Max Brooks is most famous for writing World War Z, an application of his Zombie Survival Guide to a the genre of oral history. While the Brad Pitt movie was poorly made, Brooks’ World War Z is probably more responsible than any other work for the recent popularity of Zombies. My prior interest in both ridiculous and scientific zombie works are certainly because of it.
So does Brooks repeat the trick with Bigfoot? Kind of…
Devolution takes place in the fictional town of “Green Loop, Washington,” which appears to be a fictionalized Black Diamonds, WA. I was never sure exactly how large “Green Loop” was supposed to be, but in the end, it doesn’t matter: the actual story is a small group of teleworkers suddenly cut off from civilization by a natural disaster, while simultaneously wild animals are encroaching on their homes (because of the same natural disaster).
All of Devolution would fit was one of the narrative threads in a World War Z style book. The hero is a young woman who learns survival in an extreme situation without preparing for it. Devolution suffers for this. What made the zombies in World War Z so fascinating is you saw their behavior from so many perspectives and their behavior in response to so many human strategies. In Devolution you are locked into one point-of-view, of a heroine who spends most of the book either ignorant of or preparing for Bigfoot.
Happily for me, Devolution takes local geography seriously. The highways, roads, cities, and even store locations referenced in the book make sense. The order of the breakdown of logistics, and its restoration, is sensible assuming a moderate explosion of Mt. Rainier. The author has done his homework in numerous areas (as the acknowledgments at the end of the book make clear), and it’s a well-crafted book.
There are numerous (and I suspect inadvertent) overlaps of the Rainier explosion described in the book, and the Covid outbreak in our world. Supply disruptions, riots, overworked rescuers, and general confusion feature in the book, but in a more realistic manner than most disaster stories.
I listened to Devolution primarily while bicycling or driving, and had a wonderful time of it. It’s inferior to both the author’s previous fiction and the other fiction I’ve read recently (the Tom Stranger stories), but is still a great way to spend some time.
I read Devolution in the Audible edition.