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Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre


Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

Devolution (noun): the act or fact of devolving; passage onward from stage to stage. Biology: degeneration.

The latest novel from Max Brooks is subtitled “A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.” When you take a look at the book’s cover and then compare that information to the textbook definition of the word “devolution,” you can see the connection that Brooks is going for. In much the same way as he did with WORLD WAR Z and THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, he appears to provide us with a primer to use in the event that any of us are attacked by a wild Sasquatch.

Whether you use the term Sasquatch, Yeti or the more commonly known Bigfoot, it is easy to see that much of mankind is consumed with seeking out answers about these huge creatures that apparently share the planet with us. The same week that this novel released, I happened to see “Expedition Bigfoot” and “Bigfoot Is Real” on Travel Channel. Amidst all the cheesiness and weak scares was a comment that really hit home for me. A Bigfoot “expert” indicated that it would be both ignorant and impossible to think that we as humans are aware of every inch of the planet on which we live. There may be species either real or legendary that inhabit those dark places where man has never tread.

"[DEVOLUTION] fuses the science and anthropology of a Michael Crichton or a Preston & Child novel with the thrills and chills of great pulp horror fiction."

Brooks and his book are far from anticlimactic. He writes in a style similar to a “found footage” film where we are seeing what happened after already knowing the end result --- in this case, a major earthquake caused by nearby Mount Rainier in Washington State. This event caused quite an uproar in the lives of not only people living in nearby Seattle and its suburbs, but also the various animals that called the surrounding wilderness home. Right in the middle of nowhere, in the woods outside Mount Rainier, exists an isolated, high-end, high-tech eco-community called Greenloop, which consists of six homes, a Common House in the center, one road in and out, and a small helipad.

The introduction to the story begins like this: "Bigfoot destroys town.” Over the next 282 pages, we learn what happens to the residents of Greenloop following the Mount Rainier eruption, and are given firsthand accounts of their interaction with the Sasquatch/Bigfoot species. The primary evidence used to understand exactly what transpired is the journal of Greenloop resident Kate Holland. She and her husband, Dan, reside in one of the six homes. The other residents are Tony and Yvette Durant; Carmen Perkins and her wife, Effie, and their daughter, Palomino; Dr. Alex Reinhardt; Vincent and Bobbi Boothe; and a very interesting woman known simply as Mostar. Brooks provides a map with the layout of Greenloop, which I found myself flipping back to often.

Tony, the founder of Greenloop, mentioned in an interview that the intention was to create the next Levittown. Growing up primarily in Queens and Long Island, I recognized that this village in Nassau County was intended to be the “perfect” suburban prototype for prosperity. Greenloop is a miniscule version of Levittown with many more advantages at their disposal. The residents fend for themselves and live day to day, living off the land and following strict ecological guidelines as written out by the founder and the operating board --- which is pretty much all the residents with the exception of young Palomino. They have been living with the regular tremors from Mount Rainier, and the existence of Sasquatch/Bigfoot is one of the furthest things from their minds.

There remains throughout the entire read an undercurrent and apprehension of fear. You quite simply never know when bad things are going to happen. In much the same way as director Steven Spielberg did with the classic film Jaws, you know what the story is about, but you don't see the full shark until the second half of the movie. In DEVOLUTION, Brooks does not even hint at the inevitable Sasquatch/Bigfoot until 100 pages or so in, and you will not get a “full” look at them until much later. Without spoiling anything, I will throw out there that we have more than one Sasquatch/Bigfoot to worry about here.

It all starts with a roar --- and these monsters have a bellowing one that shakes the walls of the Greenloop domiciles. What makes the novel even more interesting is the interjection of various interviews and cited research about Sasquatch/Bigfoot. At one point, while referencing Steve Morgan's The Sasquatch Companion, there is a tie-in made to the modern-day Sasquatch with its ancestor Gigantopithecus, which died out roughly 100,000 years ago. We also learn that Darwin himself lamented about the imperfection of fossils, leaving us to question what actually happened with this species during the last 100,000 years and what they have evolved into now.

In another interview, Frank McCray Jr. tries to make sense of the Sasquatch Massacre by stating: “Maybe some instinct told them it was time to swap evolution for devolution, reach back to who they were to reclaim what was theirs.” Although it may take some time until the big action happens, once it starts, it is relentless. It is also not for the faint of heart as Brooks does not hold back on the violent attack on Greenloop, which takes place over several days.

DEVOLUTION most definitely will be a major beach read --- even if that beach is your own home during our current lockdown --- and I'm confident that a feature film will not be far behind. It fuses the science and anthropology of a Michael Crichton or a Preston & Child novel with the thrills and chills of great pulp horror fiction.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 19, 2020

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
by Max Brooks