“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch (Random House, 2016)

From the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy (now a TV series) comes Blake Crouch’s follow up novel which is in every way as addictive and compelling as his previous works.

“Are you happy with your life?”

These are the final words Jason Dessen hears before he is abducted by a complete stranger. The man takes him to a warehouse where he injects him with something. The man is wearing a mask, obscuring his identity. Dessen falls unconscious. When he comes to he is strapped to a gurney and surrounded by people in hazmat suits. He has no clue who anyone is, but they all seem to recognize him. He manages to escape and return to his home where he finds his house filled with different items, furnished and decorated differently. It is his home but at the same time not. According to photos and what he can tell, he is also not married to the wife he loves very much, and doesn’t have a son he loves more than anything in the world.

The mysterious thrill of Dark Matter folds over and over on itself, like a thick taffy plot, that keeps the reader’s eyes glued to the page, not having any clue where the story is going to go next. The story goes places that other stories that have dealt with this similar subject before rarely dare to go, pushing the limits of imagination. Crouch clearly had a lot of fun writing Dark Matter, and the readers will have an equal amount of fun reading it.

Originally written on March 26, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Dark Matter from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Last Town” by Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer, 2014)

The Last Town

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

With the cliffhanger at the end of Wayward all hell has broken loose in the once idyllic town of Wayward Pines, and since the year is 3813 and the world is filled with terrifying creatures that thirst for blood, it gives the term “all hell” a perhaps truer meaning.

The residents of Wayward Pines now know the truth, thanks to former Secret Service agent Ethan Burke. They know the lies they have been told, that the world they thought they knew no longer exists and that they are all in grave danger from the “abnormals” beyond the electrified fence. Only now the man in charge isn’t happy with Burke and has decided to punish the town and sabotage his life-long project by turning off the fences and throwing open the gate.

The abnormals come charging in looking for food and smelling it strongly on the wind. It’s up to Burke as sheriff to bring the town together and protect them however he can. Lives will be sacrificed in large numbers, and the question hanging in the reader’s mind is how Burke is going to firstly deal with all the abnormals, and then secondly continue instilling the will to live in the people now that they know what this world consists of.

The third volume in the Wayward Pines series has a little less explosive reveals than the first two books, but is nevertheless nonstop action with some plot twists the reader never sees coming, as well as a wonder at how it is all going to be resolved at the end.

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.

“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.

“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.