The Last Town

August 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

townThe Last Town by Blake Crouch

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As with Wayward, it’s impossible to discuss The Last Town without discussing the books that came before it, so if  you haven’t read the other two books in this series yet, you should stop reading. There will be spoilers galore after this point.

The Last Town begins immediately after the end of Wayward, where Ethan has told all of the townspeople the truth of the town and its surroundings. In response, Pilcher has abandoned his town to the abbies that surround it. He turns off the electric fence, opens wide the gates leading through the fences, and leads the abbies inside to kill everyone inside. Of course, since the series is about Ethan, Pilcher tries to pin this series of events on him, thinking that once all the townies are dead, he’ll use the staff inside the mountain to rebuild society. The Last Town is basically about survival against the odds, with the monsters running rampant throughout the streets.

It seems like a stretch for Pilcher to go from benevolent dictator to psychopathic killer, but Crouch does a decent enough job making him out to be crazy. At that point, it’s hard to predict anything he’ll do, which works in the sense of how the story develops, but it feels at odds with his main motivation, which is to make the town work. Even his underlings come up with other ways to manage the crisis of the reveal, but Pilcher dismisses them all. His only resort at this point is total destruction, even though that reduces the total number of humans left in the world by two-thirds. For someone whose motivation was to save the human race, he doesn’t make a lot of sense.

In my review of Wayward, I forgot to mention that Crouch brought in a new character, Adam Hassler, who is another love interest for Theresa, Ethan’s wife, and has been on a mission outside of the town for over three years now. He’s returning to Wayward Pines, and what few chapters there were that featured him didn’t progress the story much. There were hints that he had found something important, but it wasn’t revealed what it was. He hadn’t returned to the town by the end of the novel, and it was well past the halfway point in The Last Town when he finally did. The character felt like a last-minute addition to the story, not just to show the residents what their future could be, but also to inject some melodrama into the story when the love triangle comes together. It felt clunky; had the character been introduced in Pines (and please tell me if he was and I just missed it), it would have been integrated a bit better.

After all that Ethan, Pilcher, and the rest of the town had endured for these three books, the ending was a huge let-down. I expected Ethan to come up with something better than he did to save the town, but instead Crouch ends the story making us question if the characters had learned anything over the course of their adventures. In addition, all of my questions about how the residents survived those two thousand years are exacerbated by how Crouch chose to end this series. I wasn’t thrilled with how Neal Stephenson ended Seveneves, either, but at least he had the guts to take the story to a logical conclusion.

Pines was an intriguing read, namely due to the mystery behind the plot; Wayward and The Last Town were less so because they were more about how that kind of town would work. They’re no less readable, but to rank them solely on how readable they are is like rating an action movie highly just because it has cool action sequences. Story has to take priority here, and with this trilogy, the more you look at the story, the less sense they make. I can see why people like them, but I don’t see that they’re particularly noteworthy.

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