Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Cover image of "The Last Town," the final book in a science fiction trilogy

Spoiler alert: do NOT read this book (or this review!) unless you have already read Pines and Wayward, the first two novels in the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. It makes no sense as a standalone story. Now, assuming that I’m not revealing any secrets, here’s how the novel opens . . .

Sheriff Ethan Burke is confronting the catastrophe he triggered when he told the people of Wayward Pines the truth about how and why they came to live in this seemingly idyllic little town. As we now know, the megalomaniac who built the place had kidnapped the people who became its residents. His name was David Pilcher. When Ethan defied him by disclosing his secrets, he reacted by cutting off all the power and other services to Wayward Pines.

Even worse, Pilcher opened the gate to the outside world and cut off the power to the electrified fence that kept the carnivorous “abbies” away from the town. Wracked with guilt, Ethan now faces his greatest challenge. He must lead the townspeople to safety in the face of what will surely be a murderous invasion by hundreds if not thousands of abbies. If Ethan fails to act, it’s a certainty that the entire population will be eaten alive by invaders.

The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch (2014) 400 pages ★★★★★

Working with his former Secret Service partner (and former lover), Kate Ballinger, Ethan organizes the people of Wayward Pines in an attempt to escape the abbies. Meanwhile, he forces his way into the vast artificial cavern carved into the mountain where Pilcher and his staff of 140 had maintained the services that kept the town functioning — and managed the universal surveillance system that intruded on even the most intimate moments of their lives.

As the abbies pour into town and devour those who insisted on returning to their homes, Ethan makes his way ever deeper into Pilcher’s mountain lair. There he learns that he and the survivors in town face an even greater challenge than surviving an invasion of monsters.

Like the two novels that preceded it in this trilogy, The Last Town is written with consummate skill. The story drives forward at a blistering pace, maintain suspense and surprise until the very end. This is a first-class science fiction thriller. There’s not a whole lot of that around.

You’ll find more great stories by this author at The chilling science fiction of Blake Crouch.

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