The Last Town by Blake Crouch

The Last Town by Blake Crouch © 2014, Thomas & Mercer

Town is the third of a trilogy about Wayward Pines, an idyllic town with a secret. I did this book on audio, and had not read the previous two installments. The secret of Wayward Pines is that the town was created as a haven against monsters, Abbys (short for aberrants), who roam the pines outside the electric fence. This book did not explain the Abbys existence, other than that they are “evolved” bloodthirsty humans. Presumably, the Abbys were explained in the earlier volumes, but I didn’t need to know everything about them to enjoy Town.

In Wayward Pines, people’s lives are planned for them. Jobs and spouses are assigned by the god-like Pilcher, who created the town. Residents are replaced as needed from a population Pilcher keeps in suspended animation. Some resent their lack of liberty, most just go along. One resenter is the town sheriff, Ethan, who knows more than the Average Joe about Pilcher’s machinations. When Ethan reveals what he knows, ginning up hatred of Pilcher, Pilcher responds by cutting power to the electric fence. If you share the apple, watch out.

The Abbys are now to free to come into town, and they come with a vengeance. At this point, Town became a splatter-fest of people being devoured, and Abbys being slaughtered, until the now much depopulated Wayward Pines is able to hold its own. I stuck it out through the splatter-fest and was glad I did.

Pines townsfolk drag Pilcher from his underground fortress and make him confront all the “wrongs” he’s committed. But you begin to question whether Pilcher or Ethan is the real enemy. Then there is an interesting side story about Adam Hassler, a man who has somehow managed to survive many years outside the fence. He returns to Wayward Pines to reveal he was Ethan’s wife’s former lover-believed-dead, setting up a domestic drama for Ethan. Hassler also reveals what’s really going on outside the fence, further muddying the right/wrong of the town’s rebellion.

The moral dilemma of living free versus living safe elevated Town from schlocky horror to pretty good sci-fi story. I hear the trilogy is going to be a TV mini-series and, judging by Town, I think I’ll watch it. In the meantime, I’m keeping The Last Town safe on my permanent (audio) bookshelf.

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