Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review: Countdown City (The Last Policeman Series) by Ben H. Winters

My rating: 4.25/5

From Amazon: "Now Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over... until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

"Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone 'bucket list' or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off 'impact zone' refugees.

"Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond 'whodunit.' What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?"

I loved book #1, and this did not disappoint as a sequel. It didn't feel as urgent as #1, but it didn't particularly need to be; the urgency from the first book carried over to the second, which probably says a lot for the author's world-building. (And his/Palace's insight into the human condition and the description thereof... faaaantastic.)  It also didn't feel quite as dark as the first book, but I took that to be purposeful. The people who are left are mostly deciding to hang in there until the bitter end, rather than just hanging themselves. Maybe those who have stuck around have a little more hope.

But that's not to say there isn't plenty of death and despair, and things are definitely getting worse. There are sad moments, but at least I was already privy to Palace's childhood at this point and didn't cry at any revelations. His promise to his sister is very sweet, but not tear-worthy, and that's fine.

I wish we'd seen more of the outside world though. Even though Palace travels to several locations, and it makes sense that he really can't travel very far at this point with the general infrastructure of everything having fallen apart, I still felt stuck in a microcosm while reading, even though the entire world is falling into chaos. And maybe that's the point; Palace, and everyone else, probably feels that way too, cut off from the world at large compared to the recently-ended, hyper-information age. I still hope though that in book #3 we get to see more of what's happening to at least other regions of the country, if not the world. If only for curiosity's sake.

Overall, great book, probably good for high school and older.

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