Friends, a couple of weeks back I eagerly made way to the local Barnes and Noble to pick up Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre, which is the latest novel by Max Brooks. Brooks is of course very well known for being the Author of the extremely popular World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War as well as the preceding book The Zombie Survival Guide and it’s graphic novel follow-up The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. Max Brooks has also penned the exceptional The Harlem Hellfighters, a graphic novel illustrated by Caanan White, and even 2019’s Minecraft: The Island. The question I had when leaving the store was whether Brooks’ fantastic writing that mostly focused on the zombie apocalypse would lend itself to a survivor’s account of running afoul of Sasquatches – I am happy to say that the answer is a resounding yes. While I obviously do not know Max Brooks, I believe that the Author is of the same mindset as the late and great George A. Romero – it’s not the ‘monsters’ you have to watch out for but people. Although in the case of Devolution while the characters definitely have to be wary of what is lurking around the woods of their progressive tiny community – it ends up being their own hubris, that they have everything under control – that Man is securely at the top of the food chain that is their undoing.
Now before I give a brief synopsis for Devolution and some parting thoughts about the novel – I want to take just a moment and talk about how I first learned of Sasquatch or Bigfoot. It was all thanks to a double feature at the local Drive-In of my youth that showed 1972’s Bigfoot: Man or Beast in addition to 1976’s Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot. I will admit that it might have had a little something to do with the fact that I was at the ripe old age of 5 at the time – but the recreation of the 1924 Ape Canyon incident in the 1976 ‘documentary’ equally intrigued and terrified me at the same time.
So I am pretty positive that you can understand why Max Brooks tackling a story involving a Sasquatch attack is right in my wheelhouse. When all is said and done, I believe that Brooks has written another absolutely fantastic horror title – although perhaps not knocking it exactly out of the ball park in this case -I will get to that in just a second. The book itself focuses on the found journals of Kate Holland – presented along with interviews and other research into Sasquatch by Max Brooks himself – at the behest of Holland’s Brother. We learn from these journal entries – which as I understand it is something that Kate’s therapist has asked her to do – that she and her Husband have picked up roots to move to the small community of Greenloop. This self-sustaining village or neighborhood located near Mount Rainier in Washington State only has six homes but acts as the model for the cutting edge of both technological and nature-friendly housing. Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city – experiencing the beauty that nature has to offer… while drones from Amazon can get you what you need at the press of a button. These smart homes are certainly a wonder for both Kate and her Husband – and perhaps this will help smooth over some of the rough waters of late with their marriage?
All of that wonder is wiped away along with the wireless internet and cell towers when Mount Rainier erupts – and while the residents of Greenloop are thankfully spared from the eruption itself they find themselves cut off from civilization. Of course as you can guess from the title of the book – this volcanic event sets into motion something else that the inhabitants of Greenloop could never have predicted… the proof of the existence of Sasquatches. And without going further into spoilers, you can be rest assured that this discovery by Kate Holland and the rest of the residents of Greenloop is far, far from a peaceful encounter.
Now, Devolution is a wonderful read – it takes it’s time to let you get to know the characters – or at least how Kate feels about them. The way that Brooks has structured the book, you can see how bit by bit how things start to go so horribly wrong for Greenloop and it’s inhabitants. By the time the Sasquatches truly enter the story, it feels like you’ve reached the peak of a roller coaster and you have to hang on tightly as you begin the descent that turns into a horrifying plummet.
My only critical stance involves two of the characters and to my mind the need for a more satisfactory explanation of their behavior after the crises strikes. Just a little thing that stuck with me after finishing what is most assuredly a fantastic read – the perfect book to pick up and enjoy during the blistering heat of Summer. If you don’t have the time to read it at the moment – I am very happy to say that you can totally pick up the unabridged audiobook featuring the likes of Judy Greer, Nathan Fillion, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mulgrew, and Steven Weber to name a few.