Pines was a fantastic Twilight Zone slice of storytelling. It was weird and creepy and entirely unsettling. Yes, Blake Crouch seeded the entire novel with hints and clues as to what was really going on with his idyllic little town, but the ultimate reveal of the finale was still a shock.
With that in mind, I really had no idea where he could take things with Wayward. While I had some suspicions, and even some expectations, I really didn't know, with the curtain pulled back and the reality of things exposed, what could be next. As it turns out, book two of The Wayward Pines Series (and trust me, there is most definitely a third book to come) goes precisely where you might expect it to, leaving us with one heck of a cliffhanger.
This second volume starts off rather slowly, as we watch how Sheriff Burke integrates himself - willingly, this time - with the community. We see how his family life is developing - awkwardly, as it turns out - and we witness his developing relationship with the real power of Wayward Pines. The first half of the story lacks the narrative 'wow' of the original book, but it does serve to answer a lot of lingering questions, while also providing the backstory that would have ruined the suspense of Pines.
It's in the second half of the book, however, where Crouch really takes off. He takes a hard look at the concepts of freedom, of personal choice, and of individual responsibility. We peek beyond the white picket fences, and into the hearts of those who dwell within such perfect homes. Without giving too much away, humanity can only survive in stasis for so long before people must look to grow, and to learn, regardless of the consequences.
As for the ending, I kind of saw it coming on the one hand, but also didn't really expect Crouch to go there on the other. It's a big, bold, brave climax to the story . . . or, at least, the start of one. Just when it all reaches critical mass, he pauses everything on the cusp of the grand explosion, leaving the rest of the tale for another volume.
By necessity, it's a very different book than the first, but one that does a nice job of exploring the world and Crouch's themes in more detail. Here's to finding out all how it all ends!
Paperback, 322 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer