Wayward Pines: The Last Town

I just finished the third book in the Wayward Pines trilogy. It took me about three days, which for me, is completely unheard of. I’m not a fast reader and have a hard time meeting the two week deadline when checking books out from the Library, but this book, as well as the first two, captured my imagination. It’s not exactly complicated writing either. As I touched on in my review of the first two books, plot holes abound and depth is not something you’re going to find here. However, it’s still a fun series to read for those who miss the X-Files and Twin Peaks.

Despite my rapidly growing dislike for the people of Wayward Pines, and of humanity in general (more on that later), I would recommend the books to anyone who enjoys sci-fi or thrillers, and is looking for a quick read. I’ve found them to be surprisingly thought-provoking, though my thoughts ended up being rather dark. Read the books and decide for yourselves whether the human race is worthy of saving, if preserving the way human beings are today is simply messing with fate, or they only way to survive.

If you don’t want to know anything about what happens in these books, don’t read this review. It does contain spoilers.

Book three begins where book two left off. Ethan had revealed the truth about Wayward Pines (that the man in charge, Pilcher, had kidnapped everyone, put them in suspended animation for 2000 years, and they were the only ‘human beings’ left in existence, the rest of the species having evolved into murderous, blood-thirsty monsters they call abbies, or aberrations). Pilcher took his revenge on the town by shutting off the electrified fence protecting the town from the “abbies” and opening the gate, allowing 500 or so abbies to decimate the residents of Wayward Pines. Only a quarter of the citizens survived the attack and holed up in the basement of the school, while Ethan went to the compound in the mountain where Pilcher ran things with about a hundred “faithful” followers.

He was able to prove to the Faithful that Pilcher had killed his own daughter, whom everyone in the mountain loved, and was successful in turning them against Pilcher. They turned the fence on, shut the gate, and wiped out the rest of the abbies in town. The people of Wayward Pines then voted first on what to do with Pilcher (they sent him into the wilderness beyond the fence to be killed by the abbies), and then what to do with themselves. They only had four years worth of food left and either needed to accept their fate, live out the four years and then die, or make their way south to warmer weather where they could grow food, but risk being wiped out by the abbies. They all chose a third option, to go back into suspended animation for 75,000 years and see what awaited them.

So Pilcher being sent off into abby territory to die a vicious death was not surprising; we all saw that one coming. I was surprised, though, by their choice to go back into suspended animation with no guarantee that anyone would survive, that the world they woke to would be any safer. I guess it makes sense, though. Out of all the options it is the most balanced between risk and safety. I can live with that. What I was really disappointed by, though, was the lack of influence the less violent, more thoughtful abby had in the third book. She was introduced in the second book and I was really hoping that she would play a larger role in the third, perhaps helping the people of Wayward Pines learn to communicate with the abbies and to find a way to co-exist.

That might have been too tidy an ending, though, and honestly there’s no way she would have wanted to help them after most of her experience with them had been her capture and torture. One good moment, Ethan releasing her into the wild after massacring hundreds of her kin, does not a friend make.

In the end, I kind of wanted the abbies to win. To wipe out the people who had treated them like “its” rather than intelligent beings. It’s hard to explain, but the way the citizens of Wayward Pines and the people in the compound treated the evolved humans really bothered me. Even Ethan, the main character, captures an abby, brings it to town to show people, then mercilessly executes it in front of everyone. He kidnapped it just to make a spectacle out of it and then murder it. To me it bares a striking resemblance to what we do with trophy hunting these days. A total lack of respect in my view, and totally undeserving of a second chance 2000 years into the future, or of a third chance 75,000 years after that.

This summer I’ve lost a lot of respect for our species. Mostly because of the stories of the animals that are being brought in to Wildwoods for rehabilitation, or of animals that should have been. People are so caught up in themselves, in what they want, that they don’t ever stop to consider the needs of the life that surrounds them. Just this weekend tourists near Grand Marais wanted to pet a bear cub and chased it until it died of exhaustion. We’ve had birds come in that had been tortured by children throwing rocks, trying to get their dog to attack them. People who want their cat to go outside so they trap and move fox kits, separating them from the mother that will help them survive.

…[inhale. pause for a moment. exhale]…

Well. That took an unexpected, and decidedly dark, turn. I promise my total view on the issue of humanity, while skeptical, is not so hopeless. I guess lately I’ve just been faced with the less-than-savory aspects of people more often than the good. I still think that we all have a choice to make – what do we want to evolve into? The humans of author Blake Crouch’s books had evolved to embrace violence. As I mentioned in my last review, evolution is determined by our surroundings, and I believe we determine our surroundings. We have the power to choose what we evolve into by impacting the people around us and our environment for either good or bad. So what will we choose?

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