Book Review: Devolution by Max Brooks (ALC)

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

Author: Max Brooks

Publication Date: 16 June 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Sci-fi Thriller

Length: 9 hours 45 minutes

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio

The #1 bestselling author of World War Z takes on the Bigfoot legend with a tale that blurs the lines between human and beast–and asks what we are capable of in the face of the unimaginable.

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.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.

This is the same author that wrote World War Z. After waiting so long, it seemed only natural to have high expectations of Devolution, but this book fell so flat. The premise was enticing, but the execution left much to be desired.

The eco-village of Greenloop is almost 2 hours from Seattle but has glorious views of Mt. Rainier. It’s the type of town that has the state of the art tech to make any city dweller comfortable with nature (e.g. deliveries once a week by drone, smart houses, eco-friendly vehicles, etc.). When Mt. Rainier erupts knocking out the only road to and from civilization and their internet, the residents of Greenloop quickly realize that they are completely cut off from society and must band together if they are to survive.

The story is told as a recount from Kate Holland’s journal entries, which was pulled from the blood wreckage of the Greenloop community. In these entries, Kate has documented everything from arriving to Greenloop to the eruption of Mt. Rainier to the attack of Sasquatch.

What I expected to be a high octane sci-fi thriller was definitely not. The first 50% or so of the book mainly focused on Greenloop and its residents, which I didn’t find particularly interesting. Katie is the type of person who constantly has a revelation about her privilege and her husband is just a piece of work. After the mountain erupts, it became a story of pettiness to survive. We saw people hoarding supplies and food as well as manipulating one another for their own personal gain.

It honestly wasn’t until the last 25% or so of the book when we actually had the gruesome showdown with the Sasquatch that I felt like we finally got the story that I was looking for because they were utterly terrifying. I wanted more of that throughout the story though and not just at the very end.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio and for providing an advanced listening copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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