Book Review: Devolution by Max Brooks

From the author of World War Z comes a frightening new book with scary new monsters. In Devolution, Brooks tackles Bigfoot.

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now. The journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing—and too earth-shattering in its implications—to be forgotten. In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it. Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and, inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that. 

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us—and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity. 

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it—and like none you’ve ever read before.

(Description from Amazon)

When I saw that Max Brooks was writing a new novel I was so excited, because I loved World War Z. I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

The key difference between this book and World War Z (WWZ) is that the story is primarily told from one perspective while WWZ is told from multiple. I liked how the one perspective made this novel feel personal, as opposed to an entirely historical text.

But, don’t get me wrong. This book has a ton of factual and historical knowledge of primates in it to help create a realistic Bigfoot. Brooks makes the legend believable. There are snippets from books on apes and “interviews” with experts in the field. I like how that is mixed in with Katie’s journal entries. In the book you read a section of her journal, then it is broken down using the factual evidence of primates, this makes it feel like you’re reading an actual case file.

My main issue was that this book isn’t that scary. I was hoping for WWZ levels of scary, but this book didn’t deliver that. I will place some of the blame on myself though. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, right in the hub of Bigfoot. I used to go Bigfoot hunting on the weekends with my brother and dad, maybe I’m just not afraid of Bigfoot because I’ve been so desensitized to it.

This book is more stomach turning than scary in my opinion. There were parts that were scary strictly because of violent gorey death. It made me anxious because it forced me to imagine dying a horrible death. The Bigfoot themselves are something I have imagined since I was a small child, and the only thing I find frightening about them is that they’re capable of ripping me in half or popping my head off. The legend of Bigfoot is very much alive and constantly speculated about, so to me it was just another way of imagining that they could be real.

Fun fact: I worked at Ripley’s Believe It or Not on the Newport Bayfront, and they had a huge wax Bigfoot standing in the entry way. I had buttons to make him growl and I also had to brush his hair once a day.

Isn’t he cute?

Back to the review. One thing I really loved was that the novel expertly captured the essence of the Pacific Northwest. From the landscape,

“These trees are happy. Yes, I said it. Why wouldn’t they be, in this rich, soft, rain-washed soil. A few with light, speckled bark and golden, falling leaves. They mix in among the tall, powerful pines. Some with their silver-bottom needles or the flatter, softer kind that brushed gently against me as I walked by. Comforting columns that hold up the sky, taller than anything in L.A., including those skinny wavy palms that hurt my neck to look up at.”

To the culture,

““Black hole sun…,” singing above the rush of water, “won’t you come, and wash away the rain…” He was scrubbing away, head bouncing to his own rhythm.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Black Hole Sun, it’s a song by the grunge band Soundgarden. Grunge was huge in Seattle in the 90’s.

I just love that Brooks captured the atmosphere of my home so well. It made me believe that Brooks put in a ton of research and wanted the novel to be as authentic as possible.

I will make one final point, this book has a lot to say about human nature and how primitive it can be. One quote really stands out,

“Adversity introduces us to ourselves.”

We as humans don’t know who we are until we are in a life or death situation. You don’t know if you’ll kill to protect yourself or if you’ll run. This book explores that question in depth, and it is a survivors tale like none other.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I think this book is 4.5 stars, but Goodreads and Amazon don’t accept half stars so I’m bumping it up to 5.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book for yourself follow this link. I will get a portion of the profit at no extra cost to you. My blog thanks you.

Have you heard of Bigfoot? Or are they called something else where you’re from? Let me know in the comments.

Published by

Savannah Worman

My name is Savannah, you can call me Sav. I am a recent Oregon State graduate, Siletz tribal member, and aspiring book critic. Join me on this exploration of the literary world around us. You’re sure to find something you like. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments feel free to hit me up on the contact page! I live in the Pacific Northwest with my boyfriend, my Havanese/Aussie Shepard Stark, my Jack Russell/Shih Tzu Daenerys, and my son Finn.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Devolution by Max Brooks”

  1. I can’t believe you had to brush Bigfoot’s hair 😂 My friend used to be Sherlock Holmes at Ripley’s in London.
    I really liked this WWZ but I’m not a huge fan of books that are written in the style of documents. I’m curious as to why he’s stuck to this format!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brushing Bigfoots hair was one of the strangest things I’ve ever done. Being Sherlock Holmes would be really cool, but I am not a good actress 😅
      The fake documentary is a really strange writing style. I’ve tried it, and it’s really hard to do it effectively. I applaud Brooks for doing it so well, but it is really weird. He must really enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

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