Wayward Pines

Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch

I picked up the first book of the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch, Pines, because it was $1.99 on Amazon and I was looking for something new to read. I’d remembered hearing about the series on TV and how it was inspired by Twin Peaks, which I liked (no, I’m not that old, I watched it on Netflix). Beware, if you read further, there will be SPOILERS for the whole trilogy.

At first, it was kinda Twin Peaks-ish. A weird town with weird people that are clearly hiding something. I was edging toward disappointment, thinking this was going to be another “he thinks he’s alive but he’s really dead” sort of story when Crouch dropped a whammy of a twist on me. Main character Ethan Burke, a Secret Service agent out of Seattle, wasn’t dead. No, he and everyone else had simply (“simply”) been put in suspended animation by a nut job named David Pilcher and had woken up almost 2000 years ahead of present time.

Pilcher, a scientist has discovered that the human genome was “corrupted” (news flash: duh. Everyone’s got some sort of weird mutation. Whether or not that actually impacts your life is another story. Generally the answer is no) and that within 30 generations, humans as we know them would be extinct. Again, duh. It’s called evolution. That’s why we’re no longer neanderthals. I’m not knocking Crouch’s writing, just the character’s feeling like he had to “save” humanity by kidnapping (yes, kidnapping) about 1400 people and putting them in suspended animation.

Ethan works out that something is terribly wrong with the town of Wayward Pines, ID, where he wakes up after thinking he was in a car accident. After some fights, some time in their “hospital” and help from another townie who knows at least something of what’s going on, Ethan escapes. What he found when he gets out of the town, horrifies him. They’re surrounded by what Pilcher and his hired goons call abbies, for abnormal. Every one of which would gladly eat him for breakfast.

Holy crap. It was so good, I had to go out and buy the second novel, Wayward, immediately. I blew through that one too. In this one, Ethan has been made the sheriff and reunited with the wife and child he thought died 2000 years ago. It’s an uneasy moment, both in the town and in the Burke home. Teresa and Ben, the wife and child, have lived in Wayward Pines for 5 years without Ethan. They have to get used to being a family again when you’re never alone.

Not only that, but when new Sheriff Ethan Burke is called in to investigate a number of people dubbed “Wanderers” (people who remove their tracking chips), he knows there’s the very real possibility that he’ll end up being ordered to kill one of his old friends from Before, another Secret Service agent named Kate who was kidnapped before him. The investigation takes some wild turns and it lead Ethan to a fateful choice: Kill his old friend and partner or tell everyone in the town what’s really going on. SPOILER: he tells everyone in town what’s really going on.

That leads into book three, The Last Town. This book uses a different style of narrative than the previous books, alternating between people to focus on (i.e. – one chapter focuses on Ethan, one on Teresa, etc) and on past versus present. Pilcher, unhappy with what Ethan did, opens up the protective electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and allows 500 abbies in. They slaughter most of the townspeople, but Ethan and about one hundred others escape. Not unscathed, but at least alive

Ethan makes it up to the mountain where Pilcher lives with the people he hired 2000 years ago, people who really believe in his cause. Let’s face it, Pilcher is a cult leader, one who’s about to get his comeuppance. Ethan gets the grunts on his side and effectively takes over Wayward Pines. The grunts, most of whom have weapons training, clear out the abbies in the town and get the fence up and running. From there, they have to decide if they’re going to 1) leave the town and try to make it in the world of the abbies (a suicide mission at best), 2) stay in the town and starve to death within 4 years or 3) go back into suspended animation and hope to wake up in the future.

This trilogy is captivating from beginning to end. I blasted through about nine hundred total pages in two and a half days. That’s a record even for me. The writing is superb and the suspense will leave you at the edge of your seat. Crouch knows how to leverage the cliffhanger, but also knows when to wrap something up. Amazing writing. I highly recommend the series, which is now on sale for Kindle at $1.99 per book. Go out and get it now!. Rating: A++

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