Book Review: Pines by Blake Crouch


Image courtesy BlakeCrouch.com

As a writer, I read a great number of books in all genres.  However, science fiction is near and dear to my nerdy little heart.  I don’t just love any type of science fiction, but love the type that not only has sound science but also a message that comments on humanity.

This is why I loved Pines by Blake Crouch.

The novel begins with Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke face down near a river, amnesiac, who spends the first part of the novel trying to figure out who he is and why he has ended up in the sleepy town of Whispering Pines.  We follow on pins and needles as he wanders from one very dangerous situation to the next, the faintest suggestion that something is always not quite right with the town and its residents.  He meets several residents of the town who are indeed creepy and strange, and one woman in particular who claims to have arrived in town in 1985, but has not seemed to age and knows nothing of iPhones.

As the story unfolds, Ethan learns more and more about the mysterious town and its residents, and soon must flee for his life before an angry mob.  The novel leads on, taking us to a place that we think we are safe and then shattering that safety with even more strange and horrifying events that border on the surreal.  When Ethan finally finds out the truth behind what has happened to him, the message that Crouch makes about the human condition is clear.

It is what good science fiction always does: hold up a mirror before the face of humanity in order to make us examine ourselves closely.

The novel reminds me of one of those great Twilight Zone episodes where we follow a character throughout only to be told at the end that what we have seen this entire time is a lie.  It reads like David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks from which the author admits in the afterward he drew inspiration.  The novel is worth reading again after finding out the truth about the setting only to see how Crouch wove the story together.  In this way it is structured much like Shutter Island.

If you enjoy a good science fiction yarn or even a horror tale, this book is for you.  Those who read mystery novels will enjoy it as well, as Crouch has done a masterful job weaving this story together.  Check it out on Amazon or at a book seller near you!

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