Cover Image: Devolution


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Okay so I hadn't heard of Max Brooks before and I've never seen a or read world war Z. So I can credit this book for itself.

At first I found Devolution quite slow going and a bit of a slog to get through. So rather than give up I skipped the field journal and notes sections and just read the journal as it was.

That picked up the pace and the story then raced. I had to find out what happened to this bunch of rich spoilt people that moved to the countryside to live a country life without actually making any lifestyle changes. High tech houses that get maintained by a horde of workmen, shopping dropped off by drone or driverless car. No building small holdings or allotments, no preparing to live in the middle of nowhere. Its was not at all surprising that they would be totally unprepared to deal with being cut off from the Internet especially with a natural disaster and a troupe of carnivores that start attacking.

I loved it! Great story.
I did go back and read the skipped parts but Devolution was just as good as a series of journal entry's and the epilogue by the protagonists brother.

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I was besotted by Max Brooks' World War Z (absolutely NOTHING like the movie it inspired) which was, like Devolution, told primarily after the events the novel is concerned with, and compiled via 'interviews' and a journal. I thought this was entertaining, tense, would make a great film. It also had some interesting, atypical characters, as well as a compelling message about how society has become divorced from nature and over-reliant on technology. I like Max Brooks' style and subject matter, though this lacks the punch of World War Z, perhaps due to smaller scale.
The trouble I have with reading his two novels is, when I get excited about them and try to talk about them with friends, I get kind of embarrassed when I have to mention the zombie and bigfoot factors!

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The spectre of Brooks' debut novel, World War Z, casts a long shadow over his subsequent writing and comparisons are inevitable and unavoidable.

Although Brooks has been involved in other writing, such as graphic novels, I think I am right in saying that this is his first 'proper' novel since Z. I am sure that everyone reading it will have the format of World War Z in mind, the dizzying mixture of 'reportage' from the frontline of the zombie wars and of the interviews with high up diplomats and officials.

Viewed from this angle, Devolution disappoints. There is one main narrative, a found journal left behind by Katie Holland, resident of eco-tech village Greenloop. This narrative is interspersed with interviews, mainly from a US Parks Services officer. There are other, tantalising glimpses into the events of the Mounts St Helens eruptions. Mention is made of civil disorder, foot looting and the I-90 sniper.

The main thrust of the book (probably about 90%) of the content, is Katie's journal. It is well written and the arc the characters develop along are very interesting. Katie goes from being anxiety ridden and quite shy into an alpha female who shows her true colours when the Bigfoot attacks on the villge become ever more bold.

At first the vibe of this book took me a while to get into, once I got my head round the journal I really enjoyed this book.

Don't jump into this novel making endless comparisons to Z, deal with it on its own merits and it is an lively, entertaining read. I really recommend this book.

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I couldn’t wait to read this new outing from Max brooks and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
In the same vein as World World Z it was a great read that I ran through. No spoilers but we’ll worth the read. It will definitely stay with me.

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First zombies, now Bigfoot; what next Max Brooks?
Whatever you do stay well away from the Loch Ness Monster!

In 2006 Max Brooks gave us the huge break-out hit World War Z, later turned into the blockbuster film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, and I will be amazed if this dull treatment of Bigfoot replicates his earlier success. At the time World War Z had a very fresh approach, presenting itself as a non-fictional account, written by survivors and scientists, on what occurred during a worldwide zombie holocaust. Max Brooks tries to use the same non-fictional trick with Devolution, but it falls flat, failing to deliver on every level. In the fourteen years since his bestselling debut Brooks has published no further novels and only a few graphic novels, so perhaps his inactivity is significant in returning with the same format. I hope this author is not a one trick pony; but whatever you do next Max, please stay well away from the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie is too good for this sort of mediocrity.

Whereas World War Z pulled in a startlingly large range of resources and documents to make the product creepily believable, Devolution is the absolute opposite. Proceedings rely almost entirely upon the journal/diary of Kate Holland, and over almost 300-turgid pages we are presented with seventeen journal entries, spread from September 22nd to October 17th. These entries dominate the book, and everything else comes across as bland unnecessary padding, such as interviews conducted by Kate with park rangers, scientists and others with insider knowledge of Bigfoot. Conspiracy theories are also given a passing mention in Kate’s musings, but Devolution relies so heavily on this journal/diary one wonders why Brooks just did not write a straight horror thriller about Bigfoot? Ultimately the shadow of World War Z seriously holds this book back, as it seems he is grasping at straws attempting to make the subject matter more interesting than it actually is. Alma Katzu showed with The Hunger (2018) that strong horror novels can be built around historical mysteries (the Donner Party disappearance) and perhaps Bigfoot should have been tackled in a similar way, rather than repeating the style used in World War Z.

Does anyone else out there think Bigfoot is old hat? Do these beasts not belong in ‘man versus nature’ movies made for TV along with Grizzly back in the 1970s and eighties? I appreciate there are current Facebook pages on Bigfoot sightings and that the phenomenon plays an important part in American culture and in Cryptozoology, but Devolution brings absolutely nothing new to the table and if you are a Bigfoot enthusiast prepare to be seriously underwhelmed by this book. The creatures are barely in the story, apart from a few hints here and there, action is minimal until well proceedings, and when they finally do appear, I struggled to decide who were the most boring characters; the creatures or the humans.

Proceedings open with a journalist doing research into a volcanic eruption at Mount Rainier which led to widespread destruction, and if an article in an obscure cryptozoological website was to believed “Bigfoot destroys town” written by Frank McCray, who was the sister of Kate Holland. The volcanic eruption has knock-on effects on both wildlife and remoter communities, including ‘Greenloop’ where Kate worked before her mysterious disappearance. This was an eco-friendly, high-end tech savvy community where most of the novel is set and where Kate writes her journal. By the end of the introduction Frank has sent the journalist Kate’s journal, hoping he will publish it….

Considering how famous the Bigfoot myth is in the USA I was surprised Brooks does not make more of its history. Little is made of the many hoaxes or other stories and tries to explain it away by saying that many of the most famous sightings took place in periods where there was a lot of distrust in the government and so they were filed in the ‘crazy’ file, along with the UFOs. One wonders if the book might have played differently if some humour was built around the Bigfoot mythology, something entirely lacking in proceedings. There were plenty of opportunities to stray into X-Files territory, but the author obviously decided against it.

The overall premise is too simplistic: a volcanic eruption brings a ‘troop’ of Bigfoot (or should that be Bigfeet?) down from the mountains and they quickly encroach upon those living at Greenloop. This was a very weak central plot, but that was all there was, and there was just not enough going on to make it either interesting or entertaining. The story could have played out without all the extra paddings, the interviews etc, they were all very superficial and added little to proceedings. If these extra documents were included to make the reader take everything more ‘seriously’ they failed miserably. As a foreigner, or non-American, neither do I feel I picked up any new information on the Bigfoot subject, which was a missed opportunity. Also, time has not been kind to this type of ‘docu-drama’ fiction since World War Z first appeared fourteen years ago, especially since television has really advanced with similar realistic complex docu-drama. Devolution might make a fun docu-drama but, in the right hands, it would make an even better mocumentary.

Devolution was a complete misfire which I would avoid like the plague. If you want to write a novel about huge nasty monsters which hide in the forests then go ahead, hell, I’ll be happy to read it. But it is the turgid way the source material is presented that is the most startling failure and Bigfoot, wherever he or she is, deserved much better than this. Nessie beware, Max Brooks might be coming to tarnish your legend next.

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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 and I highly recommend that book to everyone.

This one however was not in the same category.

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

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 won’t actively recommend this book.

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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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If you’re a Max Brooks can you won’t be disappointed!

I love Max Brooks and I love zombies so Devolution wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It’s still a brilliant read. Honestly I’m a little stuck on how to review this title without giving* away any just get it bought and see for yourself! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The format wasn’t great but that doesn’t reflect on my review.

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Well, I have officially read a book about Bigfoot. I honestly never expected to, but boy am I glad I did.

First off, and this has no bearing on the actual book itself, the version I was sent was very difficult to read and not just because of the blood and gore. Huge portions of the text would repeat themselves and cut into other paragraphs so it was a bit of a headache following everything. I tried different devices and formats but they were all the same. I did manage to read it, though, and despite the aggravating layout I really enjoyed the book.

I've read World War Z and it remains one of my favorite zombie apocalypse novels. It was just so unique, especially when you compare it to the plethora of zombie stories out there. Even though no other Bigfoot books come to mind (all I can really think of is the TV show Harry and the Hendersons), I'm sure this would still stand apart if there were dozens.

The setting was really unique, especially against the backdrop of a violent volcanic explosion. Thanks to this book I ended up learning a lot more about volcanoes and their aftermaths. I spent quite a bit of time doing reading on other recent volcanic eruptions, especially Mount Saint Helens. I wasn't born when that went off, but my parents remember the ash coming down as far as to their city in Northern California.

If this were just a story about people trying to survive cut off from civilization after a massive volcanic eruption proved how dependent we are on technology and society, that would have been compelling enough. But add in a family of Bigfoot who want to gnaw on your leg? Wow!

I had some issues with the story, namely how literally no one thought to check on the people stuck out in this high tech experiment out in the woods. I get a lot was going on, but it just seems odd. Also, I couldn't stand the people living out there with the exception of Mostar and the one non-Bigfoot child in the story. Mostar was amazing and I want a book about her and the intriguing life that was hinted at but never discussed.

As for the rest of the characters trapped out there- they were all the absolute worst and I often found myself rooting for the monsters to win. They really seemed to deserve it most of the time. The main character redeemed herself by the end at least!

I won't go into too much more detail about the specifics of the book because I don't want to give anything away, but I had so much fun reading this. I'd really like to read it again in a better layout, as well, so I can get the full experience without having to flip back and forth between pages. However, it just goes to show how well Max Brooks can write horror fiction if you still love the story despite technical issues!

Full review to come on my blog closer to publication.

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**Please note, the copy I received from NetGalley did not open properly on my Kindle, however, score does not reflect this!**

I'm a fan of World War Z - it was a fun, pulpy read with a great premise. I was hoping for a similar sort of read and, whilst the style of writing is similar, the plot left a lot to be desired...finding Bigfoot is one thing, finding a whole 'tribe' is another! The protagonists were good - some annoying characters, however, that's expected in this type of novel - some leaps of faith in how they deal with certain situations but, otherwise, an entertaining read. It's a 3-star novel for reading without having to think too much - good for fans of monster of the week episodes of the X-files sort of thing!

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I remember a few years ago, one day being in Glasgow and unexpectedly seeing it turned into a film set that transformed it's city centre into downtown Philadelphia for the movie World War Z based on the novel by Max Brooks. Now in his latest book Brooks has moved from zombies to that ever popular figure from Cryptozoology, the North American Sasquatch. The main narrative takes the form of diary entries made by Kate Holland, her diary being found at the deserted and destroyed remote eco-village of Greenloop situated deep in the wilderness of the Pacific North West of the USA.

The concept of living a life away from it all but at the same time having the latest up to date technology may at first sight seem appealing but what if a devastating natural disaster occurs rendering the technology being relied on now entirely useless and non functioning. No help is coming and not only are you now trapped but you also lack the essential survival skills to get through the cold winter months. On top of all this there may also be lurking out there in the surrounding forests, creatures that simply should not exist. If you like a thoughtful but gripping horror tale then this is certainly recommended. I also wonder if you like me, change your allegiances at the end?

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