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Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Light by Terri Blackstock

In one second, planes begin falling from the sky, vehicles stall out on the road, no electronic device or equipment works, and no power functions. Suddenly everything America depends on is ripped away from them and they are forced to go back to the basics in order to survive. The Branning family has found themselves caught in the middle of unrest and crime throughout their neighborhood since the local police force has been crippled. They attempt to band together with their neighbors, but many of them are tight-fisted. On top of this, there is a killer among the neighborhood who has killed two whole families for the goods they had been hoarding. This only incites more fear and uncertainty. How could people become so dependant on electronics that they have become desperate in their absence?
While the idea of the gift of electricity and electronics being taken away from the world is nothing new, Terri Blackstock has put her own spin to the idea and actually refrained from the usual quest plot pattern most authors use when dealing with this subject. However, Terri stills falls into her old suspense traps in the end, causing this book to only be a little above average.
The characters are no better or worse than typical Terri Blackstock characters-they are all imperfect yet without personalities. Terri continues her trend of a split point of view, but there seems to be too many points of view because it is difficult for the reader to follow all the characters at once. The villain is not as bad as they could have been, at least. Terri still has some work to do with her characters.
Terri accurately captured what would happen if electricity and electronics were suddenly taken away, namely the effect this would have on the economy and on crime rates. The killing is justified and expected in this type of situation, as is amateur crime solving. There is really nothing wrong with the body of the plot, but the cheesy showdown with the killer at the end tarnishes this book's image. It appears that Terri cannot invent a creative end and always resorts to a predictable showdown. When will she ever come up with something different?
On most points, Terri Blackstock is one of the better suspense authors on the market, yet she almost always does the same thing in her books. The day that she refrains from a showdown or actually kills off a key character in the showdown, I will be happy.
3 stars

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