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Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2020)
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.

286 pages, Hardcover

First published June 16, 2020

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About the author

Max Brooks

89 books6,512 followers
Max Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. He has been called ”the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism.“

Brooks is the son of director Mel Brooks and the late actress Anne Bancroft. He is a 1994 graduate of Pitzer College. His wife, Michelle, is a screenwriter, and the couple have a son, Henry.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,975 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,066 reviews38.1k followers
December 7, 2021
This is the worst choice of book to read when you’re quarantined, nervous, anxious, taking your most emotional support from great booze and stocked toilet papers (I’m cuddling them, that’s why people buy them so much, right? They are like white shapeless teddy bears and I recently tried them in a recipe: just mix them with almond milk, marshmallow and chocolate chips: my husband told me that was the best food I’ve ever fixed in my entire life)

Anyways, this is frightening, action packed, ominous, dark, wild, savage, disturbing ride! You gotta think again before deciding to read a book from World War Z’s author.
What we have so far: A big chaos in Pacific Northwest breaks out with the Mount Rainer’s eruption. So we’re introduced to Greenloop community consists of smart homes located in near Ranier Park, isolated from the society.
They just created their own safe, clear, highly tech quarantine place. But what was that howling sound coming from the woods? And those footprints cannot belong to a real human, can it? What the hell happened to those animals in the woods? Bloody, ugly, disgusting massacre start to terrify the small community. Maybe they’re not safe enough as they expected, right? Invisible monsters are not under their beds anymore. They’re all real, they are out there and they are coming for them.

I think the most things I enjoyed about the book were detailed, layered and entertaining characterization and addictive progression. There are other narrations but the story mostly told by journal entries. The story-telling style is captivating, keeping your interest alive with realistic, slow building mystery. Things get more violent, raw and vulgar at each second when the monsters appear.

Surprisingly I also loved Kate (in the beginning she irritated the hell of me with her weird, quirky antics and ultra-paranoid behavior.) and I wanted to punch her know-it-all face at several times but when the crisis occurs she turns into my hero and the transformation of character made me reminded of other super heroes from comic books: a person seems like an ordinary and creepy can be an enigma hiding so much potential inside. Her narration helps us to understand the nature of danger they are going to fight against so we can see the whole picture in our heads more clearly. And her tragic but also witty sense of dark humor keeps us agitated but also curious to know what’s gonna happen next! When the shit hits the fan she turns herself a kind of Sarah Connor with more knowledge about the nature monsters.

Overall: It’s a fantastic, nail-elbow- entire arm biter, heart throbbing, definitely earth shattering, wild, extremely crazy train ride you’ll take. It’s definitely worth it but if you cannot handle a mind bender, heart rate jumper, stress riser book, you are not great fit for this bat shit crazy journey!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing/Ballantine Books for sending me one the most anticipated books’ ARC COPY in exchange my honest review. I truly enjoyed it so much.

Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
October 25, 2021
I found a way, I found a way to survive with them. Am I a great person? I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re all great people. Everyone has something in them that is wonderful. I’m just different and I love these bears enough to do it right. I’m edgy enough and I’m tough enough. But mostly I love these bears enough to survive and do it right. – from the video diary of Timothy Treadwell, self-proclaimed “Grizzly Man,” recorded right before he was eaten by a bear
On April 1, 1969 the Board of Commissioners of Skamania County, Washington State, adopted an ordinance for the protection of sasquatch/bigfoot creatures (Ordinance No.69-01). Although it sounds like an April Fool's Day joke, it was an official ordinance. It was published in the local weekly newspaper, Skamania County Pioneer on April 4 and April 11, 1969. Because people did not take it seriously, the newspaper publisher had the article notarized on April 12, 1969, and printed both the ordinance and an Affidavit of Publication in a subsequent paper edition. - Courthouse Libraries- BC
There are several things going on in Max Brooks’s latest novel, Devolution. First and most obvious is the notion of Bigfoot. The conceit of the novel is that following Mount Rainier going full lava, a small community in Washington State is cut off from the world and massacred by a troop of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) or Sasquatch. This is a fun look at the real-world possibility of something being out there. Well, maybe not so fun for the victims. If there are yeti-type creatures tramping about in the woods, how did they get there? Where did they come from? Why did they come? Or did they originate here?

Max Brooks looks like he is prepared for a rough day (meeting with his agent, maybe?) - image from his site

Second, there is a satirical look at a group of supposedly back-to-nature enthusiasts who have little appreciation of what nature is really all about, and that does not just mean the possible presence of a superpredator in the neighborhood. The story points out the downside of our reliance on the conveniences of the modern age without considering the need for backup in case something should interrupt, or end, many of the services we take for granted. Something that might ring a bell in this plague year. For example, in one of his talks for the military, Brooks points out how advanced communication technology has made it increasingly possible for soldiers in the field to sustain real-time contact with their commanders. But what if they are being hacked by a hostile force? In that case the advanced tech has become an unwarranted risk and the soldiers need to be able to proceed with their mission on their own. They have to be able to go electronically silent. They need to have the necessary equipment and training required to accomplish the intended goals on their own. In the case of Greenloop, WA, if you lose your communications and have only enough supplies to last for a relatively short time, how do you sustain yourself? And then there is that third element.

Image from NH1 in Vermont

The need to recognize and prepare for real threats in the world. Well, the Greenloop folks might be forgiven for not heading to their exurban happy place, a small, planned community, expecting to be contending with incoming zombies, or whatever. (they clearly had not read Max’s earlier work) But they find themselves a bit light on death-dealing hardware when faced with fearsome furry foes.
It’s great to live free of the other sheep until you hear the wolves howl.

These guys do not figure in the novel, although it would be pretty frightening if a herd of them descended on a small community en masse. But their band name, Devo, comes from the concept of 'de-evolution'—the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society. (Like dressing the same?)

Brooks has some experience planning for unpleasant possibilities. He is the author of, among other things, World War Z, and, most relevant here, The Zombie Survival Guide. One could reasonably expect a bit of overlap between preparing for a zombie apocalypse and Survival Sasquatch. He is also a Nonresident Fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, and Senior Resident Fellow at the Art of Future Warfare Project, at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security of the Atlantic Council. His expertise on how to contend with surprising enemies is taken pretty seriously by the United States military and a top tier international relations organization. The guy might be worth checking out. And I would heartily urge you to watch some of his presentations.

Image from Closet.fileswordpress.com – I know that look, bunions

Part of the look at how unprepared we are has to do with a larger question of how those who are aware of impending problems (for example the CDC for disease-related threats, or the leadership of our national intelligence apparatus for the current cyber war Russia is waging on us) can engage the public. Most of the population tends to fall into one of two categories, denial (my children can’t possibly get measles or [insert your favorite not-quite extinct disease here], so there is no need for them to be inoculated) or panic (don’t go anywhere near a person with AIDS or you may become infected). Brooks plays those out in this scenario as well, while having a bit of fun at the expense of the frou-frou, and expressing some appreciation for those who can bring real-world experience of relatable challenges, and those who are able to apply their creativity to finding solutions to unthought-of problems.

Image from The Daily Beast

The story is presented with a lightly drawn framing device. It will feel familiar to readers of World War Z. In this one, an unnamed narrator presents to us material about the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre from several sources. Prime among these is the journal kept by one Kate Holland, a resident of Greenloop, and first-hand witness. (One must wonder if Kate Holland’s name might be a nod to Ranae Holland of the Animal Planet show, Finding Bigfoot). Her descriptions show how the social dynamics of the tiny community change in adapting to their newly perilous circumstances. Who rises, who fails. It makes for a very entertaining version of a Big (No, I mean really, seriously BIG) Brother type scheme. There will be heroes and villains. We get to see how the threats arrive, are seen, and how responses evolve as well.

Image from Closet.fileswordpress.com – Maybe upset because it is so tough to get a pair of decently fitting shoes?

Other intel sources include bits of interviews with Ranger Josephine Schell, and with Frank McCray, brother to one of the Greenloop residents. There are occasional one-off bits from other sources as well. These offer exposition about what was going on in the world around the time of the massacre, and historical and scientific insight. Each chapter is introduced with a quote. These are from very diverse sources, like JJ Rousseau, Teddy Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Cicero, Cato, Aesop and more. These are fun, often informative and/or thought-provoking, some grounding the more fantastical elements in a base of reality.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was the trial and error approach the Greenloop residents went through in trying to find ways to contend with their new situation. Really makes you wonder what you would do in their place. It reminded me very much of the hard science fiction of Arthur C. Clark and Neal Stephenson. And the musings on the possible roots of Sasquatch were also quite fun.

Image from Satanfudge.com

Overall, this is a fun read, with page-turning tension that will keep you at it while delivering a subliminal (or not so subliminal) payload of suggesting you check out your own reliance on things not readily replaced should something really, really bad happen.
Adversity introduces us to ourselves.

Review Posted – January 31, 2020

Published – May 12, 2020

I received this ARE from del Rey. Thanks, folks. Must have been because of my size 14s.
And thanks to MC.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

Where to go to see Bigfoot
-----Boring, OR - North American Bigfoot Center
-----Felton, CA - The Bigfoot Discovery Museum
-----Blue Ridge, GA - Expedition Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum
-----Portland, ME - International Cryptozoology Museum
-----Animal Planet – Finding Bigfoot

Items of Interest
-----Hollywood Reporter - Excerpt
-----Free Download of Germ Warfare by Brooks
-----Muy review of Germ Warfare by Max Brooks
-----Wiki on the band Devo
-----Wiki on Gigantopithecus
-----Muppet Show episode 211 - Us-ness - with Dom DeLuise
-----Courthouse Libraries BC - on Sasquatch in the law
----- Battle With Bigfoot at Mt. St. Helens
-----Wiki on the Patterson Gimlin film from 1967 - you know the one
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,681 followers
July 26, 2020
2.5 to 3 stars

As I loved World War Z, I was excited to read another one by Max Brooks. Since I had high expectations, I suppose I needed a big payoff to consider this a success. Unfortunately, I didn't get one.

While the format was a bit like World War Z - interviews post tragic event - this one more focused on one specific event. Basically, Mt. Rainier erupts and Bigfoot attacks (I don't feel like I need to mark that sentence as a spoiler as that is in several book summaries I read - so it should not be a surprise!). The premise sounded cool with lots of potential. It was potential that was, in my opinion, never realized.

First and foremost, the pace and story was completely clouded by the exposition. I would probably put this in my top ten books for number of times I found myself saying "GET ON WITH IT!" And, when it finally felt like things were moving along, there would be some more random exposition to slow things up again.

Next, the characters and their actions/relationships were so cheesy and unbelievable. At first I would think that I wasn't following a conversation, but I was. It was just that the conversation was so silly, and the way the characters were acting towards each other so bizarre, my mind couldn't comprehend it.

I mentioned the Rainier eruption earlier. As a fan of a good volcano disaster story, I was disappointed in how much the eruption was just an afterthought and minor footnote. It was like "Oh, Rainier erupted and now we are trapped. What do we do next?" - except the sentence I just wrote has more intensity than what was in the book. I know the focus of this book was the Sasquatch Massacre, but he could have had some more intense and interesting details about the Rainier part and it would have greatly heightened the urgency of the story.

Most of my review has been things I didn't care for. But, it did have some interesting high points and I am not sad I read it. I just wished there had been a lot more high points!
Profile Image for Emma.
970 reviews956 followers
March 16, 2020
Despite the horror framework, the real strength of this book is not in the monsters, but in the character development. Bet you weren't expecting that. When you first meet Kate Holland she's a neurotic mess and her voice is annoying enough that if I hadn't known people were going to die excitingly awful deaths sometime soon, I might have put the book down. But it takes very little time for her to get you on side. Her and her husband are the last to arrive at their new home in a super high tech version of an off-grid community and it means she's the proverbial outsider. Through her perspective we get to see the place and its people with unflattering clarity. The social politics of this escape from humanity style set up are immediately apparent and entirely recognisable, each power play and misstep detailed by Kate with insight and humour.

In fact, it was all so engrossing that when the creatures did finally show up, I was a bit disorientated... To all intents and purposes, I'd forgotten about them. After the explosion of Mount Rainier closes the group's avenues of escape and takes out their tech, I'd been reading the book as an environmental disaster/survivalist story. But that's precisely why it works so well. Everything feels dangerously real. Whether it be food hoarding or ashes covering the houses' solar panels or the disintegrating relations between people, it's suspenseful because it's so plausible. So when the danger becomes something less credible, you're already in the right mindset, primed so that you're not thinking 'well, that's unlikely', but 'dammit, not ANOTHER thing, how are they supposed to deal with that too...?' By them, I mean Kate, because by this time, you're going to be a fan. She's an incredible character and her transformation in to what felt like her real self was such fun to experience. Adversity clearly makes some people shine and Kate shines bright. (I'm not convinced it'd work the same for me.)

On top of that, there's some BRUTAL action. People lose their heads. And I mean actually lose them when they're ripped off by Bigfoot gone mad. It's creepy and bloody and surprising. The whole thing is pure entertainment, even if does hit a little close to home. Well worth a few hours of your time.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
March 8, 2021

Hey! January 2021 Reading Vlog is up!!
The Written Review

“I think the human mind isn’t comfortable with mysteries. We’re always looking for answers to the unexplained. And if an answer can’t come from facts, we’ll try to cobble one together from old stories.”
Greenloop was supposed to be the perfect eco-friendly town - located an hour and a half south of Seattle and accessible only by a single road.

Supplies are dropped by drone, electricity comes from solar and they make their own methane from...waste... iPhones and iPads control much of the digital systems.

In short - it was supposed to be a haven.

After the Mount Rainier's eruption, the residents decide to stay in their homes and some begin making preparations for the long wait for rescue.
“Why are we always looking for someone else to save us instead of trying to save ourselves?”
And at first, things went well. Some dealt better with the eruption than others but overall it is good.

That is, until Sasquatch attacked.

At first Kate is unsure of what she's seeing - shapes in the darkness.

Things moving where they shouldn't. When they discover the first skeleton picked clean - she begins to realize the true horror of what awaits the residents of Greenloop.
“ Is there something about how we’re wired, something universally human?”
This book worked surprisingly well.

Sasquatch has always been one of the goofier urban legends to me - something to giggle and poke fun at.

But Max Brooks manages to ground the legend like never before. Told through a diary, interviews with park rangers and zoologists - he paints a very real and horrifying picture for the residents of Greenloop.

I really enjoyed the pacing and the slow-tidbits of reveals. It was wild and exciting and above all fascinating.

I really want more from the book and yet, at the same time, I'm wholly and completely satisfied with how it turned out.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Trin.
1,720 reviews544 followers
January 13, 2020
Oh dear. I loved World War Z, and waited so long for a follow up, but this has none of its predecessor's cleverness or spark. Not because "Bigfoot attack" is inherently a dumber concept that "worldwide zombie plague" -- both are pretty goofy, and in WWZ, the seriousness with which Brooks tackles the silly setup is a large part of the charm. But here the mechanics fail him.

Devolution is told (for the most part) as a found diary, which is simply not a good format for an action/suspense story. Nothing the diarist -- in this case, a deeply generic woman named Katie -- writes has any immediacy: it can't. When Brooks tries to capture that feeling of being in the moment anyway, it reads false, because you know Katie is scribbling all this down after the fact. And you know as long as Katie keeps writing, she's fine. Like, we know Bigfoot's never gonna get her mid-scene; the form feels ill-chosen because from the get-go it robs Brooks of so many possibilities. It's the exact opposite of the brilliant use of oral history in WWZ.

WWZ had a vast cast from around the globe, none of whom were the focus. This book sticks almost entirely with a small group of characters, and that also turns out to be to its detriment, because it allows the reader to realize that not one of them is vividly drawn. Instead, the people of Greenloop are bland cliches. You don't get to know them, so you don't care when they die. The one maybe-intriguing character never feels realistically like a person, she's so OTT.

Brooks may also be trying to deliver some commentary about the importance or fruitlessness of environmentalism, or about how the human capacity for violence is a very bad, but maybe sometimes good, thing? I don't know, it's hideously muddled. But here's another scene of a sasquatch ripping someone's guts out!

I don't care, I don't care, nothing in this book ever made me care.

Deeply disappointing.
Profile Image for Char .
1,596 reviews1,442 followers
April 28, 2020
One word: SASQUATCH. I'm in!!

When a small group of environmentally conscious folk move into a "smart-community" (named Greenloop), in the Pacific northwest, everything seems to be just perfect. They are off the grid, groceries are flown in via drone, and they are self sufficient...until nearby Mount Rainier erupts. All of a sudden it becomes painfully clear that they are not capable of surviving very long without internet access, (can't order up those grocery drones now), and with the roads wiped out by lahars, there's no escape. Then, they start noticing noises from the woods and as all the local wildlife begins to run, they run into something deadly. Will our plucky group escape from Greenloop with their lives? Or will they stay and try to defend the lives they've built? You'll have to read this to find out!

The after-effects of a lahar:

I ended up loving characters that I nearly hated at first. Katie? I'm looking at you, girl! As the tale continues we learn more about each of the people living at Greenloop. Many of the important things about them aren't disclosed until much later in the book. My Google-foo was strong though and I discovered a lot of those particulars early on and that gave more depth to the tale. This entire group of people changed throughout, some in good ways, others not so much.

I thought that for a bigfoot story this tale was mostly realistic, though there were portions where I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. I cant say more about that without spoilers, but let's face it. This is a story about sasquatches, there's only so much realism there can be. And even though we're talking about somewhat of a creature feature here, the real focus is on the characters and not the cryptids. In that respect, it's not a creature feature at all, it's about the people.

DEVOLUTION is a quick read, fast paced and a lot of fun. There were gory scenes, lots of action and unexpected events popping up all over the place. It kept my attention, kept the pages turning and took my mind off this pandemic for a while. For these reasons I recommend it!

Available everywhere June 16th, but you can pre-order here: https://amzn.to/3cTN88w

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
September 9, 2021
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best horror 2020! what will happen?


when washington’s mt. rainier erupts after having lain dormant since 1894, chaos ensues as waves of lava and walls of fire engulf the volcano’s surrounding cities. meanwhile, far from the frenzy of damage control and rescue operations, a different kind of drama is unfolding unobserved, as the eruption causes the local wildlife to flee to safety. these furry/feathery refugees include birds and squirrels and bunnies but also a number of rarely-glimpsed bipedal apex predators who are forced out of the shadows of legend and into the midst of a tiny community of people who have chosen to live away from civilization and its amenities, but will come to miss it very much when sasquatch comes knocking. figuratively. bigfoot doesn’t stand on ceremony.

even before the bigfoot threat, the group of let’s call them ‘isolation tourists’ find themselves unprepared for being completely cut off from the rest of the world. forgotten in the more immediate disaster relief efforts, their regular supply drones aren’t coming, and their romantic illusion of remote off-the-grid living becomes horrifyingly real.

some worst-case-scenario food for thought:

Again, you can't just blame Tony, or even the whole tech industry, for not being prepared. They all should have had emergency supplies on hand, but, really, who does? How many people in L.A. have earthquake kits? How many midwesterners are ready for tornadoes or northeasterners for blizzards? How many Gulf Coast residents stock up for hurricane season? I remember partying in New Orleans before Katrina and people talking about "when" the levees fail. Not "if," "when!"

And that's just the dramatic stuff. How many have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen or emergency flares in their car? How many of us have opened the medicine cabinet in the middle of the night to find that one pill bottle we so desperately need has a long-expired label?

and once the hominid v. hominid competition for resources and territory escalate into a true life-or-death survival-of-the-fittest scenario, things are gonna get crazy.

although it’s a crypto-horror novel, it’s written with the same tone of convincing realism as World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, using a similar format of interviews and found materials to cover multiple angles of how a disaster escalates: the logistics of rescue operations, the psychology of folks in crisis situations, and a pretty logical extrapolation of animal behavior applied to these unknown creatures.

it’s horror, sure, but there’s an excellent survival story at the heart of it, and the group dynamics are very well-developed here, as a bunch of relative strangers are tested under pressure and either do or don’t overcome their greed and reluctance to contribute to the greater good—in this case, nothing short of the small-scale survival of their species. it’s an anthropologically thorough microcosm, and i loved watching it unfold; the period of confusion before the dawning realization of the threat, the practical exchanges of goods and skills as they try to *actually* succeed as an independent community, the distribution of labor, of individuals finding their purpose within the group; their latent qualities emerging into roles of leadership, mentorship, comfort, usefulness, the strategies developed for long-term sustainability or defense in the face of the evolving conflict, the…head in the freezer.

the character-standout is the bomb-ass mostar; a woman who has seen some shit and come out the other side fighting, but the best thing about this book is that it builds to a siege, which is an inevitability, not a spoiler, you ninnies. lemme just take a minute to swoon over a good siege. how do i love thee, booby traps? let me count the ways:

internet failed me, so insert Robin Hood Prince of Thieves GIF here

and the boobiest trap of them all:

i read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War ages ago, but i remember being impressed with how much novelty brooks was able to bring to the done-to-(walking)-death zombie narrative—how many unconsidered repercussions and situations he explored.

even still, i didn't know if i would dig a bigfoot book. the only sasquatch books i'd read were monsterporn—and that includes bigfoot AND yetiporn because diverse reading is important.

my reading list/reviews, because you asked:

for bigfoot fetishists:

Sex with Bigfoot
Cum For Bigfoot
Cum For Bigfoot 2
Cum For Bigfoot 3 (i did not know this series went to FIFTEEN)
Pounded By President Bigfoot
Bigfoot Sommelier Butt Tasting

for yeti enthusiasts only:

Are You Yeti for Love
Monsters Made Me Gay: Yeti Gangbang

and since a rose by any other name would breed as sweetly, Bred by the Beastmen, which is at the very least sasquadjacent.

marking my very first foray into the platonic bigfoot novel, i thought this was great fun and, like World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, i was impressed by his writing chops. i really hope brooks has more of these in him, because his style is such a welcome alternative to the typical horror novel, and i am—as the kids say—here for it.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!" .
551 reviews113 followers
July 27, 2022
My thanks to Random House/Ballantine/Del Ray. Whew! That's a mouthful! Also, Netgalley, and the often brilliant Max Brooks! I tried not to read this book! I knew I'd love it, so I thought I'd just save it for a month or two. Impossible! The Squatch? I don't believe, but if I did I wouldn't be living here in Montana! Nope. I'd love in a high rise in some awful city! This story worked for me. It wasn't really scary, much! But, I don't like monkeys, orangutans chimps, etc. I think they are flea infested, poop flinging, bastards! Maybe I'm a bit jealous! I have a few people I'd like to fling my poop at! Also, I have seen those shows where some of them hunt! Now, just imagine that, except much taller than us. Wider, and hungry. I did love how these characters came together to become less humane. Still, they found a deep respect and love for each other. More hunter, than the hunted! Actually, that's not quite right. They were definitely hunted. A green village, where everything is delivered by drone. Not even a damn nail, hammer or screwdriver in the whole place! I may get by "if I had to," without a hammer, but a screwdriver? I use screwdrivers all the time! Damn...I love this story. I have really loved many of these characters. Great job, Mr. Brooks!
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,683 followers
October 3, 2021
This review is specifically for the audiobook.

I can't think of another narrator that has been so miscast as Judy Greer in Devolution. While the audiobook boasts a full cast performance, Greer reads at least 75% of it in the lead role. You know Judy Greer? Everyone's favorite BFF sidekick in pretty much every romcom in the early 2000s? I cannot fathom why her quirky, wink-and-a-nudge persona seemed like a good choice to lend thrills and chills to what's marketed as a horror novel. It's downright impossible for me to determine if the book would be scary or not on the page after listening.

Still, I was fairly engaged in the story, though I wish there was a whole lot more sasquatch and a whole lot less yadda yadda yadda. If Devolution is on your TBR, I recommend picking it up in print and managing your expectations that the big scary monsters don't show up for a looong while.

Blog: www.confettibookshelf.cm
Profile Image for Ginger.
721 reviews316 followers
August 8, 2020
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars!

Was I entertained? Yes!
Were the characters annoying? Hell yes!
Everyone except Mostar. She was the rational and sane one of the bunch.

But I think that was the point.
You see how a bunch of soft, city folks have to come to grips with living in the woods.
Even though that's what they signed up for, they were technically not "living in the woods". They had the scenery to look at but they didn't have the fortitude or mentality to living in nature and knowing nature is brutal and unforgiving.

Devolution is the newest book by Max Brooks and you guessed it.
It's about the all mighty and introverted Big Foot.

I've been obsessed with the sasquatch since the late 1980s when Harry and the Hendersons came out. But living in the Pacific Northwest, takes it to a whole new level.
Everytime I go camping or hiking in the woods, I'm always on the look out for not only bears and moutain lions, but something super tall and hairy to come running out of the trees.

I loved that the setting of the book is in Washington State, along with being in the Mount Rainier National Park.
Trust me, we're all wondering when that mountain is going to blow but until then, we enjoy seeing it tower impressively over the valley below.

The one thing this book needed besides I different writing style (see below), was more volcano eruption scenes and hot magma! I really wanted more of that in this book and was a bit disappointed by the lack of volcano fury.

But back to the bad smelling tree man.

Devolution starts with Mount Rainier blowing up.
It destroys the whole area around it and causes massive destruction in the whole state. It sets into a play a deadly standoff between a whole community of urban loving vegan eaters, and the best player of hide and seek since Marco Polo.

The sasquatch has to move territories due to the volcano eruption and lack of prey. And that's when they come across the gentle and environmentally conscious community of Greenloop.

Greenloop is a sustainable, small community that was created by an entrepreneur. He has made everything sustainable from the sewer system, the solar panels, excellent WiFi, to having drones drop off food every week. They have all the comfort of living in a big city but having the backdrop of living in nature.

What Greenloop does not plan for is starvation, creatures in the night getting hungry, and being isolated from everyone due to roads being melted by hot magma and landslides.

Yeah, I really love the words hot magma. 😉🤣😂

I think this would have been rated higher for me because it was entertaining and the ending was pretty epic and spectacular.

But the writing format brought it down for me.
Not the writing per se, but HOW it was written.

It's in journal format and also sections of interviews with forest rangers.
I thought it would work because it feels more real when you're reading a journal of someone that lived in Greenloop.

But I think the journal format of Kate Holland was too detailed and not authentic. It didn't feel like how I would write in a journal.
I think if Max Brooks had made it rougher, gritty and less detailed, I would have bought it more. I would have had more dread while reading each one of her entries as the chaos was building.

I'm definitely glad I read this!
It was super entertaining and I've not read a book about the subject of the mighty Bigfoot. It gets points for both of those things.

I need to finally read World War Z this year because I really do think Max Brooks is a creative and entertaining writer!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
January 12, 2021
”Those poor bastards didn’t want a rural life. They expected an urban life in a rural setting. They tried to adapt their environment instead of adapting to it. And I really can sympathize. Who doesn’t want to break from the herd? I get why you’d want to keep the comforts of city life while leaving the city behind. Crowds, crime, filth, noise. Even in the burbs. So many rules, neighbors all up in your business. It’s kind of a catch-22, especially in the United States, a society that values freedom, when society, by nature, forces you to compromise that freedom. I get how the hyper-connectivity of Greenloop gave the illusion of zero compromise.

But that's all it was, an illusion.”

Kate and Dan Holland have bought into the Greenloop concept. The beautiful view of Mount Rainier, the superb hiking trails, the clean air, and a house that can be almost completely controlled from their iPad. If something breaks, maintenance fixes it. Their food is one click away on a grocery website. Everything they could possibly want is delivered right to their door.


Well, all is fantabulous until Rainier’s volcano erupts bringing chaos, ash, and flowing lava with it. When the road is overwhelmed by lava, the residents of Greenloop are cut off not only from civilisation but from help. They are a dark spot on a satellite map. Barely anyone even knows they are there; that’s the point of the small community. This natural disaster form of isolation goes well beyond their comfort zones. They still have power, but the internet is out, and there is no cell service. Welcome to homesteading, folks!

No one has a large stock of food on hand. Why would they when they can buy food whenever they want? They don’t own tools, not a hammer, not a screwdriver, not a pair of pliers. I use something from my toolbox nearly every day, so not owning tools is a very foreign concept for me. I’m sure there are many people who will read this review who will tell me they exist quite fine...toolless. The people of Greenloop are, in other words, once disconnected from the internet and their phone...completely helpless. Well, humans are never helpless. That is why we have that big oversized brain sitting on our shoulders.

Charles Darwin is always associated with the statement “survival of the fittest,” but the fittest in his estimation isn’t always the strongest or the wiliest, but the people who adapt and adjust. Max Brooks explores this concept with this small band of privileged people who are stripped of the protection of their money and are forced to set aside the individualism they have always cultivated and learn how to exist as a tribe. This becomes even more important when rather large animals, pushed down the mountainside, start to invade their space.

”It was so tall, the top of its head disappeared above the doorway. And broad. I can still picture those massive shoulders, those thick, long arms. Narrow waist, like an upside-down triangle. And no neck, or maybe the neck was bent as it ran away. Same as the head. Slightly conical, and big as a watermelon.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but seeing something like that would turn my backbone to jelly and my knees to water. And let's not forget they smell like sulfur and rotten eggs, bad enough to make your eyes water. Oh yes, we might also want to mention their gigantic feet. Max Brooks has provided a nice diagram on the cover of this book just to give the reader an idea of the difference in a human foot and a Bigfoot foot. Yes, we are talking about an infestation of Sasquatch.

As if our tiny band of Greenloop survivors don’t have enough issues, but they now have to contend with a hungry predator who is stronger and faster than they are and sees humans as just another animal to fill their bellies with. ”To be someone else’s food. You’re a person. You think, you feel. And then it’s all gone, and what used to be you is now a mushy mess in something else’s stomach.”

I’ve been trying to decide how to dispose of my body once I’m finished with it. I don’t want it shot full of toxic chemicals and stuck in the earth. Maybe I need to put on the list the possibility of leaving my body out for a Sasquatch to eat?

The people are annoyingly naive, and some adapt much faster than others. ”Denial is an irrational dismissal of danger. Phobia is an irrational fear of one.” Either side of the equation can get you killed. Being in denial too long can close the open window to escape the dire circumstances, but also being paralized by an irrational fear can leave you vulnerable to a very real threat. There are a myriad of differences in reactions by the different people, and you as the reader will have ample opportunity to explore your own reactions to the situation. Who am I most like? Would I survive? Or will I be instant bloody oatmeal for Bigfoot?

This is certainly a page turner, not as deep as his book World War Z, which could very well be the most literary book ever written about zombies, but this book certainly provided me with some chilling sequence of events that kept me entertained deep into an autumn night.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,970 followers
Want to read
October 7, 2020
Devolution tackles the legend of Bigfoot...

...told through a set of found journals, as well as an original investigation.

Apparently, this is all I have ever wanted in a book and more.

Max Brooks, you may now retire.
Profile Image for Blaine.
711 reviews570 followers
September 5, 2020
It’s great to live free of the other sheep until you hear the wolves howl.
They all want to live in harmony with nature before some of them realize, too late, that nature is anything but harmonious.
Bigfoot’s as American as apple pie and guns in schools.

After writing a book as successful (and now sadly relevant) as World War Z, there was little chance that Mr. Brooks’ follow-up novel would not be held up in comparison. But that is especially true given that this book is written in a rather similar style: a purportedly true, chronological narrative of a specific event, told often in interview form from multiple points of view.

There is one significant difference in format, as the majority of this novel is told in the form of diary entries by Kate Holland. She is a new resident of the ill-fated Greenloop, a collective community promising to be the next step in ecofriendly smart houses and cities. Following an explosion of Mt. Rainier, Greenloop is cut off from the rest of the world, and when it turns out that the explosion forced a tribe of Sasquatches into the area ... well, that’s not a good time or place to be. The interspersed interview scenes help move the story, creating an omniscient presence to places events in a context Kate couldn’t have known.

It works, but (please forgive me) this novel left a lot of meat on the bone. The first half of the story (pre-Sasquatch appearance, basically) is kinda slow, and during that time, Kate’s often naive/whining tone gets a bit grating. And there are ideas raised in the first half that seem to be dropped once the action picks up in the back half. Dan’s a lousy husband? Not once Greenloop is in danger. Hints that Greenloop may be some weird cult run by one creepy couple? The couple almost completely disappears once the plot picks up. The explosion of Mt. Rainier itself is underutilized, and is really just an excuse to bring the two species together. That said, the second half of this book was strong, as the humans and Sasquatches face off in a series of escalating battles that are quite gripping.

Ultimately, this book reminded me of Lord of the Flies. The devolution of humanity, and how quickly the thin veneer of civilization can be stripped away, when survival is at stake. A 3-star start with a 5-finish.
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,063 reviews7 followers
February 16, 2020
I have to start my review by mentioning just how much I loved World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, it took the overdone zombie theme and made it into a unique reading experience. Some of the military sections felt extremely authentic because the author took inspiration from a collection of thousands of interview excerpts from participants in WWII.

I highly recommend that book even if you think you won’t like a zombie book.

This one however was not in the same category.

I think the setup was too rushed to make the rest of the story believable.

The story starts with a remote eco-village of Greenloop situated deep in the wilderness. It is everything a city dweller needs to pretend they are getting back to nature. The houses are ultra high-tech, groceries are delivered by drone, electricity is generated through your sewer system and everyone loves the peace and quiet.

But when nearby Mount Rainier blows up cutting off this group from the outside world, nature suddenly becomes a lot closer than what is comfortable.

Even if you remove the fantastical element of Big Foot what you are left with is a very predictable story of a group of strangers doing exactly what you would expect them to do when faced with imminent disaster in an isolated place. Secretly hoarding food, in-fighting, blaming each other for stupid mistakes, hysterics etc etc. There was nothing new in the dynamics depicted between the characters in the story.

Like with WWZ there are interviews and anecdotes from other sources. In this case park rangers, other residents and zoology experts yet for me it just never worked well.

I never had that edge-of-your-seat reading experience and I also didn’t like the constant footnotes on every page.

I cannot recommend this book.

Netgalley ARC: Publish date 12 May 2020
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,464 reviews379 followers
August 20, 2022
Max Brooks does it again, with this biographical feeling account of the Bigfoot legend. I love that he can mix reported sightings and evidence with his own blend of fiction to create a novel that feels real.

This is the perfect blend of telling with research, evidence, biographical account, and speculation by those that found the camp. Max can weave horror into a story without scaring away the faint of heart. I loved Kate so much!

The narration is once again very well done. Max Brooks is made to write audiobooks.

Solid 4 stars! If you have ever had any interest in bigfoot/sasquatch/evolution theory/yetis, etc., then you should definitely check this one out.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,034 reviews348 followers
April 13, 2020
ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🦍

In the wake of a volcanic eruption, an isolated village becomes the hunting ground of the legendary Big Foot. Told through journal entries and interviews, we explore the last few weeks leading up to the Greenloop massacre and its horrifying conclusion.

Coming from Max Brooks, writer of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, I knew this would be an interesting read. And it certainly is. This feels very much like a modern day horror story. A story where nature has become idealised by comfortable humans. Humans who rely on technology for everything, carry phones everywhere, but don't know how to survive when all their comforts become obsolete. I think that's one of the aspects of this that makes it feel so scary - it's based on truths and grounded in reality. It's believable.

Brooks also knows how to shape and develop his characters well, giving us complete character arcs and complicated protagonists to root for. Our main voice comes in the form of journal entries from Kate, the newest resident to the 'smart village' with her husband, Dan. She's a true urbanite at the beginning, someone who loves her creature comforts and hates confrontation. She wants the great outdoors without the effort. She's slightly irritating and whiny, and is having difficulties in her marriage. They don't talk, and Dan doesn't do much of anything else either. Throughout her journal we see her grow into her personality and take a strong position in the group, helped along the way by the incredibly complicated Mostar - a neighbour with more common sense than the rest of the community put together. A community than involves some vegan hippies, a pretentious writer and a kesbian couple and their daughter. All of these characters are well thought out, well developed and feel realistic. You feel their conflicting emotions, and their fear.

The atmosphere in this is also really strong. At times I could have cut the tension with a knife - the slow build up of increased action and ferocity of attacks, mixed with the characters anxiety lead to many a frantic reading session to find out what was going to happen. The plot is very fast paced, leaving little room to deviate from the one and only issue - survival. Adding in interviews from other characters set chronologically after the journal entries also helps to fill in some of the gaps missing from the overall story, while still keeping the distinct writing style that Brooks is known for. That said, I probably could have done without the large paragraphs on how to make a spear out of bamboo. Handy for survival, less interesting to read about.

I do love Max Brooks modern take on traditional or more naturalistic horrors and classic lore, and I cannot wait to see what he tackles next. This really was a thrilling and utterly unique ride. I would perhaps caution people however, about reading this during the current climate as it does heavily feature people stockpiling food and isolation. It might not be the right time for everyone to read a survival story. However, if that's your thing - this is rather excellent.
Profile Image for Book Clubbed.
145 reviews145 followers
May 6, 2021
What made World War Z so good was that it treated a silly topic seriously—with serious science and serious worldwide responses and serious consequences. It was every late night “what would you do if the zombies came?” discussion transformed into a full-blown story arc.

This novel, Devolution, struggles with tone and fitting the various plot strains together. Is it silly? Is it serious? Do we even like the characters enough to care? Are we supposed to be scared of these creatures or cough up a polite laugh when a chapter ends with a pun about an imprint of a really “big foot?”

The first 33% of the book cuts our ragtag group off from the world, a necessary development for a horror story. While the volcano explosion had potential, the threat never felt imminent and the pace really lagged. While the second half of the book picks up, it feels like generic build-up, offering us nothing surprising. The writing is passable, characterization overexplained and the jokes eliciting a groan at best.

Brooks meticulous builds the scientific justification for the appearance of the Sasquatches, their historical lore, and their intrusion into this community. Unfortunately, for all the experts he “interviews��� in the book, there is nothing here you couldn’t learn from a few episodes of Animal Planet. Any underpinnings of theory around the man/nature relationship are banal, not nearly the insightful commentary that Brooks clearly has in mind.

The narrator is not a compelling follow. I understand the author wants to give her room to grow, but he didn’t do her any favors with the characterization. Her boyfriend, a lump in human form who rapidly transforms, is not much better. In the eco-utopia camp, every stereotype is accounted for. It is an odd choice. Are we supposed to laugh at these people? Care if they die? I mainly felt apathy, which I’m sure was not the intent.

It is a Planet of the Apes revamp with, well, really large ape creatures. Listen to full reviews here.
Profile Image for Kyle.
374 reviews541 followers
April 4, 2020
Many thanks to NetGalley & Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for providing me this eARC, in exchange for an honest review.

After a volcanic eruption at Mt. Rainier unleashes a horde of Bigfoots (what’s the pluralization?— Sasquatches? Sasquatchi?) onto a biotech-green community, a fight for survival ensues with (wo)man vs. squatch.

I dig this sort of story: a sci-fi/horror journalistic piece investigating something supernatural. We have Max Brooks, the journalist (and author), again giving us the facts in between chapters of Kate’s “journal entries”. The gimmick (and that’s pretty much how I viewed it) of using a journal to tell a story was a hinderance to the plot overall, in this case. I just couldn’t picture Kate rushing to record her thoughts and actions, as well as the movements of the Greenloop community, every time something happened. It was unrealistic to think that she’d essentially go “Dear Journal” after a gruesome attack and/or event. Having the story in retrospect made the writing a bit too sloppy at times, with Kate frequently saying something along the lines of “I am writing this now...” or “I took a moment to jot down what just happened...”. It was like “found footage”, but way less interesting or effective.

Some of the interspersed “interviews” and sections were hit-or-miss; And a few were, to be frank, quite boring. It ruined the pacing of the novel, this continuous stop-and-go between Kate’s journal entries and the post-massacre sections. To add to that: a bulk of pages (especially in the latter part of the book) were heavily devoted to “crafting”—in this case: weapons! I’m not gonna lie, I think the text got bogged by each passage detailing how to properly make a spear, javelin, hatchet, etc. I mean, it was kind of interesting, sure. I’ll give it that. Then again, I don’t need a two-page rundown on the technicalities of Martha Stewart-ing bamboo stalks, electrical cords and kitchen knives into instruments of death... and then repeat that countless times over for this particular weapon, or that particular fighting style.

As far as characters go, Kate was... how shall I put this? A drip! In the earlier sections, I really wanted to slap her (more than once!). She’s so passive and judgmental, naively irrational, and altogether meek and annoying. The shift in her was unconvincing and seemingly came out of nowhere—she went from super skittish to bloodthirsty confidence too quickly for it to be believable. Every other character was painted surface-level, and I really didn’t connect with or care about any of them. The only character I really liked was Mostar, honestly . The entire plot is predictable, too (and aside from spoilers, predictability is one of my biggest pet peeves). From the first few pages, you already know that everyone is dead (with the exception of Kate, whose body was never found). And that level of knowing took the surprise and the immediacy out of the story completely. When the—for lack of a better term—“battle” happened, I felt nothing. I actually think more time was spent on the weapons “How To” crafting than on the actual onslaught. Disappointing.

The good: The author paints a vivid picture of the Washington wilderness. I saw clearly the trees, compound grounds, and Mount Rainier looming over it all. In a book like this, nature becomes its own character, and I feel like that was done somewhat well. Also, the first few deaths were (although expected) pretty effective in building some tension. It was the slow burn with a weak flame, but still something, I guess.

In the end, I don’t believe I wasted my time with this book. It has its moments, and I’m sure will interest genre fans, but I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to recommend it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,846 followers
December 20, 2020
I suppose there are a good handful of ways of looking at this book, all told, but the one idea that really sticks to me is the idea of a B-level survival horror flick. It has all the most delicious elements of the genre -- such as hapless idiots getting in way over their heads followed by various successess and setbacks before things get really nasty.

Standard stuff, no? For that type of book. And we get the requisite battle, to boot. Or should I say, to foot. Big foot.

But then, there's the total tongue-in-cheek in-depth commentary on Smart-home, Smart-community enclaves that are so crunchy as to make granola blush.

It's light, snarky, full to the brim with ACTUALLY interesting self-sustainabilty stuff, while lampooning it in vivid style when certain unexpected events come to pass. And oddly enough, this isn't a tale about Sasquatch rising up to give us a bad day. This is more about oppotunity and opportunism and a pretty cool theory. :)

So, all told? This ain't a zombie survival guide, but it IS fascinating in terms of survival. :) Well worth the read.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,619 reviews4,958 followers
October 1, 2022
A Soliloquy featuring the PROTAGONIST:
A Fragile White Lady, ripe with Entitlement & Privilege

Part One
ENTER STAGE LEFT: The Social Satire
this Social Satire will skewer the various nauseating and laughable habits, norms, mores, and customs of the Coastal Elite, in particular the West Coast variety. satire will be broad and full of "gotcha" moments suitable for the self-flagellating fans of Late Night TV comedy and SNL. viewers will smile in condescending amusement at the stereotypes seen on the stage that parallel certain traits held within. the targets of this satire: Whole Food shoppers, "Trust Science" proclaimers, tech workers, bougie eco-warriors, the moneyed liberal class. the presumed audience of this satire: Whole Food shoppers, "Trust Science" proclaimers, tech workers, bougie eco-warriors, the moneyed liberal class.

[during the transition from Part One to Part Two, PROTAGONIST will change attire and acting style in order to fully inhabit the new iteration of her character, TRANSFORMED PROTAGONIST.]

Part Two
ENTER STAGE RIGHT: The Survivalist Horror
this Survivalist Horror will place the viewer in a once-idyllic, now-claustrophobic setting in which subhuman interlopers seek to acquire food, which includes the human body. the protagonists will debate various straw man arguments to allow for maximum delay and minimum preparation from the characters. the scoring of many topical points off of the piece's various two-dimensional characters will occur, due to the almost limitless stupidity and perfidy of these characters, nearly all of whom are fit for maximum killing that will cause the audience minimum sadness. a child will experience light endangerment. gardens shall be grown but no fruit shall be bore, alas, and also that's a metaphor.

A Soliloquy featuring the TRANSFORMED PROTAGONIST:
A Hardened Boss Lady, ripe with Lived Experience
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,985 reviews2,584 followers
June 24, 2020
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/06/23/...

Max Brooks, the creative mind behind World War Z, returns to horror with another epistolary-style novel, this time taking us deep into the forests of the pacific northwest where an unfortunate group of neighbors have a deadly encounter with Bigfoot. The story is presented to us in the form of a series of documents collected by a journalist writing a book on the incident, but most of it is made up of entries from the diary of Kate Holland, the closest thing we have to a main character. She and her husband Dan have just moved into the secluded community of Greenloop near the base of Mount Rainier in Washington, a small little piece of paradise developed by tech tycoon Tony Durant who also lives there with his family. The other residents are also as you would expect—wealthy loners or progressive intellectuals who want to live off-the-grid and be “one with nature,” but also can’t do without their modern comforts and high-tech gadgets.

Sure, it’s an isolated life, but there’s no denying it’s peaceful, comfortable, and above all, idyllic. It’s the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, and for a while, Kate truly believed she and Dan could be happy here. But of course, that was before the catastrophic eruption of Mount Rainier, causing chaos in the entire region and cutting off all access and lines of communication to Greenloop. With no way to get the word out or any supplies in, the residents hunker down for what they expect to be a long time before any rescue comes. With a new vegetable garden planted and a rationing system in place, they might just make it…until they realize that all along, they have been sharing these forests with another predator. These creatures have also been displaced by the volcanic eruption, and they too have been driven to desperate measures to survive.

So, first let’s talk about the positives. Much like World War Z, Devolution is a fictionalized oral-history-or-firsthand-account-type piece of investigative work that seeks to piece together a momentous event in the past. Possibly, Brooks was hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice by attempting a similar style and format for this novel, which is good news if that’s what you had in mind. Personally, I loved it—the novelty clearly hasn’t worn off for me yet, but then again, I’ve always been a sucker for epistolary novels despite some of their limitations, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

Because now, for the not-so-great, which is really a compounding of a bunch of minor gripes that made Devolution less than convincing. Yeah, yeah, I know, writing a believable Bigfoot story would be a tall order (har har) even under the best of circumstances, but there was simply too much here that felt…off. First of all, to create the perfect storm of conditions which would allow this book to make sense, we had to put together an extreme situation where a group of people would be completely cut-off, isolated, and pathetically helpless in the woods should a major disaster strike—and so we have Greenloop, populated by residents that read like they’re torn right out of a straight-to-the-Syfy-channel B-list movie.

Needless to say, it’s difficult to find too many of these characters likeable. Even with Mostar in the picture, I also find it hard to believe that a bunch of bleeding hearts could suddenly make an incredible transformation into Rambo overnight. There’s actually a line in the book where an observer notes the similarities between the Greenloop residents’ defenses and the guerilla warfare tactics used during the Vietnam War, and marvels at the way such ideas can span space and time. Nah, the reality is, one of Kate’s friends probably just saw it in a movie somewhere. It’s this attempt to make everything seem more profound than it is which kind of grated on me, though to its credit, the novel did get one thing right: Mother Nature does not play nice. Still, even then, the author fudges a lot of the details to try and make this point. In college, I had the pleasure of studying primatology in order to complete an anthropology degree, and while much of the science behind great ape biology and social behavior in this book is true including chimpanzee aggression and intelligence in group hunting, when it comes to his Sasquatches, Brooks can’t seem to decide if he wants them to be highly intelligent or mindlessly savage, so he switches between the two willy-nilly in order to suit his needs.

And then there’s the writing. I mentioned the limitations of the format, the biggest one being the challenge of creating a sense of in-the-moment urgency from something that you know was written in the past. As such, Kate’s diary entries do not actually read much like diary entries, no matter how many times she tries to convince us she’s writing like this to preserve a perfect record for posterity. Still, most readers are well aware this is not how average normal people write in their diaries, but we are willing to overlook it anyway for the sake of enjoying a story. However, the problem stems from the sheer number of action scenes in Devolution, which after a while make Kate’s narrative feel awkward. Worse, it even gave some of the more intense, brutally violent and gory sequences the opposite effect, making them feel over-the-top and goofy instead.

There were a few more issues here and there, but I think by now I’ve covered the major ones. This will probably come as no surprise, but I can’t say I thought Devolution was amazing, though I suppose it delivered a fair bit of entertainment. If having that is your goal, then this book will do just fine, but I confess to being somewhat disappointed considering I really enjoyed World War Z and was so looking forward to a new novel by Max Brooks. At least the audiobook, read by a full cast including such big names as Judy Greer, Nathan Fillion, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mulgrew and more was simply a blast, and I’m glad I got to listen to it.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
1,959 reviews2,674 followers
June 30, 2020
3.5 Stars
Spoiler Free Video Review: https://youtu.be/IgxPJrhOvXQ

While this novel has some clear similarities to his previous novel, Devolution really stands on it's on as a fresh new horror story. World War Z was primarily focused on the large scale political ramifications of a zombie outbreak, while this one was much more of an intimate story, focused primarily around a small group of characters.

I read this as an audiobook which certainly coloured my overall reading experience.In many ways, this felt like listening to a horror fiction podcast, rather than an audiobook. With full cast narration, this book was truly performed, not simply read aloud. There were a lot of well known talented actors involved in this production, including one of my personal favourite's, Kate Mulgrew. Of the voice actors, I thought Judy Greer's performance was the weakest of the group. Her narration was not actually bad, but her overly bubbly voice just didn't fit the seriousness of the story. Yet overall, this was a fantastic, high quality audiobook production. 

In terms of the story structure itself, this novel blended together "interviews" and "journal entries" into a cohesive narrative. I really enjoyed the excerpts where various experts weighed in with their opinions and explanations. I am not usually a fan of epistolary storytelling,  but I think it worked better in the audio format. The main story line started out slow with a lot of focus on the character dynamics. I found Katie to be a fairly bland character and didn't particularly sympathize with her internal struggles and marital troubles. Yet, when the larger situation emerged, I was pulled into the story.

I enjoyed the survival aspects, which involved rationing and procurement of alternative food sources. In many ways, most of this book was more about the breakdown community, rather than the sasquatches. Yet, by the end, the story was certainly filled with enough action, excitement and creature horror to justify the title of the novel. 

If you want to read this book, I would recommend the audiobook, because it definitely heightened my own enjoyment of the book. Personally, I don't think I would have enjoyed this book as much if I had read a physical copy. If you are looking for unique story that combines survival and creature horror, then you will want to check this one out.

Disclaimer: I received this audiobook through the Librofm review program. If you want a free trial of this audiobook service (that supports independent bookstores) you can get a free month here using my affiliate link: https://libro.fm/referral?rf_code=lfm...
Profile Image for Chad.
7,297 reviews853 followers
July 8, 2020
Max Brooks, the writer of World War Z, has finally written another novel. (Yes, I know he wrote several graphic novels in the meantime.) This time instead of zombies, he recounts a Sasquatch attack on a remote community. Greenloop is designed as the ultimate in high tech, return to nature living. When Mount Ranier erupts, the small community is completely cutoff. Turns out those high tech gurus didn't actually think of everything. (Hell, no one even owns a hammer.) The lava eventually drives a troop of Sasquatches (Sasquatchi?) towards Greenloop. That's when the fun (and horror) finally develops.

Like World War Z, the story is told in found footage, this time a journal from the newest member of the community, Kate Holland. This is a book you need to stick with. Kate starts out as vapid and needy. It's not until circumstances change and people show what they are really made of that I started to like any of the characters. The characters can be real nimrods at times.

The book is well researched. Brooks smartly draws off of previous Sasquatch "true" accounts from over the years. If you grew up in the 70's and 80's like I did, you'll recognize quite a few of the references. The book is very graphic. So if violence isn't your forte, I'd stay away from this one.

This was definitely worth a read. Hopefully, this will inspire Brooks to write some more novels.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,418 reviews531 followers
June 22, 2020
Having read and enjoyed World War Z by Max Brooks, and recently another book about Sasquatch sightings and a search for a living creature(Roanoake Ridge), I was looking forward to Max Brooks's Devolution. I had difficulty with the structure of this book. It is written in the format of epistolary fiction. It is composed of excerpts from Kate's journal. She is a resident of a wilderness settlement. The book also includes selections from articles on primate behaviour, discussion of primitive weapons, and cryptozoology. It contains interviews with her brother, park rangers' speculations and impressions, news reports, supposed historical sightings of Sasquatch, and scientific writings of how their existence is a possibility.

This format slowed down the pace of the story for me. The suspense was diminished. We learn from the start that the settlement has been destroyed and reduced to ashes. The beginning, where we were introduced to members of Greenloop, developed at a slow pace. This was an ultra-modern high tech community. The settlement consisted of 6 homes housing eleven people, and a central community house. This was not your usual off-the-grid survivalist camp. Residents lived in comfort with all the modern conveniences and supplies were delivered by drones. Members of Greenloop lived within a beautiful, forested setting with nature trails, but were also free to drive ninety miles to Seattle to enjoy city life. They had a scenic view of Mount Rainer.

We briefly get to know the varied residents through impressions in Kate's journal. She feels out of place and seems timid and reticent. She has grown distant from her husband who does very little each day and refuses to enjoy the natural setting or participate in walks with Kate.

After a volcanic eruption of Mt. Rainier, Greenloop is cut off from the outside world. Damaged, closed roads lead to the worry of not enough food and loss of communication. They are little prepared to survive and don't know when rescue will be coming. Sasquatches are fleeing their usual area deep in the forest and Greenloop is in their path. They are very hungry!

The villagers were in denial that shadowy glimpses and roars of the enormous creatures were a threat. They decided bears must be lurking about. They realize that they may need to prepare for months isolated before supplies are replenished. Kate begins a transformation helping the community members by doing an inventory and dividing food supplies. She is also busy helping to prepare a garden. Her husband now enjoys his role as Greenloops' handyman. Both become admirable, industrious members of the community.

When they realize that the advancing Sasquatch hoard is real and inevitable, Kate particapates in constructing weapons. I did not care for the final transformation of Kate. She is brave when it becomes necessary to fight the Sasquatch and defend others. However, I thought she was filled with bloodlust and was gleeful in her initial slaughtering the creatures. She seemed to be enjoying the battle too much until some friends and acquaintances were brutally killed.

The ending is unresolved. People viewing the devastated site which was once a thriving community, are surprised to find neat gravesites and a huge supply of dried meat. Someone did a lot of work. We are left with speculation and unanswered questions. There is room for a sequel which I would read.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,847 reviews3,363 followers
December 20, 2020
I will say that I have read only two other books by this author but World War Z is still my favourite zombie book of all times and the Zombie Survival Guide was epic! So this had big shoes to fill. Did it manage? Not quite. Do I still recommend this? Heck, yeah!

Much like in WWZ, this is a report in retrospect about events in the past. Thus, we listen to interviews and diary entries and newspaper articles, recordings from blackboxes etc.
Mainly, we follow several people who are basically modern hippies living in a community that is all about sustainability and loving nature etc. Only, they aren't as tranquil and peaceful and holding-hands-y as they'd like everyone to believe. Not to mention that they don't know twit from twat once they run out of practiced speeches and the shit really hits the fan.

I was pleased to discover that it wasn't an isolated incident we were dealing with but an unfortunate sequence of events surrounding the titular attack.

Most of all, though, I was pleased that while this was deliberately over-the-top (as much as Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Yeti hunters themselves are), the author used that kind of atmosphere to not only present a stunning amount of very good research but to deliver some heavy snark! Honestly, I was laughing myself silly and delighted in Brooks taking on not only alternative-living-hypocrites and vegetarians/vegans who think they are morally superior, but also smart anythings (phones, homes etc), the lack of balance between analog and digital (why would you abandon reading physical books or sell all your DVDs just because of ebooks and streaming services?) and much more.

The writing was fast-paced, the characters not meant to be liked, the action was breathtaking and the worldbuilding interesting. All of which was interspersed with just the right amount of real-life innovations, technologies and ideas to weave this tapestry together.
Like I said in the beginning, not quite as good as WWZ still a great way to pass the time and cackle gleefully all the while.
Profile Image for Dave.
2,959 reviews309 followers
March 17, 2020
Truth they say can often be stranger than fiction. And perhaps that is just the case with Devolution, a ”true” account of life in the woods and a rather fatal encounter with the Sasquatch.

Told through a series of journal entries spliced together with interviews and news reports, we learn the shocking and harrowing story of how Kate and a handful of people made an intentional community on the slopes of Mt. Rainier and built solar panels and compost piles and lived at one with nature away from the traffic jams, the crime, and pollution.

It is only after Mt. Rainier erupts and the little community (not even a town) is cut off from the chaos down below in Seattle and Tacoma that Kate and the others first realize they are not alone and all of Darwin's greatest nightmares have come true.

There is a long build up in this tale but once the action begins, it is really a fast and furious battle for survival. And to think this really happened to Kate!

The narrative voice is great. As a reader, you really get a sense of the horror unfolding and how the community was caught unaware and unprepared, defenseless against the tribe of behemoths.

The articles and asides work well with the diary entries, explaining why there was a flurry of sightings in the fifties and sixties and why no respected scientists would touch this with a ten foot pole.

So, put your reservations aside, breathe deeply, and be prepared for the unexpected. Bigfoot lives!
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
March 17, 2020
I LOVED this.

A one sitting read and straight onto my favourite books list, Devolution tells the tale of volcanic eruption, chaos and confusion, whilst one woman and her community face a fight of an entirely different kind…

Told via diary entries, interviews and news reports, Devolution is a highly addictive, totally involving tale that harks back to the fears of our childhood, the monsters that roam just beyond our vision, that in this book become horrifyingly real. The characters are pitch perfect, Kate Holland especially so, she could be any one of us thrown into a fight for survival where the smallest decisions can have irrevocable consequences.

The descriptive sense within Devolution is also quite brilliant, the subtle unnerving tones building the fear, some of it visceral and sudden, other parts quietly disturbing. The science is also scarily sound, it isn’t that difficult whilst reading it to take the leap into believing it is all too real..

Bigfoot is iconic, a legend born from so many possibilities – Max Brooks takes that here and turns it around on itself, making it in the head of the reader as if it is actually so, Kate’s battle is both personal and practical and you will live it with her to the bittersweet, cleverly thought provoking end.

Beautifully imagined, intelligently executed, Devolution comes highly recommended from me.

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