What would you do if you knew that a large asteroid would be hitting the Earth on a specific date just a few months in the future, with no way out, no place to hide? Would you keep working? Would your children go to school? What about food and fuel? What kind of existence would it be while everyone waited for the inevitable end? This is the terrifying dilemma facing the entire world in Ben Winters' novel Countdown City.
Countdown City is the second novel of a trilogy. The first book, The Last Policeman, found Henry Palace coping as best he could with the news that an asteroid was going to hit the Earth, an asteroid that was large enough to destroy most of the world and leave the remainder without much hope of survival. At that time Henry was still employed as a policeman and still trying to go about his crime-solving duties under terrifying circumstances.
In this sequel, Henry is waiting with the rest of the world for the end to come. The asteroid is due in 77 days, and things are falling apart at an ever-increasing rate. His career as a policeman is certainly over, but his desire for fairness and order is not, even in the face of imminent destruction. Supplies are dwindling, and people are leaving in droves for areas where they think they will find whatever they need or want in the last days of their lives. Husbands are abandoning wives and parents their children in desperate last efforts to find some kind of hedonistic pleasure in being alive.
Henry is asked by his childhood babysitter to help her find her missing husband. She is convinced that he is a man of character and would have not simply abandoned her to go his own way. She asked the right person. Henry, too, is a man of good character and cannot refuse her request.
Countdown City is the story of Henry’s search for the missing husband and the desperate people and plots he finds along the way.
Although both of these books are set in a dire and frightening time, the strength and goodness of human nature is as evident--as is its depravation.
It’s a good edge-of-your seat book, and I eagerly await the final installment in the trilogy, World of Trouble.