Pines by Blake Crouch is not like any book I have every experienced. It keeps you on the edge. So many twists, i didn't want to put it down. Just when I thought I figured it out, the story goes in a different direction and the end caught me completely off guard.
In the same tradition of a Twilight Zone meets X-Files story, secret service agent Ethan Burke goes to Wayward Pines, Idaho, his mission is to locate and recover two federal agents who went missing.
He wakes up next to a stream, in a black suit and white shirt speckled with blood stains. No wallet. No money. No ID. No keys. No phone. That's all I'll say, don't want to spoil the story.
On every page, I kept trying to guess what would happen next, to no avail, and then the ending completely blew my mind!
Blake's vivid descriptions, constant action, thrills, mystery and intrigue, reminded me of my favorite books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
Intense and gripping, Pines is a masterpiece that had me thinking about the story, long after turning the last page.
I read this book on Kindle and enjoyed it so much I wanted to get the Audio version to pass the time while on the road. LOVED the narration of Paul Michael Garcia, it was perfect and made the book even more enjoyable. Brilliant!
I can see why this book is compared to "Twin Peaks," and also how it became a TV series. I wonder if the author wrote it with TV in mind. It's a creepy mystery that gets creepier and more unreal with every chapter, and I'm sure the TV series (which I have not seen) capitalizes on this episodic quality.
Normally I am pretty cynical about books that seem made-for-TV, but Pines really sucked me in.
Ethan Burke is a Secret Service agent sent to Wayward Pines, Idaho, to find a pair of fellow agents who went missing a month ago. He and his new partner are T-boned by a Mack truck as soon as they arrive in town, and when Burke wakes up in the hospital, he finds that his partner is dead, all of his identification is missing, and the townspeople, from the nurse to the sheriff to a pretty, helpful bartender, are all disturbingly affable (except for the sheriff) and yet completely unhelpful. Somehow, all of Burke's attempts to collect his possessions and ID, or to contact anyone in the outside world, fail. No one will help him and no one will answer his questions. What sort of creepy, staged, perfect little Smalltown America is this? What the hell is going on?
These questions, running through Burke's mind, run through the reader's as well, and every chapter adds more to the mystery while answering nothing. Burke is fleshed out a bit with flashbacks to his time in Iraq, and alternating POV chapters in which we meet his beleagured wife. But mostly I just really wanted to know what the hell is up with Wayward Pines. Is the answer going to be supernatural? Science fiction? Magical realism? Some sort of metafictional conceit? Or just garden variety conspiracy thriller stuff with a lot of improbable plot devices twisted hard?
It was almost a disappointment to reach the Big Reveal in the final chapters, though I should be happy as usually I am annoyed when the first book in a series ends without answering any of the big questions.
That said, there are clearly plenty of questions left unanswered, and Season Two... I mean, the next book is waiting. This one hooked me, and I recommend it for anyone who likes this sort of crazy-making journey in which the main character has to figure out a bizarre mystery before anything starts to make sense.
Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 14-year-old daughter.
Hard to rate this book since I watched the TV series before listening to it. The TV series kept pretty much to what was written in the book with minor character differences such as how the town sheriff was portrayed. I thought this book would cover at least the first season of the TV series but it does not. My guess is listeners who have not watched the TV series will like this book and want to listen to the next one. A pleasant listen although I pretty much knew what was going to happen next.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I haven't seen the TV show so only have the book's storyline to review. Overall I liked it but there are specific annoyances that drove me a bit crazy during the reading. In particular, the scenes where the main character is fleeing Wayward Pines and climbing the mountains... it went on for several chapters when it really should have been over in one or two. I don't need to hear the same scene details over and over so the author can up his page count. Which is what these scenes felt like - page filler.
The "twist" was kinda interesting and a bit more original than what I had expected. Given the genre, it was even mostly believable - other than the town killing the dissenters... if you only have a limited resource, you're not going to waste them by killing them. Not sure what the solution for them would have been (I'm not a writer), but killing them was not logical. Well, at least not the females.
Not sure how the next book will carry on this storyline since the huge twist has been uncovered and now it can only become another "life in a small town post [insert event here]"... along the lines of Under the Dome (very similar in many ways, though Dome has more characterization than Pines). Actually, Pines has very little in the way of characterizations... the main character is kinda fleshed out, but that's pretty much it; everyone else is there only to help or hinder him and have no real personalities.
I'm not sure if I'll read more or not. It had a bit too much "adventure story" flavour and not enough noir/detective/sci-fi for my taste.
The narration is very good. There is no sex, graphic content or swearing.
I would not read or listen to this book again. I knew that the book was divided into three parts but I had hoped that each one would stand alone. it sorta did but you were expected to listen to the other two to get the whole story. I became too bored with the story to invest in the other two. The characters were well developed and the mystery was intense at least until you learned what was going on and then it was a letdown. There was not enough there for me to invest in further books.
Yes, and it was intense until the mystery became clear then a little disappointing.
not read any more books by this author.
Other reviewers compare this book (favorably) to Twilight Zone, X Files, and Stephen King. But only in the most off-axis bizarro world of Twilight Zone, X Files, or Stephen King would this book be in the same league as Twilight Zone, X Files, or Stephen King. Without spoiling things, here's a quick plot summary: bad stuff happens to Ethan, Ethan is confused by the bad stuff, more bad stuff happens to Ethan. Rinse and repeat, over, and over, and over. That's not a plot, that's a prologue stuck on Repeat.
Oh, and the narrator sounds like he's reading a PowerPoint. This whole package just plain sucks.
I won't say this story isn't without its problems. There is too much repetition in areas, and the main character swings between heroic and detestable. Certain events and feats of strength are highly improbable. And yet.... Wow, I loved this book! It kept my attention and turned me into a zombie, as I walked around listening. My family became annoyed. It buggered my dreams as I fell asleep listening each night. The narrator was FANTASTIC! I loved this book enough to immediately buy the next within minutes of finishing. A recommended read.
I usually only write a review when I hope to save someone from the misery of a lousy listening experience. This is one of those times. I was bored out of my skull and the story, not all that long, dragged on forever.
Even in a story in which you are required to suspend disbelief, I couldn't suspend it enough. No spoilers, but I kept thinking that X character wouldn't do that, the main character (Ethan) would have done Z--he's supposed to be a secret service agent which implies he would not be an idiot. But he is. And the idiocy just drags on. When you finally get to the end, it's like, "Really? I waited 6 hours for THIS?"
The narrator was actually quite good, but he didn't have much to work with.
If I were the editor, I'd have sent an encouraging rejection letter--that this novel wasn't quite up to snuff but keep working on it.
Why must finding a solo book (not part of a series) be so very hard? WHO is writing stand-alone-story-that-wraps-up-cleanly books? I'll buy
Pines was not worth the time, the ending, although a twist, didn't satisfactorily justify the violent/crazy populace section, and the final choice of the protagonist did not make sense to me. That always grates against my sense of "balance" in a book.I would consider another book by Blake Crouch, but it would have to have five-star reviews, from hundreds, maybe thousands, of people.
Additional comments: To me, this was a book that had potential, but missed.