in this story. I haven’t made it abundantly clear so far, but I want to say that I really enjoyed this story. I think the writing is strong and the descriptions really drew me into the story. The book is not perfect, and I’ll talk about my issues in a moment, but overall I enjoyed it. I prefer the global perspective and long history tied with the deep world building of World War Z more, but Devolution is definitely good in its own way.
My biggest problem with Devolution is that it falls into a horror trope that mirrors something like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Jaws is a horror movie where the shark is a movie monster that terrorizes a local beach town. Due to technical limitations while filming and the fact that the shark robot malfunctioned constantly, Spielberg actually showed the shark very little in the movie. Most of the time the attacks happened from the shark’s point of view. Since the audience didn’t see the shark and instead watched the horror through the shark’s eyes, it added to the horror of the movie. The shark was scarier when you couldn’t see it. The fear of the unknown really adds to the scariness of the monster. That rings true for the Sasquatches in Devolution. This book is absolutely a horror novel and these Sasquatches serve a similar purpose. The Sasquatches are the scariest when they are hiding out in the woods, ready to hunt the people of Greenloop. When they emerge and are shown fully, some of that horror falls away and it weakens the creature’s effect on the reader. With that being said, I should note that I don’t read a lot of horror because horror scares the crap out of me. Maybe this type of thing happens a lot in horror books and I’m not aware of it. Also I don’t think the book would have been better if the Sasquatches never actually attacked. The monsters can’t hide in the shadows forever. There needs to be an all out clash. But I do think it could have been done better.
Overall I really enjoyed “Devolution” by Max Brooks and even though I would not put it on the same level of World War Z. Comparisons aside, Devolution shows how good Max Brooks is at telling a story with vivid details and exciting moments of horror. The unique way that Devolution is laid out really adds to the overall experience of reading it. I would definitely recommend reading this book if any of this sounds interesting to you. I gave you the overall plot synopsis, but there are a lot of details that I left out. It’s still worth reading all about the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.
Thank you so much for reading that Weekly Blog all about “Devolution” by Max Brooks. Hopefully you enjoyed my review of the book and got some insight into all the things I liked and disliked about the book. I don’t always publish these types of book reviews but in the past few months, I’ve done a few. So if you liked this Weekly Blog, I hope that you will Like this Weekly Blog. You can also leave comments down below talking about anything related to Devolution or this Weekly Blog. Have you read this book? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Do you agree with me that the horror elements fell flat near the end of the book? I’d love to hear any and all opinions you have in the comments down below. If you really liked this Weekly Blog and want to see more stuff like it, I highly recommend that you Follow me here on WordPress. I’m trying to build a positive and creative space on the internet and I’d love for you to be a part of that community if you don’t already follow me. I really appreciate all the people who read my stuff and show me support, especially when I don’t publish anything new for weeks at a time. All the love and support really makes my day/week/month/year. So thank you all for the support. I really appreciate it.
Thank you again for reading the stuff I write and I hope you have a wonderful week!
Header Photo Credit to Devolution’s Wikipedia Page