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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wayward by Blake Crouch (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Order “WaywardHERE
Read an excerpt HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Pines" by Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Eerie” by Blake and Jordan Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Run” by Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Serial Killers Uncut” by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Interview with Blake Crouch

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Blake Crouch was born in Statesville, North Carolina and graduated in 2000 with degrees in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. He has written four previous novels and a host of short stories. Two of his stories have been optioned for film adaptation. Blake currently lives in Durango, Colorado with his wife.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden...except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.

None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.

FORMAT/INFO: Wayward is 324 pages long divided over twenty-seven numbered chapters which are spread out over five sections. Narration is in the third-person via Ethan Burke, Theresa Burke, David Pilcher, Tobias Hassler, and Pamela. Wayward is the second book in the Wayward Pines series and it’s highly imperative to read Pines before this one. The book also features an acknowledgements page and also includes a listing of Blake Crouch’s bibliography.

September 23, 2013 marked the overall Paperback and e-book publication of Wayward via Thomas and Mercer. Cover art and design provided by Jeroen Ten Berge.

ANALYSIS: Wayward is the sequel to Pines and a book that was highly anticipated and yet out-scored my anticipation. Firstly before even I begin my review, I would like to announce that to even discuss the blurb will be spoilery for the first book Pines. So those folks who haven't read the first book and don't want their read ruined in the least. STOP and go read Pines...

Now for those of you who have read and loved Pines, welcome and I must say you will love the second outing by Blake Crouch as he explores the strange town of Wayward Pines and its inhabitants. This book further illuminates the town of Wayward Pines through Ethan Burke but with a crucial difference, he’s an insider now unlike the previous volume wherein he was the enemy. Ethan after the events of the previous books has now been elevated to the position of Sheriff and is tasked with the town’s safety. Sheriff Ethan has seen what truly lies outside of the town's boundaries and it is forcing him to co-operate with the town's creator and protector so as to speak. After facing the end of the barrel in the last book, he finds himself quite perturbed to be on the other side and forcing people to do what he ultimately disobeyed. He has gotten his family back but is still irked by all that is hidden from the majority of the town’s population. The story though begins when a murder occurs and it falls upon Ethan to investigate the death.

Blake Crouch is a veritable genius, there I said it. Not only did he write a crackerjack thriller, with Pines he also created a smooth amalgamation of SF, thriller and mystery genres. In this setting, he further springs a couple more surprises with Wayward. At the end of Pines, I was wondering where he would take the story and here Blake presents the logical path. Ethan Burke as a character is haunted by all he has seen and witnessed but there’s plenty more secrets and in this book, the author reveals a whole lot more. Firstly the focus is on characterization, in this book the characters showcased beside Burke are a motley bunch beginning with his ex-partner Kate, his wife Theresa and son Ben, the people who are running Wayward Pines and many more. Each of them is given a proper personality and with multiple plot twists, further facets of their selves are exposed. The book then further explores the community of residents and their psyche. The author has some nasty surprises in this book about the characters that we have already met as well as for new ones. What I loved best was how the author exposed the story and characters through the use of flashback as was the case with Pines but believe me in this, there are some wild shockers.

Secondly with what was exposed as the main reason for the existence and current security levels for Wayward Pines, it became imperative for the author to build on that front. Blake Crouch doesn’t disappoint and manages to give us a glimpse of the world beyond and I believe this will be quite important in the books to follow (at this point, my assumption is that the author will have multiple books in this series). The world settings are distinctly expanded upon and there’s a quintessential “Jurassic Park” vibe to be found here. What I enjoyed was how the author builds up the tension and yet manages to showcase bits and pieces throughout the story until its explosive climax which ends on dual cliffhangers (of sorts) one on a personal level for our main protagonist & the second on an existential level. The climax is shattering to say the least and will rightfully make you clamor for the third book instantaneously as that I believe was Blake Crouch's intent after all.

Again I didn’t have any complaints from this volume or the series so far. Sure some things or plot points stretch credibility but as is the case with thrillers and SF, readers have to accept certain improbabilities. Not that there are outlandish mistakes that just make the plot crumble. Lastly with this series being made into a TV miniseries, I can only imagine the popularity once it comes out in 2014. So do yourself a favor and get reading as then you will be able to enjoy the TV series even more.

CONCLUSION: A thoroughly satisfying read that combines a lot of genres and tropes, Wayward will have turning pages to see how it all ends. The climax though takes things to a whole different level and leaves you desperately craving for the next volume. Wayward is another crackerjack thriller from the mind of one of the best thrillers writers out there, do not miss it!

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