Cover of METL 2: The Last Wish by Scott Wilson. A large, battered mecha with Xs on its palms stands in front of some houses

About the Book

Title: METL 2: The Last Wish (METL #2)
Published: 2019
Series: METL

Cover Story: Iron Giant
Drinking Buddy: Escape From New York
MPAA Rating: PG (Cartoonish violence)
Talky Talk: Mad Max
Bonus Factors: Mecha, Dig We Must
Bromance Status: Miracle Mile

Cover Story: Iron Giant

Either this thing is a friendly, misunderstood robot that befriends an awkward kid, or it’s an armor plated killing machine, barely controlled by an evil villain. Spoiler: It’s not a friendly robot.

This book is peppered with not-unimpressive illustrations.

The Deal:

In the previous book, we’re introduced to a post-apocalyptic world, where a high-tech meltdown has destroyed all of society. Rebuilding from the ashes, the new civilization is run by the church, where all technology, including the use of any metal, is banned. Caden, a young orphan boy, discovers that his father was secretly a great scientist, who created many wonders. Including, it seems, Caden himself, as evidenced by his ability to shoot death lasers from his palms. Along with his friend Annika, Caden takes off to find his mysterious father and perhaps bring down the evil inquisitors who are running things.

Now the pair have come upon the town of New Darien, a place where the entire population is forced to dig all day, every day, under the guardianship of a giant robot. They’re searching for something. If they resist, the robot will crush them. But if they work tirelessly for fifty years, they can make a wish. And it’s not just a pie in the sky thing: a million bucks? A huge house? A life of luxury? The church keeps its word. Provided you can survive five decades in the dangerous mines.

Caden wants to avoid this place, so he’s kind of surprised when he’s contacted by the underground, who call him ‘King Caden’ and expect him to lead the revolution. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s king. But still, that’s kind of flattering.

Drinking Buddy: Escape From New York

Two pints of beer cheersing

This whole book had a kind of Fellowship of the Rings vibe. Aside from our two original heroes, they’re a girl named Holly who claims to work for the rebellion but whose true allegiance is in question; her mothers Thadi and Simona, the cruel rulers of the town; Amar, Holly’s kindly grandfather; Jadice, the evil usurper who ends every sentence with an exclamation point; Rosemary, Holly’s mutilated biological mother; Helmut, the mysterious man whose features are obscured by a, er, helmet; and Barron, who claims to know Caden’s father.

A nice mix of characters that absolutely do not trust each other.

MPAA Rating: PG (Cartoonish violence)

Okay, did I mention there was a giant robot? And that Caden and some other characters can shoot weapons out of their hands? Heat, cold, even water! That’s kind of awesome. I do love a good post-disaster scenario. Hey, has anyone ever read A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr? Another great book where technology has destroyed society, so technology is banned. Check it out.

Talky Talk: Mad Max

A nice follow up to the original, with Caden realizing that with great power comes great responsibility, and that his actions have consequences. I hope the new characters show up in the next book.

That being said, there were some confusing things about this installment. Technology is absolutely banned, except when it’s not. Amar has a secret functioning television, VCR, power source, and VHS tape from the Hartford, CT chamber of commerce. Tools made of metal are illegal, leading to such bizarre implements as shovels, bells and prison bars made of stone, and handcuffs made of wood. I think the author would have been better off only banning technology, not metal. Also, I didn’t feel a lot was resolved in this book. No real insight into the world-ending disaster. Barron refuses to tell Caden anything about his father or his powers. It was a nice standalone story, but it was like a weekday episode of a soap opera that didn’t really advance the overall narrative.

Still, I’m in this for the long haul and I’m excited about this crew’s future adventures.

Bonus Factor: Mecha

Model of a futuristic robot

How do you keep a populace under control? Weapons? Religion? Xenophobia? Fear? Good ideas, all. But there’s nothing like an eighty-foot-tall robot bristling with doomsday weapons. That will also work. Unless, of course, the thing gets out of control.

Bonus Factor: Dig We Must

So just what are the slaves citizens in New Darien digging for? The church leaders say it’s a powerful weapon, but is it? And why would a technology-free society need a weapon from the old days? Ask too many questions and the robot stomps you.

Bromance Status: Miracle Mile

I’m with you for the whole experience. Anxious to see how this plays out.

Literary Matchmaking

The Chosen (Contender #1)

For another book with a maddeningly vague robot, try Taran Matharu’s The Chosen.

I Hope You Get This Message

I Hope You Get This Message, by Farah Naz Rishi, also deals with the hubris of man and the dangers of technology.

The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Light the World

For a historical look at the men who started this all, pick up The Electric War, by Mike Minchell.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but got neither money or keys to a robot for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.