Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book review: The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

I had heard about Wayward Pines several years ago (from the surprise there!) so it had been on my reading list for a while. Before I read the books, I made the mistake of watching a few episodes of FOX’s TV adaptation (which in hindsight, hasn't stayed completely true to the books) so I had a basic idea about the premise. If you are a mystery buff or a lover of science fiction, I feel like you will be able to enjoy this series much more if you have no idea what it is about! Trust me, for the uninitiated, the shock value will be pretty high! Now, if you have never heard of Wayward Pines, that statement may deter you from reading this review but I promise not to ruin it (too much) for you!

This is the first book of Blake Crouch that I have read. Blake Crouch released the Wayward Pines trilogy over the course of three years.  Pines in 2012, Wayward in 2013, and The Last Town in 2014.


US Secret Service agent Ethan Burke wakes up with transient amnesia in a strange town after a near-fatal accident. He is injured, disoriented and has a sinister feeling about the bucolic town of Wayward Pines he finds himself in. It feels oddly familiar yet so disquieting. The idyllic town of Idaho has clear blue skies, pristine Victorian houses framed by white picket fences, quaint stores, picture-perfect mountains and verdant pine forests all of which scream paradise but it is impossible to ignore the gnawing feeling that in this quintessential small American town, something is very off. With no one to help him or answer his questions and his memory failing him, he is completely alone. Where is his ID and cell phone? Why hasn’t his wife and son come for him? Why do the residents of the town view him with such contempt? Why are there no cars on the road? Why does nobody ever leave? Why do the phones not work the way they are supposed to? Why does the main road that leads out of town loop back right into town? And most ominous of all, what is the purpose of the huge electrified fence circling the town? Is it to keep residents from leaving or to prevent someone or something from entering?

Once his memory comes back to him, the burning questions on Ethan’s mind - how has a mission that began with tracking down his missing colleagues ended up like this? And more importantly, how does he get out of this place? 

Ethan has to battle with the complexities of the human psyche, conflicting personal feelings, a hostile environment, the constant risk of death, a murderous psychopath and a controlling megalomaniac before he can arrive at some answers and uncover the frightening truth.

One that no one wants to hear.

My thoughts…

It is hard to review this trilogy without giving away spoilers but I will try my best!

I started reading the first book Pines a week ago and I finished the third book, The Lost Town yesterday afternoon which (by my standards) is incredibly fast reading! If I blaze through a book it is usually because I can’t put it down and I’m in a big hurry to know what is going to happen next (like addictive TV series one tends to binge watch!) or else I have way too much time on my hands. Now if you know anything about me, you will know that the latter possibility is quite unlikely! With this series, it is indeed the former 😊

The first book, Pines, revolves around Ethan’s introduction to the remote town of Wayward Pines with no recollection of his past life and how he attempts to comes to terms with the creepiness of it all. This is a fast-paced adrenaline pumping thriller. The second book Wayward takes Ethan on a chilling journey as he discovers the mysteries and horrors of the town and struggles to keep up the façade of leading a normal life. The second book is primarily a murder mystery but it equips the reader with more information on the strange circumstances and provides more depth to the characters yet retains that same atmosphere of mystery and thrill. The third book The Lost Town reverts back to action and deals Ethan a big blow with one of his actions having devastating consequences. He goes about trying to set things right to the best of his ability but with limited resources to do so. The finale is the most graphic and disturbing of the lot. Out of the three, my favourite is definitely the second book - Wayward. In my opinion, it is the most absorbing and well-rounded of them all.

Huge points to Blake Crouch for the story. It is refreshingly different and does make you contemplate about your own life and that of the distant future. The style of writing is simple, consistent and fluid. The author doesn’t get too fancy with his words, get excessively descriptive or repetitive so it makes for easy-breezy reading. The novel is extremely well-paced. The plot is compelling and story moves at breakneck speed taking the reader on an epic adventure full of terrifying twists and turns. You simply don’t know what to expect next. I swear I was so stressed I thought I would develop an ulcer! The story is presented in chapters but occasionally it is broken up into timelines and in the last book, each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the characters. I love how disparate threads of the story have been so brilliantly linked together to form a cohesive narrative.

On the downside, I’ll admit, I didn’t buy into several aspects of the story. Although I work in the field of Science, I am no expert on the subject that the book is centered on but I still don’t think things that are described in the book will unfold the exact same way in real life. There is some semblance of what “could” happen but I do feel like it is a highly exaggerated version. I can accept it in the name of science fiction!

The characters come across as real and there aren’t too many of them (thank goodness!) so there is enough of character development over the course of the three books. The backstories help to flesh out the main characters and help the reader gain a better perspective of their motivations. Most of the characters are “human” to a fault exhibiting traits of goodness, deception, anger, betrayal, despair, jealousy, courage, hope and most importantly, the will to survive. For example, the main protagonist Ethan comes across as a jerk in various instances but at his core, he has a goodness in him and plenty of courage to boot. As infuriating as he can be, after all the trials and tribulations he has been through, the reader roots for him to pull through. There are only few very characters with absolutely no redeeming qualities who do not connect with the reader at all.

Blake Crouch also gets a brownie point for the ending from me. I hate it when I invest so much time in a book (and a trilogy at that!) and it ends in a way that disappoints me. The electrifying conclusion to Wayward Pines ties up all the loose ends and is infinitely better than anything I could have hoped for!

The words “integration” and “animation” have taken on a whole new meaning for me after this!

This masterful thriller is a captivating and entertaining read. Overall, it has been a wholesome and fulfilling experience. Highly recommended!

My rating for this series is

Have you read The Wayward Pines trilogy? What did you think of it? Leave a comment to let me know


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