Cephus' Corner

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Book Review: The Last Town (2014) - Cephus' Corner

Book Review: The Last Town (2014)

August 23rd, 2015

The Last Town CoverIt all comes to an end, Blake Crouch’s tales of the distant future and the last human town on Earth in a world overrun by murderous animals.  In the first two books, Ethan Burke finds himself in a strange world and manages to both get to the bottom of the mystery and work himself to the top of the hierarchy where he can make a difference.  But at the end of Wayward, he explains the reality to the rest of the town and David Pilcher turns off the power and opens the gates to let the abbies in and they’re in a fight for their lives, the last 461 human lives on the planet, with seemingly no hope.

So let’s see how this last book in the trilogy plays out as we find the fate of The Last Town.

The abbies are coming and the residents of Wayward Pines are not prepared. They split up into four groups, each searching for a place to hide and ride out the carnage as the abbies pick them off until the town’s streets run red.  Ethan and a small band set off to the superstructure to bring David Pilcher to justice, just as someone presumed dead returns to Wayward Pines with news that will shock them all.  Can any of them survive the onslaught?

One of the common complaints about the first book in the trilogy is that it was largely action adventure violence porn.  Ethan spent a lot of time running around and getting beat up, graphically no less, and much of that returns in the third book.  We spend about half the book running around with various groups of characters, getting gnawed on by abbies by the dozens.  I know we’re supposed to think that mankind is fighting for its life, but it got a bit old to be honest.

Also, Adam Hassler as the returning wanderer isn’t all that impressive either. He plays it up like he’s got the secret that can save the world, if only he can make it back to Wayward Pines and that secret turns out to be “you’re screwed, give up and accept your doom”?  Yeah, that’s a great message, isn’t it?  Of course, it turns out that Pilcher underestimated the horrors of the future and everyone was going to starve anyhow but I found it interesting that they kept saying they were down to 250 people on the planet when we know that Pilcher had another several hundred in cryogenic freeze in the mountain.  He was planning on defrosting them for another attempt after the abbies killed off the current crop. But that really doesn’t matter, does it?  In fact, none of it matters and I think that’s really where the biggest problem with the trilogy lies.

The first book has a lot of mystery to it, Ethan has to figure out the secrets behind the town, but once he does that, there really isn’t anything new to learn.  Oh sure, the rest of the people in the town have to find out the same secret, but what new big reveals do we get past Pines?  We know the score, now it’s just spreading the word and dealing with the consequences.  We never really learned more about the world in the future as the books went on.  The abbies, devolved humans though they may  be, are just wild animals. They never evolve within the story and the big about Margaret, the captive intelligent abbie, never really pans out.  Ethan lets her go in the end and I guess we’re supposed to think that she somehow pacifies the abbies and passes on her intelligence genes to future generations, but that’s never spelled out either.

Now this was supposed to be the last book in the series but Blake Crouch sets it up for another sequel at the end and, if rumors are to be believed, there will be a fourth book coming soon and yes, I will read and review it, but I’m finding it hard to see what more can be said in the even more distant future.  I guess I’ll find out.

This is a good example of what I dislike about dystopian futures.  Yes, there are some things to like.  Humanity survives.  Barely.  Certainly, there aren’t enough people to provide a sufficiently genetically diverse future, modern zoologists say that requires at least 1500 specimens and Pilcher freezes less than 1000.  We have a small town where everyone is controlled and monitored all of the time, it kind of struck me like the town in Twilight Zone’s “It’s a Good Life” with the kid who could wish you into the cornfield.  Pilcher essentially had that power, if you did things he didn’t like, he could call for your death, no questions asked. It’s a life but it isn’t a good life and nobody in the town was really happy.  So along comes Ethan Burke who tells everyone the truth, like the snake in the Garden of Eden, and suddenly, Pilcher-God rains down destruction upon his people for the simple crime of knowledge.  Things never get better.  There is no bright future for humanity.  It’s just an ever growing list of problems and failures facing mankind, who never really learned the lessons that Pilcher froze people to save them from.  I want the future to be better, not worse.  I want there to be an improvement.  Even if things fall apart, I want to see that we’re putting them back together.  The Wayward Pines trilogy doesn’t do that and every time I thought that things might  get better, they all get dumped back into the fire again. That doesn’t make it bad, we just get left at a place at the end of the third book that isn’t all that different from where we start at the beginning of the first. Maybe book four will give me that positive future I want but honestly, I’m not holding my breath.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.