Maybe it is just too easy to envision the end of the world, but I am having a hard time reading the apocalyptic and dystopian fiction lately. It has been a steady part of my book diet for years. But reading Countdown City and Wayward Pines back to back, during political convention season, was probably a bad idea.
Countdown City is true apocalyptic fiction. Hank Palace is a former police detective. At the end of the The Last Policeman he gave up his job and now he is ‘working’ as a private detective. The problem is that the world is going to be ending in a few months and society is falling apart. (A giant asteroid is coming.)
What is interesting about the trilogy is Detective Palace’s desire to solve the crime in the face of impending doom. What is maddening about this book (and clearly it is intentional) is Palace’s focus on the crime as a tactic to avoid reality. Palace is not getting paid. He is doing the impossible to find a missing man when the whole world has gone missing and at a time when society and infrastructure is crumbling. The minor issues of pay and preparation for the end of the world all end up in the back seat. The constant question from others, ‘why are you doing this?’ annoys both Detective Palace and the reader.
The trilogy is intended to be primarily a mystery series with an apocalyptic setting. The first book achieved that. This second books seems more of an apocalyptic book with a mild mystery theme. Palace is still trying to find the missing man, which reveals a larger issue. But the apocalypse (probably as it should) overwhelms the mystery and the strange behavior of Palace in the face of impending doom is just odd.
It is not that the book is bad, but it is odd. I will read the third book eventually. The series so far certainly justifies that. But it will be a little while. I am not sure I can revisit the end of the world soon.
I picked up Countdown City when it was on sale last fall. The audiobook was a cheap add-on. So I primarily listened to the audiobook with just a little bit of kindle book reading. Peter Berkrot’s narration and style voice and style matched the Countdown City’s content well.