3 out of 4 stars
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The Last Bush Pilots is a novel by Eric Auxier about Alaskan pilots. The central character of the book is a young pilot by the name of DC Alva. When we first meet him he is living in Arizona and flying tourists over the Grand Canyon, but he has dreams of something bigger than this. After getting a call from his old friend Allen he decides to go to Alaska, the last frontier left.
DC meets many colorful characters there, but the biggest of them all is Mother Nature herself. She is a cruel mistress that can turn on you at any moment. There’s a saying in the book that’s repeated by many characters, “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” It really illustrates the danger of their lives.
What I really liked about the book was that it didn’t waste time and very quickly established characters. It tells you who they are and what they want as early as possible. It goes into their past and how they all ended up in Alaska. I could always see a clear picture of them in my head and they always felt like real people, each with their strengths and weaknesses.
A big theme of the book is anti-authoritarianism. All the major characters are united in their disdain for the laws that bind their lives. They want to live free and by their own rules, not those set by some faraway bureaucrats. Inspector Bruner, the closest thing the book has to an antagonist, is a petty man obsessed with enforcing even the smallest rules. He is a symbol of everything the book’s characters hate.
You could really feel the author’s love for the subject matter. He delves deeply into the lives of pilots and all the challenges they have to face. It painted a portrait of Alaska. Not just of the geography, but of the people that live there and their spirit. The book felt very life-like in that at times it was funny and at times it was sad. The characters all spoke in a casual language with occasional swearing and other bad words. It's definitely not a book for people who like their stories without any bad language.
Overall, The Last Bush Pilots was a well-written book that I enjoyed reading. However, it had one big weakness in that the plot was all over the place. I thought at first that the book would be about DC and him growing as a character. We sort of see that, but that’s not really the book’s main focus. Instead, it jumps from one minor story to another and they don’t feel like part of a single narrative. Because of that, I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
The Last Bush Pilots
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