Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sci-Fi Mystery: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Series: The Last Policeman #2
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date: July 16, 2013
Format: ARC
Source: GoodReads First Look
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 316
Reading time: four days

From GoodReads: There are just 74 days to go before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband. Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

My review: I liked Countdown City for pretty much the same reason that I enjoyed this series' first book: it's different. It's speculative fiction, but the setting is pre-apocalypse, not post-apocalypse, and many of the genre tropes are ignored. At the same time, the novel is also a mystery, but unlike a lot of other crime/thriller series I've run across, time and the overarching plot move forward  from book to book and give a greater depth to the story.

Otherwise, though, I didn't enjoy this sequel quite as much as the first book. There was less dark humor; it just wasn't as much fun. The plot and characters also seemed less well-developed. It felt like Hank was jumping to too many conclusions without taking the reader with him, and his actions at times seemed a bit random and not very well thought out. I ended up enjoying this read more for its storyline's basic difference from the YA dystopian novels I usually stick to than for its style or plot details, the elements that really make a book stand out.

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