I finished reading the Wayward Pines Trilogy, 947 pages in total, last night. But to be more precise, it took me one day to read the first book, then it took me two days to read the remaining two. I say “two days” but actually it was hours. After all, it was the weekend and I did do other “weekendy” stuff. In any case, by now you should have an idea of how “unputdownable” I found this trilogy to be.
This morning, I can’t get the books out of my mind. I decided to read the trilogy after I watched the first two episodes of Wayward Pines, the new TV series by the same name starring Matt Dillon. Of course, I decided to watch the series because, hello, it’s Matt Dillon (and then there’s also M. Night Shyamalan as producer and director).
I have written a companion post reviewing the TV series , so I’ll stick to the books on this one.
But what can I say without spoilers? Let’s see:
1. Wayward Pines is an edge-of-the-seat, fast-paced read.
2. The premise has been done before, but this doesn’t take away from the storytelling.
3. The trilogy can fit various genres: thriller, science fiction, murder mystery (at least for a while), and horror.
4. I found Theresa, Ethan’s wife, to be a very likable character. Her conversation with Ethan about love, towards the end of the trilogy, has stuck to me. Perhaps, because I didn’t expect such wisdom on such subject from this type of book.
5. I also didn’t expect the ending. It took me entirely by surprise, and that’s a great feeling. To have gotten through almost 1000 pages and still be surprised, and left wanting for more.
All that said, the trilogy is not flawless. Sometimes, I found that the writing was a bit weak. In the first book, some of the sentences are amateurish and/or feel out-of-place. This is surprising considering that Blake Crouch is an accomplished fiction writer in both novel and short-story form.
In the third book, the weak writing is more about substance than form. For example, without going into too much detail, Ethan makes the decision to stay above ground to outrun the enemy when it has long been established that the enemy cannot be outrun. I also found the two main “bad guys,” Pilcher and Pam, to be a bit caricatural.
I usually blame these writing lapses, whether of substance or form, on editors who as “expert readers” should be able to pick up on them long before they reach the rest of us.
Regardless of these flaws, I found the trilogy to be compelling because it made me think about several “what if” scenarios, about how I would react and what decisions I would make in a similar predicament. I also liked Ethan, the protagonist, and not because I know that Matt Dillon plays him in the TV series. Ethan is flawed and has made a few grave mistakes in his marriage, but besides a back story that explains why he would make these mistakes, he is a good-hearted man who is faced with incredibly difficult choices.
I keep thinking of Justice Cronin’s The Passage Trilogy (although only two books have been published so far: The Passage & The Twelve). Wayward Pines is like a “Passage Trilogy Light.” It is shorter, less complex, less well-written and faster-paced. But is it less satisfactory? That’s for each reader to decide.
I, for one, am glad to have read both (or should I say all 5 books?). I’m also glad to have read the Pines trilogy before the next episode of the TV series is shown. I’m anal that way. By the way, that’s in three days. What will you do?