I didn’t much care for the opening book in the Wayward Pines trilogy. Although I appreciated author Blake Crouch’s efforts at recreating the outright weirdness of Lynch’s Twin Peaks (and I too have missed the pie scenes for many years), the first book just didn’t have enough story in it to satisfy me. This one is altogether different. We know the situation. The major players are in place. And things get really very interesting.
Wayward Pines reminds me strongly of The Village, the one where The Prisoner was sent and where white beachball-sized bubbles keep the population sufficiently cowed into accepting their oddly artificial, smile-and-stay-schtum humdrum lives. So there’s a satisfying familiarity to life in Wayward, as new sheriff Ethan goes about playing both sides; gaining trust from the inhabitants and their manipulators alike, while rebuilding his relationship with a wife and son he barely knows, dodging surveillance mics and subcutaneous implants . The story bounds along, intriguingly switching perspective to past times, and to a returning colleague, battling the menacing threats outside the fence to get back to Wayward Pines.
The result is a much stronger book than the opening episode, although there’s no getting away from it: you do need to read the first to understand the significance of the second. This is one sequel which won’t work as a stand-alone even though it’s better than its predecessor. It is much more layered; feels more original and less derivative, and opens up some truly interesting storylines for the concluding chapter. I still can’t quite credit the underlying scientific principle (see footnote: it’s very spoilery so read the books first) but am happy to suspend that disbelief for the pleasure of returning to Wayward Pines a third time, and watching all the suspended shoes drop.
It’s the whole 1800 years thing that gets me. 1800 years? To devolve the human genome back to something more basic than Neanderthal? Are you having a giraffe? 2000 years is nuffink in evolutionary terms. I mean, cats haven’t developed speech in twice that time period. A hundred thousand years might have been credible. Or better yet, some intervention to explain the radical degradation. Say. Maybe that’s the next book…