Review: The Park Service (Park Service Trilogy Book 1 of 3)

The Park Service - Ryan Winfield

This book shares some similar themes with the Wool series by Hugh Howey, which I had read and really enjoyed a little over a year ago.  I can’t go into detail about what was similar and what was different without spoiling either book, but I can say that they’re both post-apocalyptic books in which survivors from a cataclysmic event on Earth have been living underground for many generations.  Most residents are kept isolated and ignorant of what’s really going on outside their own little area.  

I’ve seen people compare Wool to the Fallout computer game series, but I really thought it only had a very superficial resemblance.  The beginning of The Park Service, on the other hand, had some extremely strong similarities with the tutorial section of the Fallout 3 game.  The similarities with Fallout ended before too long, although there continued to be some similarities here and there with Wool.

I don’t want to write too much about the story and ruin any surprises because there are several twists throughout the book as the true picture is slowly revealed.  Although the story wasn’t very unique in my recent experience, it really was told well so I enjoyed it anyway.  I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t read anything similar before.  In comparison with Wool, The Park Service has much more of a Young Adult vibe, mainly because the story takes place from the first-person perspective of a fifteen-year-old boy.  Other characters who get a lot of page time are also around that age.  However, in terms of the events that actually happen during the story, I would consider The Park Service to be at least as dark as Wool.  Probably quite a bit darker, actually.

The main character, Aubrey, was likeable and sympathetic.  There was another character I also really liked who played a prominent role in the book too.  However, for a boy who was supposed to be very smart, Aubrey sometimes seemed excessively naïve and slow to grasp what was going on.  In the beginning, I could overlook it because his world has been turned upside down and he was out of his depth.  By the end, however, I thought his experiences thus far should have led him to the correct conclusions more quickly.  There was another character who showed up later on, who I really can’t talk about without spoiling too much of the story, but I didn’t care for that character very much. 

I’m referring to Hannah.  I never really trusted her, maybe in part because she was kind of a mystery to the main character so we as readers didn’t really get to know her very well.  I was surprised by some of her choices at the end which were more decent than I expected, but I still couldn’t manage to warm up to her.  I’m still half-hoping she’ll turn out to be evil to justify my dislike of her.  If not, then I hope she becomes more likeable in the next book.

(show spoiler)

The story wasn’t complex, but it did have some moral dilemmas to consider and it held back answers about what was going on in a way that helped to hold my interest.  I had many questions as I read and, as is typical for me, these questions kept me reading in search of the answers I wanted.  These questions are pretty well answered by the end of this book, and the main story is mostly wrapped up while the ending is left open for the continuation of the trilogy.  I had been stuck in a waiting room for longer than expected while reading this book, which is largely responsible for my finishing it so quickly.  I immediately jumped into the second book because I want to see where the story will go next.