I am pretty sure you all are going to be talking about Wayward Pines pretty soon. July 2014. Fox TV debut of Manoj Night Shyamalan. Did that pique your interest? So hang on while I let you in on the blockbuster phenomenon that is actually a thriller/horror series called Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch.
If there is a word that captures the whole Wayward Pines trilogy, that in my dictionary would be Electrifying. Slick action thriller rolled in tight with horror, science-fiction and dystopian elements, this whole series kicks ass like no other.
I haven’t been itching to finish a series like this for a long time. Miriam Black by Chuck Wendig came close – a real balls-to-the-wall visceral experience. But this reading has been a much more wholesome and fulfilling experience. A fire that burns through and consumes you. A little shit-kicker of a thriller with plot twists and action galore. Blake Crouch really knows how to keep you dangling by the barest of the thread, crouched on the balls of your feet, ready to explode into action with every dark blind corner you take on this ride. It’s a confusing ride, pretty much like our main protagonist Secret Service Agent Ethan Burkes who’s barely hanging on for the ride – as jumpy as ever, suspicious and untrusting of every leaf that flutters, back from a bout of short term amnesia, battered and bruised beyond belief and an emotional train wreck. Almost two-thirds through the first book, this is pretty much how you will feel. Lost and bumbling like a wet rat caught in a sandstorm. And the storm blows like crazy before you find your feet.
This kind of thrill ride without any destination might turn off a lot of readers but for me, I loved the journey and I trust the driver blindly. God only knows why, but the Fantasy Book Critic review of both books was the stamp of approval enough for me to take this plunge.
As I said before, electrifying.
So a brief about the story from the first book and I will try and keep this free of spoilers as much as possible. Secret Service Agent Ethan Burkes arrives in the idyllic town of Wayward Pines in Idaho – surrounded by tall pine tree forests and insurmountable mountains on all sides to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two agents who had landed here two weeks before – he is involved in a horrific accident that leaves him with partial memory loss. But when he recovers, his interactions with the town residents, in particular the sheriff, makes him realize there is something wrong with the whole town itself. He also finds out that he is not able to reach his wife and kids in Boise or his handler within the agency. Dead bodies turning up, mysterious bar-tenders who disappear, a psychiatrist and a nurse who seem hell bent on harming him than curing and a whole town of kooks who love nothing more than shooting the breeze during day time and take part in blood fetes at night. It gets murky and weirder by the page. And things take a decidedly uglier turn when he attempts to escape the town. Book One, Pines is dedicated to him discovering the horrifying truth behind this idyllic town.
Blake Crouch writes a crackerjack of a novel that is so well paced throughout that I found myself distancing myself from my normal life just so I could read that extra chapter. I haven’t stayed up late night to finish a book like this. The plot twists are simply spectacular and they hit you out of nowhere. Especially the big reveal at the end of book one left me agape and thinking for days after.
Naturally I couldn’t resist the second book – again up on promo prices of $2 on Kindle and I went click-click. I was curious to see where Blake would take Ethan after that ending. And naturally my anticipations were sky high. Book two took my expectations and blew them away. While book one was a super-fast paced thriller purely from Ethan’s perspective – delirious, lost and heart jackhammering from all that fear and adrenaline as he stumbled from one plot twist to the next – book two widens the gamut of characters and we get a much rounder view of the larger plot at play here. It gets even much more cagey – a larger game of survival. With clear genre-bending elements that expand the world setting that Blake builds up, book two hits the ball out of the park. It’s very difficult to actually write anything about the plot without spoiling it for the readers unfamiliar with Blake’s first book on Wayward Pines. So I would let you as a reader – immerse and soak yourself up – in this entirely mind-blowing spectacular thrill ride.
It’s a blistering read and a thoroughly satisfying thriller that should strike the right chords with a reader. With a climax that ups the ante and the stakes like crazy, I cannot wait for the last installment in the series now. Plus with Manoj Night Shyamalan going to make his TV debut with this being televised on FOX debuting in July this year, the interest levels are going to be stratospheric. Hit the moon and back. Take the plunge and you won’t be disappointed! This one's a 5-star through and through.