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on 8 January 2015
Pines is a thriller with a lot of similarities to numerous other books, TV shows and films (as the author acknowledges at the end to be fair). For the majority of the book I wasn't really enjoying it; I was more irritated by the short, blunt sentences and too quick writing style, built on single lines which act as paragraphs. It's a page turner but it has no depth - I just wanted to see what the answer to the mystery was. Now I've finished it, I'm interested to read the next one, but put off by the thought of the writing.

You can tell the author had just finished studying creative writing and a couple of years later started getting his novels published. It's formulaic, written to hold attention rather than impart anything. The result is that it's quite soulless.

There are problems with the plot, which at the reveal, seems just ridiculous in places. Things don't add up. Also, the protagonist is injured so many times he could never keep going and accomplish what he does. But in other ways the whole thing is quite a clever idea. Perhaps after a break I'll see what the next book is like.
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on 30 September 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 19 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 10 August 2013
It was okay, but I dont really like 'okay' books, fast paced but not really going anywhere fast, repetitive, maybe if it was a well written short story it would be more appealing. T first thought it had promise and was gripping, then all a bit downhill, but I did read and finish it.
Its like a draught of an idea that needs editing and working on.
Im not a writer, if I wrote this I would be pretty pleased with myself, but Im not a writer.
The author of this is a writer with a good education geared towards exactly this. He needs to improve and hopefully will.
So, fast paced and catchy, bit mysterious, chases and unexplained scary happenings, more chases, mega injuries which somehow dont quite incapacitate the hero, sketchy characters and sort of sic fi or is it hallucinogen type mind warping or is it a thriller. Might read the next one if its free to see if the writer is improving.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 7 December 2015
Wow, one of the most unput-downable books I've read in years. I literally couldn't stop reading. Haven't seen the TV series but the book was great. A lot of people have complained about it being written in fragmented sentences - which it is - but this is pretty common for thrillers and just makes the pace of the book intense. Wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Agent Ethan Burke is up to his ears in trouble when he finds himself trapped in a perfect American everytown that is hiding a huge dark secret.
Desperate to escape he finds himself hunted & his life in danger as he desperately struggles to unlock the towns mystery & overcome post traumatic stress disorder.
Burke is a useful hero type with huge reserves of energy & willpower & a will to uncover the truth and make his way back to his family.
In truth his backstory is limited & has little significance here as what really counts is the 100MPH pace this story adopts from the very beginning.
Tension is ramped up at every page turn and everything zooms by in a blur. This leads to a very shallow but pretty exciting ride. It also helps to not linger at any point as to do so would leave the reader with an opportunity to begin asking questions about the plot holes that start to pile up from about the mid way point.
In the end, if you are going to enjoy this, you need to switch your brain down to it's 'low' setting and just follow the mad ride without looking too closely for cracks in the narrative.

Crouch gives a rather gushy 'Twin Peaks' eulogy in his afterword. This apparently was his inspiration for 'Pines'. Fair enough but don't even begin to expect anything even approaching Lynchian creepiness or inventiveness.
The story would stand better comparison to something like 'The Twilight zone' and has an atmosphere not dissimilar to Jack Finney's 'invasion of the body snatchers', just more blood & violence.

A rather daft & far fetched conclusion doesn't really come as any surprise. You'll realise two thirds in that the author has way too many loose ends to tie up & that there just couldn't be a believable explanation.
Never mind, it's a riveting, albeit brief, ride and it's nice sometimes to be able to have a story that makes no demands & rewards your time with a little blast of escapism.

It's never going to be a classic but if you fancy a creepy little tale that'll keep you glued for a few hours then this is a reasonable enough tale that knows it's limitations & until the last few pages always manages to keep a few steps ahead of the plot holes.
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on 22 February 2013
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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on 2 June 2015
Please don't judge this book by the frankly boring TV series made by M. night Shyamalan. They really shouldn't let him near a camera any more. This book is a great read, a story which is at times fantasy, at times science fiction, but always great. I don't want to say anything about what happens as the twists and turns had me guessing throughout. I loved this so much that I bought the next in the series as soon as I'd finished t his one. Recommended.
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on 31 May 2015
The premis for this excellent novel is an Agent from the U.S. Secret Service finding himself in a saccharine sweet mountain town badly injured with no wallet, id, or phone and only a strong sense of wrongness to guide him. The plot is well crafted, the mystery perplexing and the characters are well written. Personally, I was slightly deflated at the explanation and felt it could have been strung out for longer, but perhaps that's my masochistic side. This a thoroughly good read that properly draws you in.
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