I had this book in my horror pile for nearly a year and only now I had some time to spare and read this. While it’s not a horror masterpiece, it does allow you to get drawn in and suffocate in questions, much like the main character is. Ethan Burke, Secret Service, has been sent to Wayward Pines to investigate the disappearance of two of his colleagues.
He gets into a car crash on the way in and after waking up in the hospital, he starts to realise that his surroundings are unreal in more ways than one.
Because we are following Ethan, and he hit his head in the accident, we don’t really know whether what he sees or hears is actually the truth or just a follow-up trauma response. He can’t find his wallet to prove his identity or pay for things, his gun is missing and he only has the clothes on his back.
Combine this with lax security at the local hospital and you have a confused half-naked man walking through the streets of a mountain retreat looking like a mad-man, talking about Secret Service and car accidents. He does go to the sheriff’s office to collect his things but they’re not there. He does try to call his wife but all he gets is voicemail. He tries to call his boss but he can’t get past a receptionist who says his boss is away and won’t take his call any further.
He does get some help from a bartender at the local greasy spoon but she’s nowhere to be found the next day and the address she gave him took him to a house outside of town which had the decomposing remains of the first Secret Agent who went there, who by the looks of it suffered a pretty traumatic death.
Each step toward the truth takes Ethan further from the world he knows, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.
Wayward Pines is a perfect vision of wholesome small town America – lovely Victorian buildings, white picket fences, neighbourhood cook outs, welcoming inhabitants etc but, as he finds it increasingly hard to contact the outside world, Ethan begins to see there is something very dark and nasty lurking beneath the picturesque surface of this town.
Pines, the first of the Wayward Pines trilogy is a mad mix of thriller, horror, fantasy and sci fi. It’s always hard to see where the story is going (a big plus) and the underlying concept is imaginable (if you imagine hard!)
I’m not surprised this got turned into a television series. It was probably written with that in mind. The author cited Twin Peaks as a major influence for this book and referred to other shows such as Lost as coming close to the wonderful experience David Lynch’s masterpiece has been to him as a child. This story is set-up in pretty much the same way as these well-known televised mysteries.
PS: The book reminded me of the Love, Death and Robots episode where they had farmers on a moon where they did farming under little domes. Pines isn’t very much different – an isolated community, hundred of years into the future with people who are kept oblivious of their timeline in order to assure the survival of mankind. With this in mind, Pines is a pretty awesome post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel with hints of mystery and horror and I truly recommend it.