Book Review: Pines by Blake Crouch

Quite a few suspenseful and thrilling moments in this story. Ethan Burke wakes up by a river in a remote town, Wayward Pines, with no idea as to how he got there. As he struggles to string together his recent past while suffering injuries from what he believes were caused by a car crash, the town’s sheriff and the hospital psychiatrist attempt to block Ethan’s investigation. And escaping the town seems to be out of the question.

What I like most about this book is that I can sympathize with both Ethan and the story’s antagonists. Ethan, of course, wants to get back to his family and his life. But over the time the story plays out we also discover that he has faults, making him human. The same can be said for the antagonists who are not just mindless villains: They actually want to make the world a better place.

The central conflict rises slowly in the first several chapters where one complication after another only leaves Ethan and the reader more confused. Be patient, as this story really picks up steam in the middle and beyond. And an occasional poorly written metaphor may make you groan but it’s forgivable.

Don’t try to plug this book into a genre. If you must, consider this speculative fiction. But with a mystery to solve, elements of a thriller and an overshadowing sci-fi tale, it’s probably best to label Pines by Blake Crouch a good story.

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