9.14.2014

World of Trouble, by Ben H. Winters

If you haven't read the first two books in this series, The Last Policeman and Countdown City, I strongly recommend that you don't read this review. It's going to be hard enough for me not to include spoilers as it is without worrying about spoiling the rest of the series for people who, inexplicably, haven't gotten on this wagon yet.

World of Trouble
World of Trouble is a bleak book. Only a few vestiges of civilization remain. Some people are seeing the world out by partying. Others are digging in, literally, to create doomsday bunkers. Most people would rather shoot Palace than help him out. Still, Palace continues his self appointed quest to rescue his sister Nico, there is just a week before a planet-killing asteroid is going to strike Indonesia.

Nico had joined a gang of desperate crusaders in trying to save the world from Maia, the asteroid. But something has gone wrong with their plan and the last Palace knew, she was heading for somewhere in Ohio. Along with his faithful dog, Houdini, and a thief with ulterior motives, Palace bikes west from his safe haven at Police House.

Once he arrives in Rotary, Ohio, Palace comes across a crime scene. There's blood in the sink at the police station and no one around. Cortez, the thief, is ready to pack it in, but Palace is nothing if not dogged. He falls back on his abbreviated police training to run the scene and find out what happened because he just knows that Nico was there. And then the pair find a woman with her throat cut in the woods. Surprisingly, she's not dead, but she's not ready to talk about what happened. On top of this mystery, Palace and Cortez also find evidence that Nico's group has dug into their own bunker and sealed themselves in below a slab of concrete. Before the world ends, Palace just has to find out what happened to Nico and make sure she's safe—one last time.

World of Trouble is a fast read. It was over almost before I'd had a chance to sink in. As I read it, I was terrified that Winters would give us a St. Elsewhere-style ending. And I really didn't want to throw my iPad across the room if that happened. I should have had more faith because Winters is a braver writer than that. The other thought that occurred to me as I read World of Trouble was that Winters has given us science fiction and fantasy folks a logotherapy tale of our own. Palace's life at the world has meaning because he gave it meaning. He's the last policeman, while everyone else abandons their post or their humanity or their hope. This trilogy is unforgettable.

My only regret now is that the book wasn't longer. I wasn't ready to see the last of Henry Palace.

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