“Wayward” by Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer, 2013)

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Warning: This review contains spoilers from the first book in the series, Pines, so if you want to avoid being spoiled don’t read any further; you can also read the review for Pines here.

Welcome back to the quaint and lovable town of Wayward Pines where the population stays at a firm 461 and everything is beautiful and perfect all the time, except if you’ve gotten this far you know outside of this wonderful place, beyond the high electrified, protective fences is a barren world filled with post-human creatures known as “abnormals” looking to feast and gorge on anything they can find. But as long as we all keep our cool and pretend everything is hunky-dory and normal then no one will be the wiser, except for those guys hiding in the mountains watching our every move on their thousands of hidden TV cameras. Just sit back and enjoy the manufactured sounds of those crickets.

There’s a new sheriff in town, because the last one was getting a little too big for his boots and the big guy in charge decided to cut his career (and life) short. It’s our hero, Ethan Burke, looking to follow the protocol and keep everyone in line, like they’re supposed to, according to the regulations and rules they read when they first became citizens of Wayward Pines in the year 3813. For that he gets to come home to his lovely wife and son and live in the perfect house as well as a respected member of society.

Except Burke doesn’t like the way things are run in Wayward Pines; he doesn’t like that no one really knows what’s going on and that he has to keep lying to everyone. He doesn’t like the way the people in control are handling things, and he knows he’ll be putting his family at risk, but this isn’t real life for them anymore.

After the big secret is revealed at the end of Pines, Crouch takes the story to a new level presenting new challenges for the hero and choices to be made. Wayward is a thrilling sequel that tells more of the overall story if the Wayward Pines series and will keep readers hooked to every page, then demanding the third book in the series, The Last Town.

Originally written on October 5, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Wayward from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Pines” by Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer, 2012)

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There are two keys to good storytelling: 1) have a good story, 2) don’t give it all away early on. Blake Crouch skillfully adheres to these keys in the first volume of the Wayward Pines series, Pines, clueing in the reader to a dramatic story and sucking them right in, and then slowly giving information away so they can’t help but keep reading, turning those pages, burning to know how it all ends and what the big secret is.

Two secret service agents have gone missing in the small and idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke gets called in to investigate and find out what happened to his fellow agents. He also has a personal stake, since one of the agents is a former lover who he still cares deeply for, even though he’s a happily married man with a son. Burke wakes up to find himself in a hospital bed barely remembering who he is. As the pieces of his past and reason for being in Wayward Pines are slowly put together, he learns that the agent traveling with him was killed in the horrific car accident he was involved in. That’s why he doesn’t remember much.

But Burke is a good agent. He knows not everything is as clear as it seems, and there’s something really weird going on with the supposed perfect town of Wayward Pines. Everyone acts nice and courteous around him, but all a little too nice. And things seem in perfect condition, a little too perfect. Burke knows things just aren’t right, and when he can’t get hold of his ASAC in Seattle or get the sheriff to give him a straight answer about what happened to his wallet and ID, he starts to get scared for the first time. That’s when he grabs a car and tries to get out of town, but as he follows the main road out, he somehow finds himself driving right back into town. Apparently Wayward Pines won’t let him leave.

While the storyline is somewhat familiar, Pines is anything but predictable. Crouch cites the likes of Twin Peaks and The X-Files as inspiration for the series, as he keeps the conflict and adrenaline high. As for the true story of what is going on in Wayward Pines, you’ll have to read to the very end of the book, and you’ll have no clue what’s coming.

Originally written on September 29, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Pines from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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Olague (1): The Beginning of a New Book

So I’ve started a new book, and by “new book,” I mean I haven’t written a single word of it yet, but I’ve begun working on shaping it. Think of it as a sculpture and I’ve just started shaving along the sides and giving a rough overall shape. Using Wikidpad, I’m building my story bible for the novel, which is a great piece of software that lets you create lots of pages and cross-link and index them. It’s a good place to start putting all the details and facts of your book for easy reference instead of writing them all down on bits of paper or in numerous  notebooks.

The idea came to me last August, 2013, when I was doing a daily jog and every day I’d get more ideas and thoughts and scribble them down. Now I’m working on honing some of these ideas and shaping and making some decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of.

The book will also require me to invent a town, which I have begun with a map and will be starting to fill in the details of the town, then will come the characters.

The name of the town is also the name of the book, which is:


More to come, but for now it’s an exciting beginning time working on this book that feels like an accumulation of thoughts and ideas I’ve had over the last 15-20 years of my writing, bringing them altogether in this special book.

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“Spectrum” by Alan Jacobson (Open Road Media, 2014)


Karen Vail returns for the sixth installment, in Spectrum, and this time Alan Jacobson gives the readers a look at her past and how she went from being a NYPD rookie to one of the best FBI profiler’s. The book begins with an opening throwing the reader in the middle of a case where Vail has some big decisions to make, and then switching off in every other chapter about a Greek family beginning in the 1970s, and while it seems confusing at first, it all comes together at the end.

It’s 1995 and Vail is on her first day of the job as a rookie New York cop with a tough as nails veteran partner looking to please and do everything by the book, but also learn the way of the streets and do the hard work she needs to succeed. She is pulled into a murder case that, as the years pass, becomes a long drawn-out serial killer case. It remains unsolved for over two decades, and each time a new body is found – a woman with a slashed throat and jagged piece of glass protruding from her neck, cuts blinding her eyes, and a strange X and four letters carved into her – Vail is notified and brought in to investigate, to see if they can get any closer to finding out who the killer is.

The other part of the book focuses on a Greek family whose father is involved in a strange fight that turns bad and leads to them being ostracized from their culture. They have to leave their home and everything seems to be against them. Eventually they end up living on Ellis Island in an abandoned building, struggling to get by. The story seems out of place and not exactly clear to the reader, but halfway through the book the link becomes apparent as the reader is able to put the evidence together and understand what the author is doing.

Jacobson clearly had a lot of fun writing Spectrum and readers familiar with Karen Vail will really enjoy reading her history, not just in how she climbed the ranks of the NYPD, then joined the FBI and eventually became a profiler, but also in her personal life with her husband who became her ex-husband and how she raised a child on her own while advancing her career. Like a gripping case, Spectrum has all the pieces and evidence there, and if the reader does some good detective work, they will put it all together and know who the killer is by the end, or be pleasantly surprised. Spectrum is the best Karen Vail novel yet and whether you’re familiar with the series or this is the first one you’re reading, you’ll be hooked from cover to cover.

Originally written on October 5, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Spectrum from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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