Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Last Town by Blake Crouch

Book description: Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed. But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity.

Warning:  This review makes reference to the first two books in the Wayward Pines series, so if you haven’t read them yet, do two things.  First:  READ THEM!  Second, either read the third one or come back and read this review.


The Last Town is the concluding volume in the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch.  Each of the books is a nicely self-contained arc in the trilogy.  The first book, Pines,  drops Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke into the middle of a seemingly idyllic town in the Pacific Northwest.  His memory foggy, he finds the actions of the townspeople, and sometimes their very existence, incongruous.  His refusal to conform leads to him running for his life and eventually uncovering the mystery.


The second book, Wayward, has Burke agree to keep the secret about Wayward Pines and assume the role of sheriff.  While struggling with his own duplicitousness in concealing the truth from the townspeople, he is asked to investigate a murder and to ferret out those unwilling to abide by the towns’ strict rules.  When Burke decides to reveal to everyone the truth behind Wayward Pines, the towns mysterious benefactor decides to turn off the electric fence that is the only thing protecting the town from deadly creatures outside.


The Last Town picks up immediately after the events concluding in the previous book.  Each book is terrifically paced, but The Last Town may be the fastest paced of them all.  Ethan must organize the townspeople as best he can to escape the slaughter that is headed straight for them.  He also must expose the corrupt David Pilcher who conceived of and constructed the town and has demonstrated that he will stop at nothing to protect or destroy his vision.


The characters in this book and series are terrific.  Ethan Burke is a hero with enough faults and internal conflicts to keep you guessing what he might do.  Pilcher is a true megalomaniacal genius that leaves you wondering if he can be defeated or will he self-destruct.  The other supporting characters are equally well-drawn with just enough depth to keep them real.  The mystery of the town and the behavior of everyone living there is riveting.  Unraveling the mystery leads to both surprise and terror.


This is a popcorn thriller with a sci-fi touch and a lot of fun.  I was surprised by the ending of each book and the series as a whole, even though I had plenty of guesses about what was going on all along the way.  The breakneck pace keeps you moving the entire time and draws you deeper and deeper into the story.  The ending is very satisfying.  Do yourself a favor and pick up these books.  Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book (The final book only).