Pines by Blake Crouch

pines-175How do you review this book without giving something away? This is the question that has plagued me since I completed it a few days ago.

I suppose I could tell you that Pines is a mystery/thriller/sci-fi novel which begins with a Secret Service agent, Ethan Hunt waking from a car accident and finding himself hospitalised in the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. Ethan has been sent to Wayward Pines to find two other agents, who were sent to the town to investigate a man called David Pilcher.

Soon after waking Ethan begins to realise that all is not what it seems in the town of Wayward Pines, and to complicate matters, nobody believes he is a Secret Service agent, and all of his belongings have gone missing… And this is where the trouble begins for a reviewer. From this point on, it is pretty much impossible to give you any details without spoiling the novel.

I suppose I can tell you that Pines is the first in a trilogy. And I guess it would be safe to tell you that the town of Wayward Pines is the author Blake Crouch‘s homage to the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks… There is even a “damn good coffee” moment.

I also suppose it will be okay to tell you that Wayward Pines like Twin Peaks, takes a few trips down to Freaky-Town, and has a few twists and turns that you won’t expect, unless someone has told you in advance, or like me you are reading this after watching the television adaptation.

I also think it will be okay, if not essential for me to tell you that Pines, like the town of Wayward Pine’s coffee is a damn good read. It whips along at a steady pace, and takes you places you never expected to go. There is even some surprises for those of you who are coming here after watching the television series. In fact I can safely say that anyone who likes to travel to small towns to get their mystery, thriller or science fiction fix will probably find something to excite them in Wayward Pines.



Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I worked in a magical kingdom in Florida. It was filled with many wonderful characters who spent the nights drinking and partying and the days fulfilling people’s wishes… Even if that wish was to find the nearest toilets.

It was a wonderful experience working at Walt Disney World, so wonderful in fact that I even brought a wife home as a souvenir, or should I say she brought me home, as it was her that brought me to England. Still it wasn’t so wonderful that I would have wanted to spend the rest of eternity living and working in ‘the happiest place on Earth’. Which is exactly the premise of Cory Doctorow‘s book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

Cover of

Set in the future, death has been eliminated as one of life’s worries. If you get sick, injured or even killed than the Bitchun Society will just create a clone of you and implant your new brain with all the information backed-up from your old one, so you will theoretically live forever. Which is exactly the situation of Down and Out’s protagonist Julian, who has worked in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World for centuries. Not a bad concept for a novel, but a concept doesn’t always make for a good story.

Littered with jargon that is never is explained, and plagued by a storyline that loses its way occasionally, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a novel of high concepts but mediocre quality. Perhaps because it is so short (208 pages), or because it  was the author’s first novel, the story feels rushed. The characters also, with the exception of the main character Julian, are never given the time to fully develop, and some of them remain lifeless, like the clones they are. Of course, any science-fiction fan, or Disney Castmember Alumni (like myself) can forgive the shortcomings of this novel, because the ride was a fun one, even if I was slightly confused some of the time.


Second Opinion

About the Author

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of young adult novels like HOMELAND, PIRATE CINEMA and LITTLE BROTHER and novels for adults like RAPTURE OF THE NERDS and MAKERS. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada,he now lives in London.

Borrowed from