Monday, August 18, 2014

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

Synopsis From Back Cover:

There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos.  Citizens have barricaded themselves inside basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores.  Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure.  All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.

But detective Hank Palace sill has one last case to solve.  His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity.  Hank's search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime.

I'm not even sure where to start this review, simply because I'm not sure I'm capable of producing a coherent one.  Or at least I'm not sure I'm capable of writing a reasonable, well thought out, unbiased review that will make me sound all smart and scholarly.  Not that I'm saying anyone reads my reviews, and comes away with the idea that I'm some sort of savant book whisperer.  I'm anything but, and trying to write a review for World of Trouble, just emphasizes that point.

Finishing this book, turning that last page, physically hurt.  It caused me to wince a bit, and I had a hard time even being able to put the book away, once I was done with it.  Leaving Hank behind, a character that I have grown to love and admire over three books, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do when it comes to my reading life.  It ranks up there with the sadness I felt with Vanyel Ashkevron sacrificing himself in Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey, the last book in the Last Herald Mage trilogy.  It made me feel that same way I did when I put down The Absolutist by John Boyne once I was done with it.  I felt a physical sense of loss, of something missing.  That something that had become a part of me, no longer was.

I don't think I realized how attached I was to Hank Palace until he was no longer around, that I would not be able to find out how his story ends.  And I think that is the crux of my issue.  I think I know what will happen to him, but the idea of me never knowing for sure, of not being with him at the end, it's a loss I wasn't expecting to feel.  I never know when or how a fictional character will become something more to me, not quite real, but no longer someone I don't care about.  It's one of the mysteries of writing, and I'm pretty sure it can never be planned by the author, or even expected by the reader.  It's a connection that happens rarely, but it's one that I think most authors strive for, and most readers hope for every time they pick up a new book.

I think it's time to move on with the book itself, and I think that part of this review will probably make even less sense to you.  I can't really delve into the story or plot itself, because I'm not sure I can really talk about it without giving too much away.  Of the three books, this probably has the feel of a true mystery, despite the world coming to end.  It's has all the tenseness I love in a well written mystery, and it has more than enough urgency given the circumstance Hank finds himself in, and the search he is on.

What is unlike a lot of mysteries though, is the emotion and heartache threading it's way through the entire thing.  There is so much loss, on micro and macro levels.  How does anyone deal with the pain is beyond me.  Even Houdini, Hank's dog, who I love just about as much, is starting to feel it.

And sadly, this is where I need to end this review.  I would love to be able to tell you what happens, how Hank finds Nico, who he meets along the way, the shocking losses that seem to happen at an almost alarming rate for a while, and how the book ends, but I won't.  This is a story you need to read for yourself. Even if you don't get into mysteries or sci fi normally, I would even be willing to beg on hands and knees, if it would convince you to read this trilogy.


bermudaonion said...

I stopped after the first book and your review has made me want to get the next two!

Marce said...

I love the excitement from your review. Like Kathy, I read the first one and didn't feel the pull to continue.

Glad you enjoyed the trilogy.

The Reading Frenzy said...

Wow, Ryan. Great review you are a book whisperer to me :)
This book is on my shelf and has been since Orbit sent me a copy. I've been in love w/Hank since I first picked up The Last Policeman and I really enjoyed our book club read on my blog when Ben was there too. I'm like you Ryan I'm afraid of saying goodbye but I know I'll have to soon.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts :)

TracyK said...

I loved this trilogy too. Just finished this book last night. Great review and I hope you convince others to try the trilogy.

carol said...

I can't read it unless it turns out the world isn't going to end after all, which I have to assume is not the case. It's a shame, because it really does sound good.