Countdown City by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hank is no longer a policeman, but he's all boy-scout, which happens to make him an ANTI-HERO in this world.
That's pretty funny, isn't it? I mean, sure, we like to make fun of those types of people, right? But in a world full of crumbling order, near anarchy, and bucket lists and *mostly* good people doing whatever they really wanted to do before the last 77 days come around and wipe them all out, that one person who lives by heroic high-ideals, the man who tries to find a missing person in a world full of suicides, is meant to be *our* hero.
It's damn funny. Hell, I think this might have turned into one hell of a comedy, if the voice was a slight bit different or the observations even *less* self-aware and other's reactions *more* violent. But alas, there were still enough people who respect Hank and what he's doing that I got tricked into respecting the guy. Hell, maybe I even like him, a little.
He's the best-behaved, idealistic, most duty-bound BAD BOY I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Strangely enough, maybe it's just me, but I like this second book a lot more than the first. I think it's because I'm just used to the guy and I can appreciate what he's doing despite the fact that he annoys almost everyone around him. Maybe it's because he no longer has any authority to be a boy-scout, too. Less authority makes him a bit more sympathetic. :) Now he's just a *really* good samaritan in a collapsing world full of a strangely large number of libertarian social constructs. :)
There *are* a lot of interesting levels to this novel beyond the mystery, although the mystery structure is better here than the first book. I think I like the world-building best, though, right after the weird character commentary. Winters has a *lot* to say about human nature, and it's actually pretty delightful once you get over your annoyance at having to follow this guy around. :)
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