Sand by Hugh Howey
After the success of Wool, Hugh Howey was facing a lot of pressure to come up with something even vaguely as good. With Sand, Howey stuck with the always fun theme of gritty post-apocalypse but reversed the world. As opposed to Wool, the poor bastard survivors of humanity now live on top of the sandy soil and spend a lot of their time trying to reach the old world that lies beneath. Principally by diving through the sand with tanks and a device that hardens the sand around them to form a kind of tunnel thing – it doesn’t matter, they dive ok?
The story in the Sand Omnibus kicks off with the discovery of the legendary buried city of Danvar. Everyone wants in on this and as society is pretty lawless, there are a lot of pirates/bandits/ne’er-do-wells all fighting for a bit of the action. The plot is told from the point of view of a family – two of which are “sand divers”, and the others are all likeable and pretty smart. The characters of each are fleshed out nicely and you really empathise with their situation and this in turn makes the world more believable.
Like with Wool, Sand by Hugh Howey has a great cast of characters, is well written, and has an intriguing premise with lots of word-building and mystery. In my opinion the end felt a tiny bit rushed, but it didn’t really impact on the story itself or create any dissatisfaction. I guess I just wanted a bit more. I liked Sand a lot and have no hesitation in recommending it. Howey is a good writer and I look forward to his next book. Which will presumably be a post-apocalyptic tale set in floating sky-ballon communities as the Earth has been poisoned for some mysterious reason – but a plucky group reckon that we can actually live on the surface and against all odds unearth a huge secret. And so on.
I digress. Conclusion: Sand is great. Read it.
Shift by Hugh Howey
Shift by Hugh Howey is the second book in the Silo series. The first one was Wool. Both are brilliant.
Shift is actually a prequel that establishes how the whole scenario of people living in underground bunkers in a post-apocalyptic world came about. It ends by running parallel with the end of the first book.
Shift has three principal protagonists – Donald, a man who designed the bunkers and ends up in Silo 1; a guy called Mission who is in a bunker that is on the verge of revolution; and Jimmy, who was in Wool.
Donald’s story begins when he is a senator years before any of the madness started. Thanks to cryogenics, his story spans hundreds of years. We get a lot of questions answered during his tale (and the book as a whole) but more questions are then raised.
To be honest, I’m not all that keen on prequels as you effectively know what is going to happen and who is going to live. While this true with Jimmy’s story, his tale of survival is still a great read. Donald’s story is effectively a whole new scenario where anything can happen. There are some great moments in Shift and some amazing surprises and events. So don’t be too concerned about the whole prequel business.
This is the second book of the trilogy and if I was to be a tiny bit negative, it would be to say that it did feel a little bit like book two of a trilogy (but a superb trilogy). If you know what I mean. As I said, Shift doesn’t suffer from the ‘I know what is going to happen’ common to prequels, but it does feel like the pieces are being aligned for the final act. Having said that, the story is satisfying and intriguing and highly enjoyable in it’s own right.
If you have read Wool and are uncertain whether you should continue with the story then worry no more – read Shift and enjoy. As further ecouragement, you have to read this in order to read book three. Which is the best of the lot.
You can buy Shift on kindle here:Shift by Hugh Howey