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Book Reviews

Defiance in the Face of the Unimaginable


Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

by Max Brooks

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Including this one, and by this one, I mean mainstream pop culture Bigfoot’s as American as apple pie, and guns in school. ― 

Max BrooksDevolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre


The #1 bestselling author of World War Z takes on the Bigfoot legend with a tale that blurs the lines between human and beast–and asks what we are capable of in the face of the unimaginable.

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.


Hardcover, 320 pagesExpected publication: June 16th 2020 by Del Rey BooksOriginal TitleDevolutionISBN1984826786 (ISBN13: 9781984826787)

My Thoughts

It sounds exciting right, living amongst the wilds of nature while being tethered to the city’s ease and convenience. You get the verdant beauty without all the needs of living in a forest. Who wouldn’t want that? But what if something huge happens and you are unprepared for it. You are a city person living amongst the beasts. What do you do, how do you survive?

This is what happened to Greenloop community on the skirts of Mt. Ranier when the Bigfoots came to hunt.

Let me start by saying that this was the wrong book to read right now. Currently, I am neurotic and anxious, trapped in quarantine, much like the rest of the world. Trees surround my home. I can see Mt. Ranier on a clear day from my front yard. It is either the worst or the best time to pick up a book like Devolution; either way, it was effective at scaring the bejeezus out of me. This story is something. Written in what I am sure is to become the “Max Brooks style” of storytelling. It is told through letters and first-person interviews. Instead of linear storytelling Brooks creates the world of the story brick by brick until you are surrounded by his world and can’t get out.

Many people are horrified when they hear that a chimpanze might eat a human baby, but after all, so far as the chimpanzee is concerned, men are only another kind of primate… ― 

Max BroooksDevolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

A group of rich yuppies from the city comes to a premade rural/city community named Greenloop. The food and necessities are shipped in via drone, the homes are smart and powered by solar, people telecommute for work, and every need has been thought of by the architect. Then with a boom and shaking, the sky fills with ash, and Greenloop is cut off from all human contact. This, on the surface, is bad enough. You take characters that do not have a strong bone in their bodies and throw them into a life and death situation and see what happens. Now add in a mysteriously large footprint. Animal bones are surrounding the complex that have been chewed on and licked clean. A strong smell of gamey rot that permeates the air, and instead of just survival, you have so much more to worry about. In the vein of classic fear of invisible monsters, these people are stalked and toyed with.

The lead character is a neurotic woman named Kate. I dislike Kate. I think everyone who reads this book will hate Kate at first. She is an insufferable know-it-all that would be the first to complain to a manager if her chardonnay was the wrong temperature. But when everything goes pear-shaped, Kate changes. This is the best part of the book. Kates’s character progression is beautiful and believable. She is so much more under the surface; all she needed was flesh-eating primates to bring it out. You will love her, you will cheer her, and you will want her to win.

The one complaint I have about the story is that it is a slow burn. SLLLOOOOOWWW. I was waiting for something to happen in the first 60 % of the story, and nothing did. It wasn’t enjoyable until you see why Brooks wrote it that way in the last 40% of the story. It all comes together. Every little bit of info or aside he shoved into the beginning was the building blocks for the last gory and exciting forty percent of the novel. Then all you have is an appreciation for Brooks’s storytelling abilities. Because man, there is craziness, explosions, fights, terror, excitement… so much.

This isn’t World War Z; it is an entirely new thing. The scale is smaller, but the action and characterizations aren’t. It is a big story told on the microscale of a small community. It was so much fun, and you should read it.

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I received a copy of this from publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.

About the Author

Max Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. He has been called ”the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism.“

Brooks is the son of director Mel Brooks and the late actress Anne Bancroft. He is a 1994 graduate of Pitzer College. His wife, Michelle, is a screenwriter, and the couple have a son, Henry.


  • Nancy says:

    I loved World War Z, so I am thrilled that my copy of this book will be waiting for me to pick up on Wednesday at my library.

    • Beth Tabler says:

      It is great! The scale is much smaller, but the character growth in Kate was a cool thing to read.

      • Nancy says:

        I just finished reading the book, and I found it a fun romp, but not as good as WWZ. Believe it or not, I found a zombie apocalypse more realistic than the Greenloop community being cut off and being attacked by a tribe of Sasquatch. Despite this, I want to listen to the audio version of this story, as the voice cast is what made me love WWZ, and I hope the audio will elevate this story for me too.

        • Beth Tabler says:

          I agree completely. WWZ Is in my top five favorite books. I have read it multiple times. This was not as fleshed out character wise, which is ironic considering WWZ is vignettes.

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