You know what? I just finished this book four days ago and I’m already beginning to forget the details of the plot. I think that’s sort of sad. But maybe it means that these books don’t have much staying power, even though they were just about all I thought of while I was reading them. I guess only time will tell.
So where was I when last we met? Ethan Burke (who I always think is named Ethan Hunt, the main character in Mission: Impossible, but he’s not) had just told the other residents of Wayward Pines, Idaho the truth of their strange sequestered life: they were abducted by an evil genius (Bethany: idea for new subgenre—books with evil geniuses as the primary antagonist) named David Pilcher or one of his followers at some point in the late twentieth or early twenty-first centuries, put in suspended animation, and woken up eighteen hundred years in the future, when humanity is extinct other than them, and the world is overrun by our “descendants,” insanely powerful intelligent creatures with translucent skin, talons, and arms that are longer than their legs. Pilcher retaliates by turning off the power to the town and the electric fence and opening the gate that keeps the aberrations out of Wayward Pines and telling them all, “Fuck you! Good luck!”
The bulk of the novel details the rapid demise of the residents of Wayward Pines at the hands of the abbys. Any place the humans can find the abbys can penetrate. Nowhere is safe for longer than a few hours. Ethan makes his way back into the stronghold in the mountain to try to get power restored to the town and to the electric fence and to bring David Pilcher back to Wayward Pines to face justice. The tone of the novel is dark and violent and it is absolutely gripping in the moment, but not, ultimately, memorable.
It comes out towards the end of the novel that Wayward Pines is running out of supplies and that even if they can manage to survive the assault of the abbys they are going to run out of food in several years. The growing season is too short where they are to feed everyone through the winters, and their options are limited—if they try to move to a better climate they will surely be chased down by the abbys before they can get there. They finally make a decision to put themselves back into suspended animation to wake up in the future when maybe conditions will be more suitable to their survival. The novel ends with the words, “Seventy thousand years later, Ethan Burke’s eyes slammed open (283).” We have no idea if they were supposed to sleep that long, if everyone woke up, who woke Ethan up, anything. Talk about a cliffhanger, right? I have not a clue if Crouch is planning to write more Wayward Pines books, but despite feeling that this book is the least strong of the three, I would still read more about these people and this most weird of dystopian worlds.
I definitely enjoyed The Last Town the least of the three books. Don’t get me wrong, it was gripping and I definitely stayed up way past my bedtime reading it, but it was the weakest of the three. I’m not sure if it was because it was the third book of Crouch’s I’d read in a row and I had been completely immersed in his writing style for almost nine hundred pages, but he seemed to have some phrases he was using a lot of all of a sudden. It may not have been “all of a sudden,” but it seemed like it. I can’t think of any of these things right now and I’m not going to start digging through the book to find them. Crouch also spends way too much time describing all of the guns people use in The Last Town. I really don’t care what kind of shotgun Ethan likes the best, nor do I care what “ghost loading” is, even though I googled it because he spent so much time doing it in the early part of the book. These details only told me that Crouch wanted to tell everyone how much he knows about firearms.
A positive about the last book in the trilogy is that Crouch shifts the perspective away from Ethan and gives the reader a bit of insight into the thoughts of several of the other characters. This was useless when he used this to introduce characters who would soon be eaten by the abbys, but actually helpful and entertaining when he goes inside David Pilcher’s head, both via flashbacks to our present-day as well as in the future. An interesting thing is that at one point in a flashback he says that he plans to tell the residents of Wayward Pines the truth about where and when they are. Crouch never reveals what caused Pilcher to change his mind about that; I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m sort of hoping he’s saving it for another book because I would really love to know how a once idealistic scientist turns into a despot who wants to be considered a deity screaming at the citizens of his town that they need to obey him.
In the end, I am glad I read these books–they were entertaining as hell and the premise was really interesting. They aren’t perfect, but what novel is? I doubt I am going to become a follower of Blake Crouch’s work, but I will definitely be on the look-out for more Wayward Pines books.
You mention that Pilcher talked of telling the people the truth but then changed his mind. Didn’t he admit to Ethan at the end of “Pines” that they tried explaining everything to the people the first time around, but the population of the town went nuts (something like 40% killed themselves while the rest rioted)? I believe that was the point where he said, “Screw it; let’s do it my way.” On a related note, I, too, would be interested in reading more about the people of Wayward Pines. Perhaps Crouch will consider a fourth volume if the Fox miniseries does well enough!
Yes, Pilcher did mention something about having to “start over” at one point with the population. I was just hoping for more details than Crouch gave us! I guess I wanted more of a gradual development of Pilcher’s megalomania than what I got. 🙂