The Wayward Pines Series by Blake Crouch
Review: Birds chirping, beautiful Victorian homes, happy people talking casually at weekly barbecues, quiet streets, gorgeous weather, and the most vivid and pure colors … it sounds like a dream, but in Pines by Blake Crouch, it is merely the façade hiding behind it a terrifying nightmare. "This place was beautiful, no question, but for the first time, those mountain walls that boxed this valley instilled something in him other than awe. He couldn't explain why, but they filled him with fear. A dread he couldn't quite put his finger on." Growing up during the era when Twin Peaks dazzled fans by creating a town that wasn't quite what it seemed, Blake Crouch states that "the undeniable magic present in those early episodes still haunts me two decades later." As a result, once Twin Peaks was cancelled, Crouch set on a quest to write a story with a similar theme — and he did.
After a horrific car accident, Special Agent Ethan Burke with the United States Secret Service ends up in a small valley town, Wayward Pines, with no money, no identification, and no cell phone. Despite his pleading with the authorities, Ethan is unable to make any contact with people outside Wayward Pines, and those that live inside seem determined to keep it that way. Barely able to walk and nearing starvation, Ethan finds himself searching for someone who is willing to help him. What he finds instead is a web of lies and deception that is more dreadful than one could ever imagine. The realization that Wayward Pines is a beautiful town on the outside plagued with death and violence at its core, leads Ethan to set out on a mission to find a way out of Wayward Pines. But, every road out of town somehow leads back to Wayward Pines. Ethan's chances of success are bleak, but his chances for survival are even bleaker.
Pines is the kind of novel that will keep readers up into the wee hours of the night reading and then once they are no longer able to keep their eyes open, fill their sleep with nightmares. Crouch describes Wayward Pines so eloquently that readers become completely entranced with the setting. Who wouldn't want to live in this beautiful, peaceful town? But, when Ethan realizes that the chirping crickets that calm him as he walks the desolate streets at night are instead merely recordings emitted from hidden speakers in the bushes, it is evident that something is not quite right in this utopian society. And it doesn't take long for Ethan to realize that someone or something is in control — and it's definitely not him. Rarely are books filled with so many unexpected plot twists, that readers are unable to definitively understand what is at the core of the conflict until the very last pages of a novel. Crouch maintains suspense from the first page all the way to the end, and truly, the reason behind the horror that Ethan must withstand is completely unforeseen. Hardly ever is there a book that weaves its way into the reader's mind like Pines in such a way that the shock never leaves — even after the last page.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Margo Nauert for contributing her review of Pines.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided a copy of Pines for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Margo Nauert — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2010
ISBN-13: 9780312425739; ISBN-10: 0312425732
Thomas & Mercer (Trade Paperback), September 2013
ISBN-13: 9781477808702; ISBN-10: 1477808701
Location(s) referenced in Pines: Idaho
— ♦ —
Pines by Blake Crouch — The Wayward Pines Series
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2012
List Price: $14.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites