Devolution by Max Brooks

Devolution by Max Brooks

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 27. Includes a map

Other Possible Prompts: 30. Audiobook is narrated by the author, 37. Set in a rural area

Well, that was fun. Not my favorite horror by a longshot, but just good enough to make it hard to sleep at night as I read it. The scenes of terror and the monstrous creatures that haunt the pages had me checking my door lock a few extra times than usual.

Devolution is told as a researched account of a volcanic eruption in Washington that brings a small green tech community called Greenloop a particularly terrifying problem. After the eruption, the extremely small community is cut off from communicating or leaving, no food, no internet…and while they are safe from the eruption, they’re not safe from what the eruption drove right toward them.

Kate Holland and her husband Dan had moved into Greenloop just a few days prior to the eruption, and now they are thrust into a story of survival both from themselves and the predators lurking just outside. Devolution is primarily told from Kate Holland’s perspective, as these are her recovered journal entries found at the abandoned Greenloop community months after Rainier’s eruption. Supported by articles, radio shows, and interviews with first responders, Kate’s story of the Rainier bigfoot massacre unfolds.

I could not have dragged this book out any longer: I started Devolution back in October and then kept putting aside, only to discover upon the release of The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge that it was my only book with a map in it – so I held on to it and waited to finish it in the new year. And here we are! I finished it mid-January but you won’t be reading this until February…I’m sure you’ve been dying to know when you’d finally get to read this very review! And I’m glad I finally got to it: I’m not sure if it was everything I wanted it to be, but for a horror novel about sasquatch, it kind of rocked. It was violent and gory, and deeply disturbing for the *hint* of humanity that plagued it.

The structure of this story and the way Brooks built it out adds more insight and horror to it that it definitely needed. Kate’s journals are the meat of the story, but the supporting interviews and information that accompany it inform the tale and our enemies. I loved the way it was set up, and I thought the audiobook, performed by a full cast, was impressive and interesting to listen to. That said, I didn’t love Kate’s perspective too too much at any given point in the story. Some parts were objective and important, but Kate’s character herself goes from one extreme to another throughout the story, and neither are enjoyable people. However, I think this change was really necessary to the conclusion, and I applaud Brooks for that transition through trauma. It was wildly interesting.

And actually, none of the characters were all that likeable. Even with my feelings about Kate, I think she was still my favorite (didn’t really realize it until I went to talk about these other characters!). The kinds of people that ended up in this Greenloop community all go from one extreme to another; as you meet them, they are mostly normal, likeable people, if not a little quirky and pompous, but devolve (pun intended!) into these angry, broken versions of themselves as the story goes on. So yes, you may not like the characters very much…but it illustrates Brooks’ point very well.

Also, while this is unrelated to the meat and potatoes of this review, I thought Greenloop’s community was an incredible idea and a wonderful work of the green imagination…until the isolation started. Greenloop is almost entirely self-sufficient, with solar power, methane gas based heating systems, each home specifically designed to harness the power of the earth. Their groceries would be delivered by electric drones and vans. They were hours from Seattle should they need the city, but the idea was that they had all their earthly comforts dropped into this idyllic PNW forest. I think something like this made widespread would be amazing for climate change and the planet, but Brooks’ interpretation doesn’t exactly make it sound desirable! What an interesting take on going off the grid, that hopefully doesn’t deter us from all doing the same down the line…since it definitely didn’t work out for Greenloop, lol.

I think that about does it. I don’t have a ton to say, mostly because I don’t want to ruin the plot for you! This was kind of a curveball, not entirely unexpected but much more intense than anticipated. I would definitely recommend Devolution; it’s not a super long read, but definitely don’t read it in on a camping trip! 😉

Have a great week friends!


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