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 beasts behind it, once thought legendary but now known to be terrifyingly real.
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.
I loved Max Brooks’ first novel, World War Z, and was intrigued by the premise of his latest novel as soon as I heard about it. It begins with Kate Holland and husband, Dan, moving to Greenloop – a remote community of six-houses that are all eco-friendly and high-tech. It’s an experimental settlement where everything is available at the touch of a button, including the delivery of groceries and a handyman should anything go wrong. The residents have the satisfaction of living in an environmentally friendly community where everything – even their own waste – is recycled and repurposed, but with all the convenience and creature comforts that many have come to take for granted. It’s an urban life in a rural setting, and from the beginning, it sounds too good to be true.
Kate and Dan settle into the community, but are soon trapped there as Mount Rainier erupts, leaving Greenloop completely cut off from the rest of the country. The residents are initially unconcerned, having faith in the state and believing that everything will soon return to normal, and they continue with their lives with little concern. One resident – Mostar – feels differently, and soon ropes Kate and Dan into her plans as she prepares for the worst. They begin to grow crops, and Dan begins to play with the technology that keeps their homes running, learning how to hack the system and to use it for their advantage. It proves to be suitable preparation as their isolation continues and supplies begin to run low.
The characters are, for the most part, unlikeable, at least initially. Kate is a worrier and comes across as being anxious and unnecessarily timid – she worries about knocking on a neighbour’s door at one point. Dan is a layabout, seemingly waiting for fate to give him a purpose without doing anything himself. Both are transformed by their circumstances as the novel progresses. Dan is given the raison d’être he so desperately needs by Mostar – not one that he was expecting! – and yet he rises to the challenge set out for him admirably, even beginning to enjoy himself in his newfound role. Similarly, Kate is forced out of her comfort zone and finds herself capable of more than she ever expected. I loved seeing both characters develop over the course of the novel, and they do show what people are capable of achieving when push comes to shove.
The novel is told retrospectively – the reader knows much of what happens from the first few pages of the novel, and the story itself is told through a combination of documents including Kate’s journals and interviews with a park ranger, Josephine Schell, presented as documentary evidence for the existence of Sasquatch. Kate’s journals highlight the mounting terror of Greenloop as it becomes clear that the eruption of Mount Rainier has driven these creatures in their direction, and the steps they take to protect themselves. Kate’s journals contrast nicely with the interviews with Josephine Schell – the reader is aware of the mistakes they make even before they are as their actions are examined and the ranger gives her views on what they should or shouldn’t have done. It’s brilliant way to build tension, and I read on desperate to see what the impact of their actions would be. I also enjoyed the exploration of the myth of the Sasquatch – where it originated from, and why there are similar myths to be found in separate parts of the world.
Devolution is a fascinating horror novel and an interesting exploration of the Sasquatch legend. Despite the reader knowing the outcome, Brooks builds the tension throughout the novel as the situation at Greenloop goes from bad to worse. I didn’t like it as much as World War Z, but this is an enjoyable read, and something a little different for me.