Barker’s Book Blather, 2016.11

Okay, this bit of blathering about my November reading selections is long-delayed. Between prepping for the holidays and generally running around like my hair was on fire since November 8th, this review was put on the back burner. But here it is, at last.

Wayward Pines trilogy (Pines, Wayward, The Last Town) – Blake Crouch. After surviving a serious car accident, Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke wakes up in the hospital of Wayward Pines, Idaho, and quickly realizes that things in town are amiss.

I started November by plowing rather quickly through the Wayward Pines trilogy. The simplistic writing style definitely makes it a fast read, with long passages of sentence fragments dominating the text. I liked the story well-enough and the style definitely kept things moving, so this isn’t really meant as a slam, but it’s definitely not a series to read for the love of language.

You read it for the new ideas and for the Big Reveals. You will need to suspend your disbelief on cables several miles above ground to get around some of the holes and plot points. Just don’t think too much about the details of how the town works and enjoy the ride.

I did think that the level of sustained physical exertion maintained by Ethan, particularly in the wake of numerous injuries, strained credulity almost more than the overall plot. After ALL THAT, I’m not sure a human could ever make it through the. . . climb. . . at the end of book #1.

There are several Big Reveals in the series, the two biggest at the end of the first and third book, which I don’t want to spoil. I will say that I did not see the twist at the end of book #1 coming at all, and I only realized a couple of pages in advance of the end of book #3 what the solution was.

It’s a fun read that doesn’t require much introspection or reasoning as it carries you along. This made it a good choice after my history- and literature-heavy October reading selections. I was looking for something light and quick and entertaining, and this series fit the bill.

The three books are all short, lightning fast reads, so just plan to read them all in one go.

I Am Legend – Richard Matheson. You likely know the basic premise of the story from previous movie adaptations, most recently the Will Smith version. Robert Neville is the last human being on Earth after everyone else has been infected by bacteria that cause vampirism. Robert spends his daytime hours securing his house, gathering supplies, searching for and killing sleeping vampires, and trying to discover the cause and a cure for the epidemic. At night he locks himself up tight in his house and drinks while the vampires taunt him and look for a way to get in.

Aside from the obvious set-up similarities, the rest of the details of the book are different from the Will Smith movie, and it’s definitely worth the read, especially when you keep in mind that it was written in 1954 and was very advanced in that regard.

Matheson does a good job of conveying just how claustrophobic infinite space and solitude can be, and I liked that Robert is more of an Every Man factory worker type, rather than a trained scientist like Smith’s character. It makes this Robert’s efforts to discover the cause of the contagion all the more touching and compelling as the last ditch efforts of a desperate person.

Unlike the twists in the Wayward Pines series, the twist at the end of this book is much more of a thinking person’s reveal, with more cause for introspection.

I read this book because I was looking for a relatively short read before I was to begin the tome that has occupied me ever since (foreshadowing!), but, starting it as I did a few days after the election, it was also surprisingly relevant as I continue to contemplate questions of normalcy, and the pull towards and fight against normalization.

And suddenly he thought, I’m the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man.