Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2020
The formula here is simple enough. Take a group of what one might call "techno-hippies," place them in a state of the art planned community with all the gizmos one could ever want but without so much as a tool or a firearm in the entire neighborhood, isolate them by means of a natural disaster, introduce monsters, and see what happens. The result is a novel that has a surprising amount of depth, intellectualism even, than I would ever have expected from a Bigfoot story. Far from being just a fun horror story about a monster in the woods (though it certainly has plenty of that element), this book provides a rich and timely commentary on our growing dependence upon technology and our fading self-sufficiency.

Admittedly, the book is slow to open. For the first third or so, I didn't think I was going to particularly care for it. I don't mind a novel that's a bit of a slow burn, but I honestly didn't find any of the characters particularly likable. They weren't only incompetent to deal with their situation, but they actively took pride in their own incompetence. However, as the novel progresses, the tension slowly starts to amp up and the characters begin to develop (sometimes grudgingly) into functional and adaptable human beings. What I initially perceived as a flaw in the novel ultimately grew into one of its assets because it provides fertile ground to explore how crisis shapes human psychology.

Brooks' "documentarian" style of writing is not always my favorite, but it mostly serves well here. Part of the problem with any first person narrative is that it immediately raises questions of how much the narrator's knowledge of the story's conclusion affects his or her telling of the earlier stages of the narrative. In this case, the story is told primarily through journal entries, occasionally punctuated by snippets of other supporting texts. Because the narrator is never more than a day or so ahead of the reader, this helps keep the tension alive, though there's a certain trade-off in that the epistolary format necessarily telegraphs certain elements of the story's climax right from the first page. Nevertheless, though *much* of the ending was entirely predictable, the *details* of the ending were still interesting to discover page-by-page, and the ultimate conclusion, wasn't quite what I expected.

I ultimately found it to be an imperfect but still quite enjoyable read. Once you get past a sluggish opening, you'll likely want to finish the remaining two-thirds or so of the novel in a single sitting. And perhaps some readers will, in addition to enjoying a classic monster story, take the novel's subtext as a warning and learn to be a little more self-sufficient and a little less techno-dependent. Or so we can hope.
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