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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A blast from beginning to end!
Having just read Blake's collaborations with J.A. Konrath (Serial Killers, Stirred et al) I was expecting another dose of "turn off your brain and enjoy", over-the-top dose of blood-letting, gore and mayhem. What I actually got was even better, a true page turner of a mystery/thriller that keeps you guessing right up to its enjoyably delirious dénouement. With, I...
Published on 19 Aug. 2012 by Mark Philpott

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sleight-of-hand trick?
Regarding TV influences like Twin Peaks, Twilight Zone, etc., etc., has no one noted the similarity between Pines and 1960s TV classic The Prisoner..?: Secret agent; knockout gas; twisted mind-games; a picture-perfect village where everyone must pretend nothing is amiss;escape attempts constantly foiled; 'mad scientist' Pilcher being No 2 to Ethan Burke's No 6, etc, etc...
Published 7 months ago by Stephen Sennitt


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sleight-of-hand trick?, 30 Sept. 2014
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Regarding TV influences like Twin Peaks, Twilight Zone, etc., etc., has no one noted the similarity between Pines and 1960s TV classic The Prisoner..?: Secret agent; knockout gas; twisted mind-games; a picture-perfect village where everyone must pretend nothing is amiss;escape attempts constantly foiled; 'mad scientist' Pilcher being No 2 to Ethan Burke's No 6, etc, etc. In fact, if I was being cynical, I'd suspect author Crouch of performing a sleight-of-hand trick here by mentioning Twin Peaks et. al. to distract readers from the much more obvious and far more numerous Prisoner vibes/influences! As to the book itself: I found it a rapid read, but had difficulty believing in the stamina/staying power of our hero, who is pummelled from pillar to post, losing gallons of blood, suffering endless concussions; starved, drugged, beaten to a pulp in the process. Even taking into account the suspended animation motif and time lapses, it's hard to see how Burke could have survived without sustaining severe brain damage and irreparable emotional trauma - and his background as a Second Gulf War torture survivor still doesn't swing it for me. For those potential readers who might, like me, find chase scenes rather tedious when over done, please note almost the entire length of the book is taken up with Burke's relentless gambits to escape 'The Village', er - sorry 'The Town' - so fair warning if you're expecting something more cerebral...Having said all this, I still enjoyed reading the novel, which is overall a little bit above average, and have purchased Books Two & Three in the series, which I'll read at some point in the next few months. But there was nothing in the book, either new or derived from other sources, that made me want to drop everything else to find out a.s.a.p what's going to happen next in the sequels.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A blast from beginning to end!, 19 Aug. 2012
By 
Mark Philpott "marco772" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Having just read Blake's collaborations with J.A. Konrath (Serial Killers, Stirred et al) I was expecting another dose of "turn off your brain and enjoy", over-the-top dose of blood-letting, gore and mayhem. What I actually got was even better, a true page turner of a mystery/thriller that keeps you guessing right up to its enjoyably delirious dénouement. With, I might add, its fair share of blood-letting and mayhem to boot, but slightly toned down here and possibly the better for it.

To give away too many details would truly be a disservice to the story and author so I'll just give a brief outline of the set-up and leave it there.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke wakes up in hospital following a car accident in the picture perfect, white-picket-fence town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, with little memory of who he is or how he got there. As he slowly pieces together the events that led him there it becomes clear that the town holds a dark secret and leaving may not be a welcomed option by its inhabitants...

It's this mystery that keeps the pages turning, along with the increasingly erratic behaviour of the townsfolk. I quite literally could not leave this book alone until I knew all its secrets. It's very well written too with believable dialogue and characters and flows freely from the opening to its end.

The author includes an afterword nod towards the classic TV show Twin Peaks as "Pines" inspiration but, as has been noted in other reviews, the spirit of The Twilight Zone inhabits its pages more predominantly, which is, of course, no bad thing at all.

This is a fantastic, roller-coaster of a read for those who enjoy a good thriller and suspending their disbelief.

I have already lined up a few of Crouch's other works to devour and have every confidence they will be just as much fun to read.

Frankly, at £2.49, it's an absolute steal for anyone with an e-reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What could happen in small town America!, 13 Sept. 2012
By 
Susman "Susman" (London Mills IL) - See all my reviews
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Our narrative begins with a man regaining consciousness near the river. He has no idea who he is, or where he is. His conscious being tells him he is hurting, his eye is virtually closed and he has acute pain on his side and back. With every step he tries to take he finds excruciating pain. Next when he finds himself back in the infirmary, he finally recalls more detail of whom he is and why he is where he is. He is Ethan Burke, and he works for the secret service and he is searching for some missing co-workers. He finds the town he is in `a little off', where the inhabitants are less than normal and as events begins to transpire and disentangle he comes to the realisation that he must escape from town of Wayward Pines and do so quickly.

From the first time we meet Ethan, on the page, the pace is fast with no real let up. The narrative gives little `breathing space' for Ethan as he is constantly on move. The mantra here is move or die. The plot gives nothing away and there seems to be little the reader can piece together, in advance to give any hint of a possible outcome, until of course author wants you to know what's happening. The end was, not predictable but rather surprising and all in all it tied all the plot themes together nicely.

A very good read, which is well written with a heavy `dollop' of thriller/suspense, non-stop action and a not too healthy serving of blood spilled with chaos and carnage served on the side. Anyone for apple pie?
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Wayward Pines. Population plus one very soon if we have anything to do with it!, 12 Aug. 2012
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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Imagine that you wake up in a field in the middle of nowhere . No wallet ,no phone, no I.D. and perhaps worst of all no memory of who you are .If that is not bad enough you are injured ,disorientated and generally in a bit of a pickle. That is how Pines starts for lead character Ethan Burke. And things just get weirder and weirder from then on in .
Ethan , it transpires is a secret service agent sent to the remote town of Wayward Pines to investigate the disappearance of two of his colleagues. Everything and everyone seems a bit strange, the Sheriff moves from evasive to downright hostile and no one seems to want to help him. Plus it seems they really do not want him to leave town either.
Pines is a difficult book to categorise .Primarily it is a thriller but there are other genre elements thrown into the mix which I am not going to mention as it may act as a possible spoiler. Suffice to say that as Ethan flails around trying to find answers, events become more and more peculiar until the real reason for his predicament is revealed . You may have an inkling , as I did, of where things are going generally but I doubt you will guess the true rationale for how Ethan has ended up in this situation.
What is without doubt is that Pines is a tremendous fun read. It sets off like Usain Bolt and it does not flag for one second. Blake Crouch is clearly an author who believes that thrillers , should first and foremost, be thrilling. Pines mostly certainly is. But its well written too, in a lean , sparse ,no nonsense kind of way.
The author pay tribute to the seminal television show Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition (UK Version) [DVD] in the after word and cites it as his literary homage to that show. Pines is not as well drawn as Twin Peaks in terms of plot and characterisation, but then it is not a long running T.V. series. It lacks the series quirky humour too, but it does explore a dark secret behind the chocolate box facade of a small town and like Twin Peaks it just gets more and more bizarre .In the end Pines ends up a hugely exciting mix of the aforementioned show with dashes of The Prisoner, The Fugitive and The Bourne Identity . And if that does not send the pulse of any fan of the thriller genre racing I don't know what will.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but contains frustrating elements., 30 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded this the other day through Kindle Unlimited and listened to the audiobook version. As an author myself, I often subject my eyes to an optical beating by spending my life in front of a screen of some description, so it's nice to switch off occasionally. (I must add that the narrator does a superb job of conveying the nuances/emotions of the book and the various voices of the characters, so if like me you don't want to actually use your eyes to read, I would suggest using your earsicles with this one). So onto the story itself:

The Good:

The story is incredibly interesting and the mystery element handled deftly. As soon as I started reading about Ethan's experiences in Wayward Pines, I felt a strong Twin Peaks vibe. Even though I was only six when it first came out, to this day it stands as one of my all-time favourites - and to me Pines felt like an homage to that show. (I found out later in the author notes that this is exactly what Crouch was going for, so yay me). There is a very visceral sense of danger hidden around every corner of the town and I shared Ethan's frustrations with every metaphorical brick wall he hits in trying to escape the eerie town, and the bizarre 'Stepford Wife' style characters he interacts with. Although I wasn't entirely satisfied with the end, (more on that below - no spoiler - promise) it was definitely good enough to get me to pick up the sequel.

The writing style in general is very good. Breezy, light and easy to follow. Dialogue is punchy and well handled - this is one of Crouch's strongest facets and for that I am sending the author an electronic handshake. Good, natural sounding dialogue is hard to create.

Ethan is a strong - if not always entirely likeable - character. He is capable, which helps lend credence to some of the more unbelievable situations he gets himself into/survives.

Good supporting characters. The Sheriff and the nurse being notable standouts.

The Bad:

Ethan appears to be some type of superhero judging by the amount of injuries he survives. After a while I found myself actually laughing about it. I know that (minor spoiler)- his combat training and torture at the hands of an Al-Qaeda militant in Iraq supposedly demonstrate his ability to survive, but Batman would struggle to take the beatings that this guy takes as all in a days Wayward Pining. Apart from the grievous injuries he has already sustained when we are first introduced to him, throughout the course of the book, Ethan is beaten to blackout several times, hit with rocks, stabbed, hits his head on the pavement (about 42912 times), has his leg cut open, gets razor claws dug into him and hit with an almost hilarious number of other weapons. I'm sorry, but no matter how strong you are - you would be skating death with that amount of injuries consistently being received - or at least looking at some serious down time. After a while his superman status started to drag me out of the story and diffuse my suspension of disbelief.

The description is excessive to the point of being distracting. Crouch goes into far too much detail on weather, or other inane aspects that are irrelevant to the story, often dedicating several sentences more than are needed to them. When Ethan is running for his life, I am not that interested in what rain sounds like hitting the tarmac (especially as we have already been told several times that it is raining heavily and that there are roads -we don't need the double tagging). For another example, in one chapter, several paragraphs explain in minute detail the laborious process of Teresa washing dishes. I understand that Crouch often uses description to delay action and create certain effects, but honestly I believe that a good thirty pages worth of excessive description could have been edited out of the book, without affecting the power of the story - or the reader's ability to visualise any of it - one iota.

Tying into excessive description, far too much time is spent discussing Ethan's numerous injuries, to the point it actually started to make me feel a bit ill, (like when you watch too many episodes of House in a row, and decide that you probably have multiple of these exotic illnesses and feel the need to cart yourself off to bed). In all seriousness, Crouch's descriptions of the wounds etc are very visually arresting and effective, but after the twentieth time of hearing how Ethan felt like he wanted to pass out, I wanted to dropkick him to the face myself so that I could oblige and have him quit moaning at me.

The whole Al- Qaeda thing was far too 'murica f**k yeah' for me, with the torturer Assif being more caricature than character. I could almost imagine him stepping exaggeratedly with a bag of 'swag' over his shoulder.

The ending was a MASSIVE info dump. I know in mysteries, this is often necessary, but it went on for far too long. I am sure this could be shortened with another, decent editing round.

Aside from these bad points, the premise is very good, and the story itself more than interesting enough to enter it into higher star territory for me. I will be continuing the series - most likely through the dulcet tones of the audiobook narrator - and urge you to pick up a copy yourselves and support a great new voice in the suspense and horror genre.

Stuart Meczes

Author of the bestselling YA urban fantasy series, Hasea Chronicles.

http://goo.gl/Ubge0X
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 10 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on the strength of the positive reviews. Poorly written with such a far fetched plot. I found myself skimming over the pages when I got to half way as I was loosing the will to live! Determination was the drive to complete the book as I had paid for the download. The ending was utterly ridiculous. What a waste of 99 p. This has made me more sceptical of buying kindle books based on reviews. Lesson learnt. Sorry no more purchases from this author.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The storyline was as lost as its protagonist., 22 Feb. 2013
By 
This novel began with promise. It hooked my attention and I was at once intrigued as to what had happened to Ethan. However, the novel soon became a victim of a repetitive storyline: chase after chase after chase; Ethan's numerous escapes; his re-capture; bouts of unconsciousness; acts of physical aggression on his personage that should have incapacitated him for weeks and not hours as inferred; and reminiscences of an (unnecessarily gory) account of his torture in Iraq - all contributed to make the guts of this novel uninspiring to read. I very nearly ceased reading the novel altogether. In fact, I put it aside for several days and read something more engrossing. However, I came back to it - if only to discover the ending. I wish I hadn't, for the ending turned out to be more chases but in a different setting. The jump to another millennia didn't come as a huge surprise to me. I was almost expecting it. However, Pilcher's rationale for setting up Wayward Pines was flawed: a peaceful community where they could go about their lives normally? Then why the pack mentality and Beverley's gruesome death? I was left dissatisfied with the ending.
As far as Blake Crouch's writing style is concerned. I am not American and I found the persistent non-use of pronouns at the start of sentences irritating. Grammatically, it did not read well. It may have been an attempt at making the narrative fast paced, however, there are more effective ways to do this. Also, he assumes that non-American readers know the meaning of all the abbreviations used in the story. Some I found in my Kindle's dictionary, others...well, I am still none the wiser. If he hopes to sell his novels to a wider audience, he should bear this in mind.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Decent beach read, 1 Jun. 2013
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In the afterword, Blake Crouch (is that a real name?) discusses how Twin Peaks influenced him in writing this tale. The legacy is pretty clear but that does not detract from the pace and excitement of the book. The first half especially has a non-stop chase across a secluded town with shades of Wicker Man when it appears that the protagonist is the only one seeing that there is something strange going on.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke is in a carv crash on the outskirts of Wayward Pines township when a truck accident kils his partner and puts him in hospital. His ID and wallet are missing and the local Sheriff clearly knows about this sort of troublemaker.
Cue chases and drugging in a mysterious hospital with no patients and the charge nurse who seems more at home in a dojo. This all
keeps the reader interested.

Eventually Burke makes discoveries - no spoilers here - and the book seems to drift a bit. Some questions I would ask:
Don't Secret Service Agents have some backup plans for when they are captured by bad guys? It seems to me that they would at least have a list of phone numbers memorised rather than just one for the office where a 'new secretary' is unable to pass a message to the boss. Also it seems likely that there might be a call centre number and identification method that would allow an agent to verify themselves and get help.

The plot has holes I could drive a truck through, but the book is tightly written and I would recommend it as a decent beach read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pines for TV, 6 Feb. 2013
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Pines is about a U.S. Secret Service agent, Ethan Burke, who wakes up in a hospital after a car accident in a place called Whispering Pines. He's having a hard time remembering details of his life, things like his home phone number and his wife's name. Of course it doesn't help that no one seems to be able to find his wallet or his phone and he has no money.
Don't worry this is not a Bourne Identity trip but altogether much more riveting, a superb mystery thriller with a touch of sci-fi to end.
From the beginning everything is filled with mystery and you get the feeling that something is wrong, very wrong and when he eventually remembers he's investigating the disappearance of two fellow Secret Service agents he goes to the town sheriff for assistance. To say the sheriff is less than helpful would be an understatement and throughout you can sense that something is not quite right, even with the townsfolk. Everyone seems all too pleasant in a quirky kind of way. Also he can't seem to get in touch with anyone from the world outside Whispering Pines, not his wife or his boss.
His investigation never really gets off the ground, he is not getting answers to the questions he is asking and before he knows it, he is running for his life. Ethan feels such despair that he just wants out of Whispering Pines, the one thing he can't seem to do.
A relatively short read but completely enthralling, its compelling reading as Ethan's world disintegrates around him and the end reveal is done exceptionally well.
The story is suspenseful, riveting and a gripping page turner, highly recommended.
I am a first time reader of Mr. Crouch's and I am really impressed by his writing. I will certainly be reading more from this author.

The book had me desperately trying to recall what film it reminded me of but I could not think of anything specific, probably because its that fast paced it reads like watching a movie. Also this is to turned into a TV series, Fox has ordered 10 to 12 episodes and hopes to debut the pilot in 2014 directed by M. Night Shyamalan, if done right this book is perfect for TV.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi not Thriller, 23 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Very similar to the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey.
As they both were released within months of each other, it seems a little unfair to compare one to the other.
This is not really a thriller or mystery - I was expecting something along the lines of Shutter Island. This book is definately more sci-fi.
The book centres around the main protaganist, Ethan Burke, a secret service agent sent to a strange town called Wayward Pines to investigate the dissapearance of two other federal agents who had gone missing. He is in a car accident on his arrival, and when he wakes up he tries to put the pieces together.
Crouch says this book is a homage to Twin Peaks (paraphrasing here), which is outright weird and oddly compelling - I can't really see it in the book, except perhaps superficially in it's location (Wayward Pines), and that it begins as an investigation into a crime.
It is a compelling read. The characters are a little one-dimentional - there's very revealed about them, but that might be intentional, and meant to be a reflection of the town itself.
I like the premise, and although it is a little silly, it's a good read. Will be interesting to see how they adapt it for TV.
I've already started reading the second in the series, and will read the third as well.
It's not a literary powerhouse, or modern classic, but it's a really fun and compelling read.
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