The final volume is as simplistic as the rest. The characters are all about as canny as your average fourth grader, right down to the general in charge of keeping the superhumans under control. This would be a clear YA title if it weren't for the violence. The Luna brothers never met a compound fracture they didn't want to draw in close-up.
I did quite like the dark ending, and the mixed in flashbacks they used to tie it together.
Part 2: Ghost Stories. A senile, deaf, lonely old man muses on his past while drifting in and out of dementia (the transitions between past-present and confusion-lucidity are brilliant; it's an absolutely believable portrayal of what might be behind the disjointed ramblings of an elderly man with dementia). Once a hockey star with NHL potential, he lost his family, his future, and his happiness to a knee injury and an indiscretion with his brother's wife. A portrait of a life wasted.
Part 3: The Country Nurse. A lonely nurse meddles in the lives of her patients and their family members, including the old man from Ghost Stories and the boy from Tales from the Farm. The relationships between characters from all three stories are highlighted.
Jeff Lemire has a grubby but effective black-and-white illustration style that is easy to get lost in. It's a stolid book, thoughtful and poignant and sad and bleak and powerful. There are a very few happy moments, all the more potent for being so rare.
The opening sentence of THIS book: "John Matherson lifted the plastic bag off the counter."
So yeah, that was strike one. Strike two was when I realized that the foreword was an arm-waving fear-mongering piece of pap written by none other than Newt Freaking Gingrich.
At that point I was just looking for an excuse to quit reading, but--amazingly--there was no strike three. Forstchen recovered the ball, crossed the neutral zone, drove the lane and split the uprights.
Okay, it's not contending for book-of-the-year. His prose doesn't get any better and the book is comprised mostly of 1)dry lectures on history, nation-building, public health, and introductory law, and 2)maudlin monologues about noble sacrifice and conservative heroism (LOTS of the latter).
What can I say, the dry lectures were interesting. Forstchen digs into EMPs and demonstrates just how dependent we are on abundant power and easy transportation. He exposes the pamperedness of 21st century first-worlders and posits some pretty convincing die-off scenarios and survivor conflicts.
All told, it didn't hold a candle to Lucifer's Hammer or World War Z but it was still mentally delicious for an apocalypse nut like me.
Rodriguez hits another homerun, beautiful illustration with plot points always sneaking into the background. Keeps you on your toes. I love his mindscapes, wonderful things happen when someone busts out the head key. LOVE the little hero in Tyler's head that keeps his fear and rage under control and allows him to function.
This is Hill's first real foray into a period setting; his Olde Americain Englysh wasn't great but wasn't terrible; he managed to avoid it becoming a distraction. The "Lovecraft" hints are finally starting to be relevant...I kind of wish I were more versed in the lore of HP so I'd know if I were missing anything.