Pros: Fascinating concept; plenty of tension
Cons: The concept comes on too suddenly near the end; is too readily accepted
Rating: 4 out of 5
In Hope Erica Schultz’s The Last Road Home, Josh has heard voices all his life: “You don’t belong here. You shouldn’t exist.” Ms. Moore, his teacher, provides rare relief simply by her presence. Then the unthinkable happens: forest displaces much of the land–buildings and cornfields are simply cut off at a border. A plane tries to land in Cincinnati only to find that the airport and its runways are gone. That plane makes an emergency landing in a river, and a handful of people survive: mostly a couple of nuns and their charges, including 15-year-old Maria. They know something is terribly wrong with the world, but they have no idea what to do about it. Gradually they start building a new life for themselves. Josh and Ethan, two of the group near the cornfields, find out about the people from the plane when they find a working radio. They head out to find the new group and bring them to their new home.
“Ma’am, I think we can rule out a reasonable and boring explanation,” Ethan said, his voice curiously choked.
“I always did hope to see the end of the world,” Miss Mapleton agreed.
The characters have some depth (not so much with the children, but most of the adults). Ethan and Josh are incredibly different, but they gradually create a friendship largely based on ribbing each other and calling each other names. It’s interesting to watch them gradually grow from near-antagonists to strong friends.
At some point the characters jump to a multiple worlds theory with very few clues to point them in that direction. I’m pretty sure there were some simpler explanations that should have been considered first. Later they get clues which much more strongly indicate the truth of one theory over others.
I have to say that the character of Sister Agatha is incredibly creepy, and it’s interesting to watch as she becomes more and more fixated on Josh. It’s clear she hates him, and frankly no one wants to allow her near a weapon.
I really enjoyed The Last Road Home. There are no preppers. No convenient shopping malls. Some resources here and there, but the group will have to figure out how to live without them soon enough. It made a nice change from some of my recent reading.