The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3), by Blake Crouch

Four stars (of five)

Hell hath no fury like a god-complex imbued man scorned. Crouch lays this theme out at the beginning of the final Wayward Pines novel and forges ahead with the massive struggles left for the world’s only human inhabitants. After Sheriff Burke revealed the truth about Wayward Pines and its ‘creator’, David Pilcher, to the entire town, things took a dramatic turn and people starting thinking independently once again. Pilcher, feeling that all he’d created was no longer under his sole control, began wreaking havoc in hopes of decimating those who’d previous worshipped him and owed their life to his ingenious plan. Pilcher began removing all that he’d done and left the townfolk to fend for themselves, in a 39th century abyss covered with aberration being whose only means of survival is violence. As townsfolk turn to Burke for protection, he assumes the role as head organiser to deal with the invading throngs and tries to reason with Pilcher the self-proclaimed deity. Burke soon comes to terms with his role in the larger game Pilcher played, making him a pawn in a sick societal game that brought a number of people to Wayward Pines. With time running out and an apocalypse on the horizon, Burke must once again battle with Pilcher to save the town, or see its ultimate demise; the last town left on earth. Crouch brings the series to a crashing conclusion, leaving questions out there with no clear answers, except in the reader’s extrapolating mind.

Taking up this book and series on a recommendation was a giant step for me. While I enjoy a little suspended reality (pardon the pun for series fans) a la Stephen King, I worry that they will soon turn the way of King’s own UNDER THE DOME when television executives got a hold of it. However, Crouch uses his wiles to craft not only a book that forces the reader to step back and watch a quaint town turn into a killing field, but also play an active role in learning about its various inhabitants and the power structure in keeping it together. Part societal microcosm, part Orwellian surveillance state, Wayward Pines tells the story of love, politics, corruption, and complete adherence to a single master plan. It mocks society while addressing its deepest strengths and weaknesses, as only a talented writer can do and still hold onto a semblance of reality. Crouch uses quick chapters (at least in this final instalment) to tell the three layered story of Wayward: before its creation, its inception, and its current destruction. The reader cannot help but follow along and wonder how things will end, or if there is a trapdoor to save humanity. Rigid readers need not pick up the series, but those who thirst for something more than a ‘find the murderer’ thriller should raise a glass (and an eyebrow) to this trilogy.

Kudos, Mr. Crouch for keeping me on my seat from start to finish. I will recommend this to others and be sure to try out some of your other novels and series to whet my appetite for reading.