It seems like a million years since I read the first two books in this series, but in fact I read them in March and June. It just seems longer since this particular book has been staring at me from the shelves of my library since it came out, puppy dog eyes and all. I had been excited to read it when I ordered it, but after Countdown City left me a bit disappointed I was worried this one would leave me even colder.
Spoiler: it did, mostly.
See, I really really really loved the conceit of the first book, which involved a policeman doing his job well when all of his coworkers were phoning it in due to impending apocalypse (aside: I had no idea that the actual definition of apocalypse is “disclosure of knowledge.” BORING.) But in the second book, and even more in this one, there are no more coworkers because, you know, an asteroid is coming to end the world and people have better things to do than be detectives. Except for Palace, who is adrift in this new unordered world and just wants some dang answers.
Which, fine, whatever, but I don’t have to like it. In this go, Palace has left the relative safety of the Police House where a bunch of police-types are waiting out the asteroid that’s on its way in a week. He is headed to Ohio (yay!) to catch up with his sister, who he has pieced together from witness interviews is hanging out there waiting for the scientist fellow who’s going to fix this situation with some last-minute science (science!). Palace and his companion Cortez show up at, what else, a police station, to find no one there… except for a girl lying out in the woods with her throat slit but somehow not dead. Palace takes it upon himself to figure out her deal, the deal with the police station and its sealed-off basement, and of course the deal with his sister who may or may not have raided the vending machine of said station.
It’s an interesting conclusion to the series. There is definitely something to be said for Winters’s ability to convey the absolute uselessness that Palace feels in the face of certain doom, and his struggles to get everything he can in order while it’s still possible. It was also fascinating and a little heartbreaking to peek in on a little community living out its last days in a slightly different way than everyone else, and to see how some people are happy to be assholes to the very end. I liked that we got some solid answers to the questions brought up throughout the series, though some of those answers were a little too convenient, but of course the one big question does not get answered satisfactorily, which, how could it.
I kind of wish I hadn’t read this book, because I knew it wasn’t going to be what I wanted and I read it anyway and it was just as okay as I thought it would be, but at the same time there was no way I wasn’t going to read this book in the hopes of getting some of those answers that I did actually get, so I guess overall it was a win? At least it’s a quick book!
Recommendation: For readers of the rest of the series, but if you haven’t read any yet you can read the first book and then stop if you want.