Fiction Reviews

Wayward Pines 3: The Last Town

(2014/ 2023) Blake Crouch, Pan, £9.99, pbk, 303pp, ISBN 978-1-529-09962-9


And so we come to the conclusion of the 'Wayward Pines' trilogy. As with my last review, if you have not read the first in the trilogy, Pines, then do so first as this review will contain spoilers as well as a spoiler=ridden critique (as opposed to a book review) of the trilogy as a whole.

This almost begins exactly where Wayward left off. With the power to the fence switched off, the abbies (abnormals) had entered the small settlement of Wayward Pines and have started slaughtering everyone. However, before this we get an eight-page flashback to 14 years earlier when David Pilcher and his innermost circle first awoke from suspended animation to make their way outside.

We also get a few flashbacks and also asides to our nomad explorer who is returning, just a day or so away from Wayward Pines, having been out exploring for three years,

With the abbies inside Wayward Pines, death ensues. Pilcher's crew in the mountain bunker are unaware of what is going on as Picher has shut them out and given everyone an early night. Sherriff Ethan is one of the few with access to the small arsenal in his office, but even that is not going to help much…

This final episode gives the reader what we have been waiting for, the seeming end of Wayward Pines. But, though this book – that effectively covers the events of a day and a half – is primarily an action fest, there are a few more minor reveals…

Once again, Blake Crouch has given us a page turner (I again read this in three sittings over a couple of days) and the action rarely lets up. So, what of the trilogy as a whole?

Flashbacks aside, the three books are very much a single, largely uninterrupted story. The bulk of the first book lasts just three days with a jump of a couple of weeks at the end with Ethan into his new role as sheriff. Book two covers the events of a few days and, as said, book three just a couple of days. In my review of book one, Pines, I noted that an adaptation to the screen would best be in the format of a film as opposed to a TV series (which is what we got). Book one up to the final chapter would be the opening act. The final chapter of book one and up to the final chapter of book two, Wayward, would be the main bulk of the film, with book three being the concluding act.

The 'Wayward Springs' trilogy, as entertaining as it is – and it is greatly entertaining – works best as a thriller albeit one steeped in SF tropes beginning with the at first sight, mysterious, out of place and enigmatic Wayward Springs settlement. Then we find out that we are in a post-apocalyptic scenario, and time-travel through suspended animation, with monsters (almost rivalling zombies of the 28 Days Later ilk).

Though there are SF tropes galore, Blake Crouch seems to be catering primarily for (and is marketed as such by the publisher) thriller readers. Yes, the SF tropes are there but they are not fleshed out. For example, biologist David Pilcher has discovered that the human genome is mutating/degrading into something else but no explanation is given. (He might have said, and here I quickly invent wildly, that this was evidence of, say, Stephen Jay Gould's punctuated equilibrium spurred by modern living in a violent world. (It would not be difficult to develop a loosely plausible scenario.) But then beyond a popular level, Blake Crouch does not seem to be that into science and in his books it is there little more as arm-waving to explain something necessary to the plot.

And then there are the plot flaws. I'll skate over the minor ones such as a grille to an air duct exposed to the elements for thousands of years would have survived, or even why it was not repaired after Ethan broke it open; an invitation for abbie entry surely?

For me, one of the biggest plot flaws was why take a population to the future where it to would have only 30 generations to go before it to went the same way as the rest of humanity? Here there are workarounds such as genetically selecting them so that the genes for abbie mutations would not be present in this population. But then, as I have indicated, Blake Crouch is not that hot on science even though he uses in a key aspect to some of his novels' plots.

Flaws aside, this trilogy makes for a cracking read.

Jonathan Cowie


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