While I ended up liking this novel, or collection of three novellas, it didn’t grab me in the same way that its predecessor, Wool, did. The three stories combined tell the story from the beginning of the silos, and take the reader up to the end of Wool, where Silo 18 has become aware of at least part of what is going on.
Here’s the good news: I thought Dust was way better than Shift.
Not quite so amazing as Wool.
And yet, even though I wasn’t as blown away by Dust as I had hoped, I’m still quite in awe of Hugh Howey. Two years ago, he was just a guy who self-published a short story on Amazon. And these days, most people I know have at least heard of him, even if they haven’t read any of his books. He’s got a movie deal. He made a huge pile of money for Dust. So, good on you, Hugh. You deserve it.
I don’t want to get into details or spoilers, but I can easily say that Dust gives answers to almost all of the questions raised in the previous books. We find out a lot of “whys” and “hows” about life underground in Georgia. The action neatly jumps between Silos 17 & 18 (Juliette’s and Solo’s homes), as well as Silo 1, where Donald and Charlotte are still trying to piece the past several hundred years together.
And, I’ll admit, I was a bit bored for the first half of the book.
Something happens, and I couldn’t put it down after that. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night (which I never do anymore), because I needed to know. I needed to know about the plan that Thurman and his cohorts dreamed up for the residents of the silos. Why are the silos ranked? How is the population control lottery arranged? What happens when a silo slips beyond the control of the men on shift in Silo 1? And what does WOOL mean, anyway?
Character wise, I was glad to have a lot of Juliette back in this book — I missed her in Shift. And was also glad to see Solo’s character really have a chance to grow into a strong presence, into a real father figure for the kids left alone in Silo 17. And it was exciting to read as Donald raced against the clock (as his health is clearly not going to improve while he hacks away into his bloody rags) to find out the truth, whereas I didn’t find Donald’s stuff too exciting in Shift. Will he and Charlotte ever find out if the blue sky they thought they saw was real? Will Donald’s true identity ever be revealed? Will Charlotte have to live in secrecy forever? Yikes. Way more exciting than whining about Helen and Anna and wondering about nanos.
All in all, I’m really glad I read the entire trilogy, which is something I haven’t had the pleasure of saying too frequently (I’m looking at you, Chemical Garden).
Three and a half stars for Dust. Four stars for the trilogy as a whole.
You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
I remember downloading Wool ages ago. I saw Joel McHale tweet something out about how it was his new favorite sci-fi book and author. And the Kindle download was super cheap (or free? that’s super cheap), so I went for it. And then I left it there in my little Kindle cloud for a while and kind of forgot about it.
When I finally read Part One, I was hooked. I immediately downloaded the rest of Wool and tore through it. I loved the imagery of this futuristic world that we didn’t know too much about. I thought the ideas of baby lotteries and cleanings and different color overalls was brilliant. The story of the Mayor and her Deputy’s love from afar? Amazing. Beautiful.
What I liked best was that FINALLY I was reading a self-published Kindle book that wasn’t rubbish. It wasn’t a cutesy detective Evanovich knock-off or a creepy Dean Koontz wannabe. It was totally original and well done, and that in itself is worth 5 stars.
And then I read Shift. And while the writing is still great, and the ideas are still original, I just didn’t love it as much as Wool. In fact, I had a pretty hard time getting through it. It took me months. I would pick it up, read a chapter or two, and then move on to something else that I enjoyed reading instead. The secrets that are revealed via Donald and Anna and Senator Thurman were just too much for me. I mean, I love a good dystopian story as much as the next person, but this vision of the future was tough for me to read. I simply didn’t enjoy it, and for me, that’s a big issue.
But still. I’m still a huge fan of Hugh Howey. I’ll still be participating in the Pajiba book club discussion next week. And I’ll most definitely read Dust when it comes out later this month. But I don’t have a good feeling about the ending for our Silo residents. While I feel good about what Juliette and Lukas could potentially accomplish in their little world, I’m more concerned about how quickly Donald is becoming completely unhinged in Silo 1 and what he might be capable of as his time runs out.
4 stars for Wool. 3 stars for Shift.