Book review by Aarene Storms: Devolution

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Devolution: a firsthand account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre 
by Max Brooks
audiobook read by a full cast

Kate Holland is a self-acknowledged neurotic mess, and she narrates much of this book via her journal, written as letters to her therapist back in California. 

Kate and her husband Dan move to a tiny "eco-community" outside of Seattle: a modern, wi-fi driven, off-grid tech paradise in the Mount Rainier foothills. 

Sure, the mountain has been rumbling, the ground has been shaking, and the sky is full of vented steam, but the designers of Greenloop have thought of everything the residents could possibly need ... right?

Sure enough, the mountain erupts, the cell phones stop working and lahar flows destroy the only road out of Greenloop. 

The residents, lacking expertise, access to information, and even basic tools like a shovel or a bucket, reluctantly realize that they will have to actively problem-solve in order to survive a long snowbound winter.

Then, Kate finds the first enormous footprint, surrounded by the fresh blood and shattered bones of a mountain lion.

This book reads like something Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) would have written:
a. take a bunch of experts in disparate fields (none of which are immediately useful)
b. throw them into a survival situation
c. make them battle science/technology gone awry

As in the Crichton books, most (if not all) of the main characters assume that technology is reliable, and that nature is as sweet and tame as a Disney movie. Both assumptions are utterly, completely wrong.

Kate's journal entries are interspersed with interviews, news articles and commentary, which keeps the pages turning. A full cast narrates the audiobook, with NPR journalists Terry Gross and Kai Ryssdal playing fictional versions of themselves. 

There are a few flubs that Pacific Northwesterners will notice, especially pronunciations of local place-names.

THIS BOOK CONTAINS SCARY AND YUKKY SCENES. I was able to read it by skimming and skipping some parts, but if you are a timid reader (like me), I recommend that you read something else. There is also violence, cussing, death, and a few minor sexual situations.

If you like action, adventure, thriller-horror books with a local flavor, you will like this.

Aarene Storms is a librarian who reads and reviews books for all ages. She can be reached at


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