Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: "World of Trouble" by Ben H. Winters

I both love and hate reading a series of books. I love the familiarity of the characters and the settings, as it's kind of like spending time with old friends. The downside, of course, is that a series eventually comes to an end, and while sometimes the conclusion is satisfying (although you don't want it to end), many times it's disappointing.

With that in mind, I approached World of Trouble, the final novel in Ben H. Winters' terrifically creative and emotionally powerful Last Policeman series, with a great deal of trepidation. I so enjoyed the first two books and absolutely loved the world he created, so I hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed with how he concluded the series. (Spoiler alert: I wasn't.)

"I was a detective for only three months, promoted out of nowhere and dismissed just as abruptly when the CPD was absorbed by the Department of Justice, and so I never received the higher-level training I would have in the normal run of a career."

Henry "Hank" Palace was a police detective in New Hampshire. He was tremendously dedicated to his job. The problem was, scientists discovered that a giant asteroid was on a collision course with Earth, thereby ending the world as we know it, so his job was eliminated, as police departments all across the world were phased out. But Hank couldn't turn off his instincts to uncover the truth about crimes he is aware of, or his need to protect his sister, Nico, who has fallen in with a group of people convinced there's an Armageddon-esque way to destroy the asteroid before it destroys Earth, but the government has covered it up.

When World of Trouble begins, Hank is holed up in New England in a well-stocked safe house with a number of his former law enforcement colleagues, getting ready for the end of the world. But he desperately wants to find Nico before the asteroid hits, and so he finds himself traveling to Ohio with his sidekick, Cortez, and Houdini, the dog he somehow adopted. Along the way, they encounter cities taken over by violence, cities which seem empty because their residents have gone into hiding, and cities which truly are abandoned. And Hank can never turn off his protective instincts, as many of the people he tries to help remind him of Nico.

Their arrival in the small Ohio town leads them to several startling and disturbing discoveries. And as the amount of time for Hank to find Nico before the asteroid hits dwindles, Hank is desperate to figure out where she has gone and what led her there, but more than that, he wants to truly understand whether the solution she so fervently believed in was as far-fetched as it sounds, or if this could be reality. But the truth is far more disturbing—and dangerous—than he imagined.

I don't know how I imagined Winters would conclude this series, but I definitely thought that World of Trouble was a fitting, well-done conclusion, which remained true to Hank's character and the situations that Winters created for him. As you might imagine of a book set in the last few days before the world is expected to end, this was tremendously moving and poignant, and very well-written. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep my interest, but as with the other books in the series, I also found the whole idea very thought-provoking, as I wondered how I would handle knowing that the world was expected to end in a matter of days.

I would definitely recommend you pick up this series, and read it in order. You'll be amazed at Winters' creativity and his storytelling ability, but you'll also find yourself fully immersed in this world, and hooked on these characters.

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