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"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pines by Blake Crouch


"His first instinct was to leave without being seen, and this puzzled him. He was a federal agent with the full authority of the United States government. This meant people had to do what he said. Even nurses and doctors. They didn’t want him to leave? Tough shit."
Special Agent Ethan Burke of the US Secret Service, wakes up in the woods outside of a quiet little town called Wayward Pines. He's been in an accident and he's having trouble with his memory. He knows he needs a hospital and somewhere to stay, but he can't find his wallet... or a working telephone. The longer Ethan stays in Wayward Pines, the more he realizes the town's got a secret, and the residents will kill to protect it.

I know this book was big when it came out. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and passed judgement the same day; the writing was simple, and quick to the point. This was light reading dressed up as horror. There's nothing wrong with that, but at the time I'd wanted something to sink my teeth into, something I could dissect. I passed it by.

This year FOX aired, Wayward Pines, the tv show. I thought I could be in on the storyline without having to read the book. With M. Night Shyamalan there's no way I was going to miss it (that guy's a genius!). Of course after the third episode, where viewers get a brief glimpse of a bizarre, fast moving, creature, I needed to know: What the hell is going on?

My original judgement still stands(to a degree). The author loves standalone sentences, doesn't make use of paragraphs as often as he could. This story is almost too easy to read. As a result the story moves right along, getting to the good stuff. Thank God there is good stuff to get to; the bizarre happenings combined with the confusion and fear of the protagonist creates an atmosphere of suspense. There's a creepy nurse at a near vacant hospital, missing persons who've impossibly aged, found persons who disappear without a trace...and something in the woods is screaming. I flew through the story to an ending I never saw coming.

I give this story a rating of four stars because I truly enjoyed it but that ending... While it was satisfactory and I certainly couldn't stop thinking about it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought about it too long and I realized three irritating plotholes which I will not mention here because I couldn't reveal them without spoiling the ending, and maybe you didn't see them, or maybe your still reading and want to be surprised... In any event, the ending is surprisingly solid for a book with two sequels. So the book can be read as a standalone without having to worry,"Do I need to read the next two to learn what's going on?" No, you don't.

As for how it compares to the show: the first few chapters are like the first two episodes. The third episode is wildly different from the book. So even though I know where the tv show will inevitably go, I didn't spoil the show too much because I don't know how its going to get there.

Rating 4/5

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