Book Review: Shift by Hugh Howey

Shift (Shift, #1-3; Silo, #2)Shift by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read for the Apocalypse Now! Reading Challenge.

Method of the world’s destruction: Nanobot plagues and nuclear weapons.

I really loved the first book in the series, Wool Omnibus, more so because this was an indie writer who’s become mainstream. So when I discovered there were more books, I had to get access to them right away.

So I got this one out of the library. Unlike Wool, this is not a collection of stories, but two stories that were written in tandem, taking us back and forth between them and in some cases, back and forth in time. The first story explains how the silos got there and what happened to the world to destroy it. The second explains how Jimmy ended up alone in Silo 18, for those of you who have read the first book.

I don’t think that someone who has not read Wool will appreciate this one as much as someone who has, just because they’ll have no context. Can you read it as a standalone without reading Wool and understand it? Yeah, you sure can.

There’s some really powerful stuff in this story, and the language choices are amazing. Five stars to a whole sequence about a cat that Jimmy found lost in the Silo. I cried.

On the other hand, I thought this story suffered in comparison to Wool because the bad guys were unfathomable to me. They did some crazy things that made no sense and were utterly stupid. Is this a commentary on Washington? If so, okay, but the problem with fiction is that sometimes, stuff that people actually would do seems improbable in writing, and I think this was the case here.

Were these people supposed to be super-religious and trying to fulfill Biblical prophecy? If so, the bad guys make sense; but that’s the only way they make sense, so I find myself wondering if Howey didn’t want to say so for fear of offending people?

That being said, I loved the main character because he’s an anti-hero in the classical sense; he’s just a guy, and he doesn’t necessarily do things heroically. And I liked one of the minor antagonists that he dealt with because she seemed very human to me. I grokked her. She’s horrible, but I’ve known women like her.

It left some mysteries still to be revealed too.  One wonders at the ending, and whether it’s true or an illusion.  There’s a third book in the series. Looking forward to reading it next year for a new Apocalypse Now! challenge!

View all my reviews

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