Taking time to reconnect with nature is an excellent way to spend a vacation – it clears your head, lets you get back to your roots. What people tend to forget is that while nature is splendorous and beautiful, it’s still wild. Feral animals roam the hillsides just waiting for a tasty snack to come along. And yet, people would like to believe we’ve evolved far beyond needing to access the survival instincts we were all born with. Instead, we’ve all signed a social contract to embrace technology and all its creature comforts, eschewing killing for survival.
Well, then Max Brooks definitely flipped that idea on its head. The bestselling author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide unleashes his newest gripping novel – Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre, introducing a frightening version of the legendary bigfooted beast. More than that, it attempts to reexamine the entire Darwinist model – survival of the fittest.
Kate Holland and her husband take up her brother’s offer to spend time at his home in an isolated but innovative eco-village called Greenloop set near the base of Mt. Rainier. From the moment they arrive, Holland’s charmed by the beauty of the outdoors, a huge difference from their urban home in LA. There’s great WIFI signal, hiking trails as far as the eye can see, and a cute pair of hummingbirds flitter around the purple wildflowers. What more could anyone with OCD tendencies ask for?
The founder of Greenloop, Tony Durant, and his wife, Yvette, are the cover models of health and vitality. The eco-village is a technological marvel – revolutionary living at its best. The homes are arranged in a circle, with one common house in the center. Food orders are placed online and flown in by drones, the homes are built from 100 percent recycled materials, and energy is harvested through solar panels and biogas from the residents’ poop. The carbon footprint for this community is minimal, as to not contribute to climate change.
Everything about the idyllic community sounds perfect, as utopias often do. That is, until Mt. Rainier erupts, spreading deadly ash and chaos everywhere. Because of course it would do something like that.
When your connection to the outside world is severed and supplies aren’t being shipped in, you get to see the real person beneath the façade they’ve created to live in society. People you expected to lead – aka the Durants – falter under the specter of deniability. They want to maintain a level of positivity, that everything will be fine. You know, the love and light people. But that all changes when a group of hungry Bigfoots come a-knockin’. It’s here when we witness the emergence of a Lord of the Flies-style hierarchy between the surviving group, one where picking sides can mean the difference between life and death – or worse.
Similar to Brooks’ other books, he relates different accounts from different perspectives – chiefly Holland herself, including interviews with her brother as well as the rangers. This gives readers an intimate and personal view throughout the entire ordeal to see whether those repressed animal instincts are still intact or not. When it comes down to survival and a battle of the fittest, it’s truly kill or be killed. What good is technology when a wild animal is searching for food and you’re the only tasty thing in its sight?
And like his other books fans should expect plenty of red-smeared carnage when the title characters finally make their loud and triumphant appearance. These aren’t the kid-friendly Sasquatch like Abominable. You’ve been warned.
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre is an enthralling tale about encountering your true self in order to survive. Brooks’ familiar journaling style does an amazing job capturing the senses on chronicling the “devolution” of this group of humans from ecological warriors back to their evolutionary roots. It’s a fascinating study of human behavior and how survival of the fittest doesn’t always tell the whole story. To truly survive in the wild, you may have to tap into your inner caveman and learn to kill.