After my love affair with the book World War Z, (especially the audio edition), I was excited to learn that author Max Brooks had a book about “a firsthand account of the Rainer Sasquatch Massacre”. From Zombies to Sasquatch? Yes, please!
The conceit of the story is that Brooks is a journalist reporting the story of a supposed Sasquatch massacre and that the narrative is from several viewpoints. The journal of the main character, Kate Holland, tells the bulk of the story as her therapist had suggested she keep a journal to process some issues she was working on. She had no idea that the journal would morph into a survival account of the massacre to come. In addition, Kate’s brother Frank, rangers and scientists share their thoughts, in regards to figuring out what happened to the small community of Greenloop.
Greenloop was designed to be a utopia, combining the best of modern-day technology with the wonders of nature. Six homes with an additional Common House were built near Mt. Rainer in Washington State for people who wanted to get away from the rat race, yet have the latest tech at their fingertips. Kate and her husband Dan agree to house sit for her brother for a few months, and soon meets the other inhabitants of the community. Unsure of her marriage, Kate is on edge but soon the surrounding nature has a calming effect on her. But Mt. Rainer erupts a few weeks later, leaving them isolated with no chance of a rescue in the near future. Facing that they will be stranded through the winter, with very limited technology and no supplies able to be delivered, they begin to plan on how to manage. The former leaders of the community break down and retreat while other Greenloop members begin to show leadership skills, including Kate.
But we readers know the eruption is the least of their worries, as Kate begins to suspect they are not alone in the woods after all. Indeed, things go from bad to worse once the Sasquatch tribe is discovered, and the skirmishes between the two begin. I don’t want to reveal too much more, but it becomes a war of who will survive. The conclusion is left somewhat open-ended and you will wonder what Kate did and where she is. I thought for awhile Kate and the others would think the Sasquatch’s were gentle giants and must be saved at all costs, but that’s not the road the story takes you on, and I actually liked that. War is hell, and it was kill or be killed.
You obviously must have suspension disbelief with this story, but after Brook’s zombie book, I don’t think anyone is expecting reality here. However, there were some issues that I found completely mind-boggling in regards to how this community was planned. The entire story takes place in less than two months, and some characters change too completely to be realistic. We had Kate, Dan and artist Mostar becoming hardy survivalists in a just a few weeks, while the former alpha-couple crumble within days when faced with challenges. While the quote “Adversary does not build character, it reveals it” was very apropos, the character arcs were too extreme.
However, the novel is a fun romp, for Brooks deftly combines elements of fantasy with science, plus writes a strong survival tale with elements of horror. Although I had loved the audio edition of WWZ, I read the print edition of this book first, I had no access to an audio edition through my library yet, but when I do I will be certain to listen to it. I heard it has an amazing voice cast, so I hope it is as strong as the WWZ audio edition. If you are looking for an escapist book and think that you would shine in the face of adversary and would kick-ass if necessary, then this book is for you.
July 6, 2020 at 6:50 am
I’ve been looking forward to reading a new Max Brooks yarn since I loved World War Z. It’s great that he branched out and did something different instead of going back to the zombie well, which is played out by now.
I wonder what other subjects Brooks can do next. Maybe UFOs? That would be interesting.
Anyway, I look forward to reading this book soon even though you pointed out some faults in your solid review and it sounds like the perfect summer reading.
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July 7, 2020 at 8:05 am
Aliens would definitely be a great topic for his next novel! He did capture lightning in a bottle with WWZ, but I agree that the zombie angle is played out. This novel was fun, and I’m wondering if my opinion of it will approve once I hear the audio edition, as the voice cast is what me fall in love with WWZ.
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