REVIEW: Devolution by Max Brooks
I wanted to like this book - I really, really did.
The deck was stacked in its favour, before I got going. I loved World War Z; enjoy a bit of Sasquatch lore as much as the next woman, and (as a distance runner) was especially excited about listening to the audiobook performances when I was out and about. Judy Greer! Nathan Fillion! Kate Mulgrew! Devolution was surely the whole package (if you like that sort of thing).
The sausage, unfortunately, didn't live up to the sizzle.
It starts slowly, painfully slowly - and while the pace picks up as the ending nears, the survivalist narrative itself, for me at least, was less than gripping. I'm sure there's an audience out there for whom long, meandering descriptions of a whiny protagonist's voyage of self-discovery in the Pacific Northwest (albeit while hiding from, and occasionally battling, cryptids) would really hit the spot; likewise, there may well be readers with whom multi-page advice on how best to whittle a spear from bamboo would really resonate.
But I am not among them.
One of the bigger missed opportunities, for me, was the framing of the Bigfeet themselves. They're big, strong, vicious killing machines - but there's not much more to them than that. As a consequence, they're not particularly frightening as antagonists. Sure, they can bite off your head and feast on your corpse - but so can the mountain lions to which they're regularly compared. It would be unreasonable to demand that a Bigfoot novel furnish its readers with an in-depth, Robin Dunbar-style treatise on primate social relations. But a little more fleshing-out of their history, development, even their motivation (beyond "they're hungry and they want to eat us") would have been nice.
I was, as I say, a big fan of World War Z, and I'll absolutely read/listen to whatever book Max Brooks puts out next. But I won't be returning to Devolution. Especially not on a long run