World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books, July 15th, 2014)-(This review assumes you’ve read the first 2 books in the series)–It’s now less than a week until an asteroid will hit Earth, one that is expected to destroy all life as we know it. Feeling the weight of the remaining days pressing down on him, Hank Palace does the thing he always been driven to do: detective work. He’s desperate to find his younger sister Nico, who, since the announcement of the asteroid, has been running with a group that claims they have a solution to the problem, a way to destroy the asteroid and save the world. Hank has always doubted these claims and in the end, it doesn’t really matter. He just wants to be with his sister when the end comes. His search has brought him to an Ohio police station, along with Cortez, who he’s been traveling with for a while. A tragic and bloody discovery opens up an entire new world of clues, and doors, literally and figuratively, begin falling open with shocking swiftness. Time is running out, and Hank must find his sister before it’s too late for everyone.
In reading this superior series, there’s always been a pervasive sense of melancholy, driven by the fact that, if the author stays true to the foundation he’s laid, the world WILL come to an end. Through it all, I couldn’t help but wonder how Winters would do it. Would he end it with a whimper? A fall of ash that blocks out the sun? Or, a quiet acceptance of the inevitable? We know-or think we know- the ending, but it’s the how of it; how his characters handle it, that is, that the author must navigate so carefully. Over the course of three books, I’ve fallen in love with the dogged, determined Hank Palace and the care and attention to detail that he applies to all things, even the smallest things. Because, really, nothing is a small thing anymore when the world is ending in a couple of weeks. The world is crumbling around him, but Hank manages to find diamonds among the rubble, and it’s these people that lift him up, and keep him going, even in the face of such horrid inevitability.
These are books you read with a supply of post it notes nearby because nearly everything is quotable. The writing is sublime and subtle, and honestly, World of Trouble is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. There. I’ve said it. Ever. And I’ve read a lot. There have been a few books that I’ve read thinking “If I was a writer, I’d want to write just like that.”, and this is one of them. Yes, the end of the world is sad, and death is sad, but it’s Hank’s determination to make things right and his grace in doing it, that somehow, makes it bittersweet, instead of just flat out devastating. These books show that beauty, and hope, and kindness can be found even in the most seemingly hopeless of circumstances. Sometimes it’s disaster and hardship that reveals our humanity, and Hank is a perfect example of that, even though he’s not a perfect human being.
Saying goodbye to Hank was hard, but I savored every word, and don’t regret the ride for one minute. Bravo, Ben H. Winters. Bravo.