This post has been adapted from a previously separated post. This review of Twisted Pines by author Lane Baker contains first a spoiler free review followed by a spoiler full review/summary.
Thank you to Lane Baker for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for these honest reviews.
Twisted Pines: Spoiler Free Review
There are a few things that I really look for in a novel. I want it to tell me a story I haven’t read before. I want to not be able to predict it. And I want it to not be boring. Twisted Pines accomplished all three.
It’s the story about a young camp councilor’s first summer at a remote camp for children. Abe takes the job more because he doesn’t know what else to do than that he has any desire to work with children or be outdoors. He has the typical young adult need to find himself as well as find young adult female companionship.
At the camp children start to go missing for short periods of time. This is where the mystery starts. Abe gets caught up in events much larger than he could have ever imagined when he took this summer gig.
The concept is intriguing and I can honestly say I had no idea what direction it would take me. I can also say that I was very pleased with the ending. I didn’t see it coming but it was exactly what it should have been.
The book does suffer from some pacing issues. The first half of the book follows the camp counselors and attempts to develop their characters through sometimes awkward dialogue. Abe has a crush on Diane and I kept having to remind myself that being weird about crushes is a normal thing to be preoccupied with when you’re very young.
I think if the book had been longer overall the character development phase would have worked a little better as long as some more of the mystery tension was also built. But as it stands it felt like an overly long introduction. The vocabulary of the book is sometimes stilted and there are more than several typos throughout the book as a whole.
However, when I got to the second half I found myself extremely curious to see where the rest would take me. There is a sudden turning point where things get weird and creepy and I really wanted to see how it all played out. Once again, I really enjoyed the ending so it was well worth getting there.
I would recommend Twisted Pines to fans of YA sci fi who are looking for something they definitely haven’t seen before.
3/5 camp horses 🐎🐎🐎
in order to keep me up to my ears in books consider using the following affiliate links. it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thank you and happy reading!
Buy it here: Twisted Pines
Summary and Spoiler Full Review
Twisted Pines starts with a prologue about a kid at a carnival who is passed a mysterious note while his dad isn’t looking. I remember thinking this was interesting when I read it but honestly forgot all about it by the time we cycled back to it in the epilogue.
Flash from the carnival to a summer camp. We have our first person narrator, Abe, telling us the rest of the story. He is a very young adult trying to figure out what to do with his life. He needs a path, a change, a job. So he takes a gig working at a remote summer camp far from home. Totally outside of his comfort zone but he’s hoping to get some of that life experience before he goes on to be a documentary filmmaker.
Right away a kid goes missing at the camp. Everybody is searching and worried and then the kid just waltzes back to camp like they were never missing. Odd, but nothing to be too alarmed about. Then it happens again. Kid disappears, comes back like nothing happened. Then the sleepwalking starts. Same kids, leaving their beds at night. What is going on?
Meanwhile, camp counselors are talking and flirting and generally being kids themselves. The first half of the book mostly deals with these matters. Abe has a crush on Diane but draws it out. Abe finds out Diane is actually dating this misogynistic jerk. Abe goes briefly nice guy TM in his mind thinking that she could do better than be that stereotype but then he moves on to another nice girl with a quirky sense of humor and finds out that the jerk guy is actually alright.
I liked this part actually, that Abe backs down from his crush instead of of trying to “steal her” from him like she’s property. Yay for female autonomy in literature!
Anyway, I digress, the first half of the book does a lot of trying to develop these characters. They have some frankly stilted conversations and use strange slang that didn’t ring true to me. Maybe that’s the nature of having to keep the dialogue clean for the YA audience.
The pacing is also a little off through the first half of the book. There are the two disappearances but they are quite uneventful. It isn’t until the halfway mark that things really pick up but then it’s go go go up through the end.
Abe leaves his tent one night to find one of the sleepwalkers. He follows them to a cave where there is a strange little humanoid creature hiding. The startling looking man flashes a blue orb at Abe and it puts him right to sleep.
Abe awakens to be completely unsure of what he saw or if it was real. He confirms the reality by discovering a strange implanted device in his wrist that he cuts out. But it disappears from his tent before he can show anyone.
The next night Abe sleepwalks himself back to the humanoid and groggily recalls being on a slab next to a young camper, being experimented on like the classic alien abduction scenario. After this happens a couple of times Abe is determined to solve this mystery and asks the humanoid what planet he’s from. He responds, Earth.
Abe takes a bunch of caffeine pills to try to balance out the drugging effect so that he can get more answers. It works, he finds out that the little man’s name is Gödel. Gödel is from the future by about 1000 years and he’s come back to collect human antibodies for a plague that is ravaging their population.
Abe keeps sleepwalking to the man from the future so he decides to try and befriend him, get as much evidence as possible, and use it to… make a documentary film about it for college. Probably wouldn’t be my choice in this situation but to each their own.
Abe does gain some of Gödel’s confidence and is able to collect some evidence all while gaining sympathy for the poor man’s situation. Abe is just able to show his new girlfriend the evidence when everything goes to hell.
Robots from the future start terrorizing the camp! Abe must save the children! The machines are sent to sabotage Gödel’s work and keep the humans from curing the plague. They trash his lab and destroy all of Abe’s biological material that he’s been using to create a cure. Gödel panics and captures one of the children who also had the antibodies with the intention of taking him back to the future with him.
Abe cannot let that happen. He steps up into hero mode and volunteers to go to the future in the kid’s place. The story ends with Abe and Gödel on the craft leaving everything Abe has ever known behind. Quite noble. Quite sad. Quite perfect.
The last half of Twisted Pines happens very quickly. Lots of action points happen one right after the other and the ending is melancholy and sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second half of the book definitely makes up for the flaws of the first.
I can easily recommend this novel to any fans of YA sci fi or even just sci fi fans who want to see something different. I can honestly say I did not predict how this book would go and I always enjoy that.
3/5 future robots 🤖🤖🤖
For more self published YA books check out The Purest Form of Chaos
in order to keep me up to my ears in books consider using the following amazon affiliate link to purchase this product. it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thank you and happy reading!
Buy it here: Twisted Pines