Title: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
Author: Max Brooks
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Literary
Date of Publication: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Del Rel Books
“As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.
But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.
In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.
Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.
Yet it is also far more than that.
Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.” – Goodreads
Plot & Language
What an amazing premise! I love the layout and the style of this book. The majority of the story is told through diary entries, with some interview excerpts and other forms of epistolary thrown into the mix. It genuinely read like a non-fiction book on the subject. Brooks uses a matter-of-fact tone in the excerpts from books on Bigfoot, etc. but the language flows quite conversationally during the diary entries. This narrative flow makes the story that much easier to get lost in.
My only complaint is that the book was comprised mostly of diary entries, with occasional excerpts from interviews and textbooks. I wanted more of these other forms of storytelling! I would have liked to have read more on the history of Bigfoot appearances. Nevertheless, Brooks takes advantage of this, and I found myself genuinely wondering what was real and what wasn’t. He quoted Frans de Waal and Jane Goodall, two of my favourite animal behaviour experts, and I know that the information in those quotes were real. He talked about evolution of man, including species such as Gigantopithecus, which I know to be true. But I don’t remember much else from my undergraduate anthropology classes, and this novel had me questioning and believing that Bigfoot could be real. That’s the sign of a talented writer!
I also loved the theme of the novel, which is reflected in the title, “Devolution”. Throughout the story, we question whether or not Bigfoot could exist, while being presented with information about evolution and primate behaviour. All the while, Kate and the others at Greenloop are struggling to survive, and we learn just what people are willing and capable of doing when their lives are in danger.
This story is compelling and quite haunting at times. It’s definitely a horror, but one that can be enjoyed by those who aren’t fans of the genre, as it has so much more to offer.
I did find that Kate and her husband, Dan, weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. While I’m glad that Brooks didn’t spend a lot of time in the diary entries having Kate talk about their past, their failing marriage (any more than was necessary), it did leave a lot of questions unanswered. For one: Why is Kate joining this group? I didn’t quite understand it, as she didn’t quite fit in with the others, and I would have benefited from a little more handholding in the beginning of the book, with Brooks possibly having her explain why she was there more than just “to fix their marriage”. I also wanted more about her past. We know that she had a brother, but what was their relationship like? What did she have back home to fight to survive for?
Side characters in the novel were quite interesting, and I enjoyed the occasional additional piece of information that the author provided, whether it was an interview or a diary entry—to provide more information into their backgrounds.
I recommend this book to those who want to read a compelling story about survival, and to those who want to dip their toes into epistolary fiction. A suspension of disbelief isn’t even required to enjoy this story about a first-hand eyewitness account of Bigfoot.
* Thank you to OLA Super Conference and Del Rey Books for the arc to review! *
Find the book:
Goodreads | Amazon