Review: Run – Blake Crouch

SYNOPSIS: 5 D A Y S A G O
A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…
Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.
A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.
A mass of school shootings.
Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.
Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.

4 D A Y S A G O
The murders increased ten-fold…

3 D A Y S A G O
The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…

2 D A Y S A G O
The killers began to mobilize…

Y E S T E R D A Y
All the power went out…

T O N I G H T
They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N – via Goodreads

Yep, this one just wasn’t really my cup of tea. It just… got really old and repetitive quickly. As is typical of a Blake Crouch novel, you are dumped smack into the middle of things and it sure as hell doesn’t slow down as you keep going.

Run starts quick enough, and you read for ages before you even get to a place where you sort of understand that the family is being hunted down and that it has something to do with some night time astral viewing of sorts, and that is pretty much all you get. The running away gets repetitive after awhile, as survival is the name of the game, which is all good and well, but it has been done much better in the Wayward Pines novels by Crouch, for instance.

I also feel that while the violence makes its way onto the pages, you are never truly afraid for the characters, and it comes across as rushed and underplayed, except for one specific scene (which, horrific as it was, was also rushed through).

I don’t really have an awful lot to say about this, as there is not much to say other than it is an okay, if slightly unimaginative survival horror. If you are looking for a quick filler book that does not need too much investment and is something you will burn through super fast, Run would be the pick for that.

Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

SYNOPSIS: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. – via Goodreads

Man, a while ago Mettel Ray spoke of Dark Matter on her blog, and I decided it would be my next Crouch read, as I have a few on my Kindle and just didn’t know which one to go with, and man, I am glad I went with this one. I really don’t want to say too much about this book to avoid spoilers or to give away too much of the story, so I guess we will see how this review goes down.

Dark Matter is a super fun read. I was hooked essentially from the off. It took a few pages to get rolling, and I was wondering if I was sitting with another version of Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy, when suddenly it kicked into overdrive and built a truly fascinating story for itself.

The book might have been a tad too long, but that didn’t slow down the reading, just made it a touch more bloated than it should have been. The story is sharp and drags you in and really gets you thinking about a lot of things. Jason is a character you sympathise with and want to see succeed, but you are also not entirely sure exactly how he is supposed to emerge victorious, or what is really going on.

Okay, I don’t really want to say anything more, except that this is a great read. Dark Matter is smart, engaging, twisty and extremely entertaining. Without a doubt my favourite Blake Crouch  novel to date. It wasn’t missing anything, and delivered the goods in a solid fashion. I can highly recommend this one.

Review: Wayward – Blake Crouch

Wayward Pines #2

SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden…except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.
None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining. – via Goodreads

So I returned to this after completing Pines, a book that was entertaining enough, albeit predictable and messy. Wayward brings more to the table, though it is still flawed. The fragmented sentences still reign supreme, and Ethan is still not the most likable protagonist in the world, and the logic and reasoning is still all over the show and a little hard to swallow, but overall the story definitely had more kick to it this time around.

Wayward breezes along, and to not have to follow Ethan around just trying to figure out who he is and just running is nice. We understand all that is sinister, and while we don’t know everything, we know enough to follow what’s cooking. Ethan’s actions are sometimes beyond ridiculous, but I have come to accept that it is simply how this character is. David Pilcher is explored a little more in this novel, and so is Pam. Ethan and Pam are supposed to hate each other to the ends of the world, but it just doesn’t feel real.

The story of Alyssa, while super engaging, was also rapidly swept under the rug, and dragged out once in a while to remind us that there was a murder investigation at play. I am interested to know what else Tobias learned on his furlough beyond the town, but it was no shocker whatsoever to learn who he is. Theresa annoyed me quite a bit – finally learning the truth and taking that anger out on Ethan, making out that he is an idiot for not changing things, that is not fair.

This book also did a much better job at addressing how things are handled in Wayward Pines, the structures, and how things worked. It almost makes it worse knowing how everything works in the town. Something I did take issue with, however, is how they want the residents to think that they are dead right, but they keep them in line with the fear of death? If you are already dead, how is death an effective threat? SO CONFUSED. I felt that there was a lot of filler stuff in between the actual plot as well as the explanations behind the town and what was going on, but because of the writing style this just zips by at least. As before, the book is more predictable than it would like you to believe.

Anyway. I will definitely read the final installment of this series. I have come this far and I need to know how things are going to work out for everyone, and what the end game is.

Review: Pines – Blake Crouch

Wayward Pines #1

SYNOPISIS: Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. – via Goodreads

I’ve always wondered about these books, and been interested in checking them out, and just never got to it until recently. Amazon had them on special, so figured I would get my hands on them and see. I have never read anything about them and I have not watched the show, but I see it cropping up all over the place, hence I thought it might just be time to look into it.

Reading this, the first thing that popped into my mind is that it read like a Koontz novel. The longer I read, the more it reminded me of Koontz’s The House of Thunder in specific.I have not read spoilers for this story (there are few things I abhor as much), but the twists and turns in this novel did not really keep me in suspense. Why? Because I felt it was really predictable, and nothing really shocked me.

So let’s start with this – the premise is interesting. It is. A special agent in an accident and suffering from amnesia in a creepy little Stepford style town? For sure. Soon after that though it becomes evident that our leading man is not a particularly likable character, and there is a lot of him running back and forth but nothing happening. That does not necessarily make for a boring read, and it helps in this regard that the writing is not particularly meaty – meaning you are really just going to run through this, there is nothing you are going to chew on and think over, to really get involved with. So it certainly scores in the way of a quick read with an interesting premise, even though the execution is a little weak and definitely leaves one wanting. The fragmented sentences littered throughout the book were a source of endless frustration for me though, seriously!

I feel that Pines is a messy book, but entertaining. There was enough mystery to keep me going, although I had pegged the majority of the outcomes and plot twists before they were delivered, and the reveals were no shocker, save one. I have also got to admit that the reasoning behind things as well as some of the logic is completely preposterous, something I struggled to buy into. I know it sounds like a lot of bitching, but the story flows fast and it does pull you in, even though a lot is left to be desired. All that being said, I will check out the next novel in this trilogy. The completist in me will have me read all three; for the sake of completion as well as the fact that I paid for them.

Review: Abandon – Blake Crouch

abandon book cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins – and not a single bone was ever found. One hundred thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town, so they can learn what happened. With them is a psychic and a paranormal photographer, as the town is rumored to be haunted. A party that tried to explore the town years ago was never heard from again. What this crew is about to discover is that twenty miles from civilization, with a blizzard bearing down, they are not alone, and the past is very much alive. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I checked this one out when I asked Kim for a recommendation to check out from NetGalley. She had me check out Blake Crouch, an author I know nothing about and haven’t heard of, although I do know about the show that has been made based on his books. I picked it up and read it recently and I must say that it was quite enjoyable. I did not read the synopsis for it (again, love going in blind when I can), though I can tell you the write up doesn’t truly reflect the novel. Initially when it started I was a bit irritated because Crouch doesn’t really tell you that Abigail is a journalist or that Lawrence is her father and a history buff specializing in the town of Abandon and that they are hiking out there with a paranormal hunting couple who wishes to photograph the town, see what there is to see. Abandon also has a fascinating story, what with an entire town disappearing one Christmas day in 1893. The book is set over two periods, 2009 and 1983. Both were incredibly interesting, though I was completed engrossed with the sections of 1893. They were fascinating and you really just want to know what the hell went down that Christmas day. There is drama, there are plenty characters with intense stories – more so than in the 2009 sections. There were some truly awful things that happened in 1893, and some things just get under your skin. I thought that it got a little outrageous towards the end of the book that the 1893 and 2009 timelines happened to match up far too neatly, but alright, I suppose the story needs to be brought to a close somehow. There were some things, though, that I felt had so much more potential to be worked on, but were just overlooked (on both timelines). The lead character, Abigail, is not really compelling, which is a pity considering we are supposed to identify with her and root for her throughout, and there are too many characters (in the 2009 section) that keep being brought in that just clutter up the story and bloat it at times. This book had that aspect of a horror novel/movie where, every time the character/reader thinks they are in the clear, something else goes wrong. The book is a smooth read, and before you know it you have read huge chunks of it, but it just seems to take forever to get to the end, but it is entertaining throughout and keeps you hooked. I will be looking into more of Crouch’s work. I don’t think this book will be for everyone, especially not those expecting something of the supernatural nature, but if you are looking for a decent mystery/thriller, this will be well worth looking into.