Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Review: Shift by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey's second novel in the Silo series explores the origin of the silos and the initial plan. The first part of this novel switched between Donald, a congressman with a history studying architecture, and Troy, a man awaken from a frozen slumber into a bleak future beneath the ground. Donald is recruited by Thurman, an elder politician who survives off of nanotechnology to prevent aging. Thurman and his daughter Anna, Donald's ex-girlfriend, use Donald to design the silo as Anna seduces him away from his wife Helen. Troy also discovers mysteries that lurk beneath the ground as his silo supervises other silos that are having trouble keeping their residents in order. Troy watches as a silo collapses and decides to take no action.

The chapters are short and the story moves at a fast pace as Donald learns more about the plans of Thurman and builds the silo. Troy begins to suspect that the pills he is taking are eliminating memories so he stops taking them by tucking them in his cheeks and spitting them into napkins even as it causes sores in his mouth and returns harsh recollections. Soon it becomes clear, if it was obvious already, that Troy and Donald are the same person only separated by a large span of time. We read how the silos came about when the final bombs drop to destroy the land and Donald is forced under just as Troy figures out the truth and tries to escape.

The second shift sees Donald reawakened, this time at the behest of Anna who wants his help as another silo is on the verge of collapse. The second story interspersed between this one is about a young man name Mission who works as a porter carrying items up and down the silo stairs. Mission joins in the uprising as he holds resentment for the fact his mother was executed as a repercussion for having him as a second child. The population in the silos is strictly controlled in order to stave off overcrowding. There are more similarities with the first novel in this section as we see the cryptic IT offering Mission a job but before he can take another porter delivers the package, which turns out to be a bomb. 

The uprising grows at the urging of the Crow, an old teacher who hints at a different world only she remembers. As this silo collapses, Donald pushes to save it but distress of discovering his wife went on to live a life without him distracts him as Thurman goes ahead with the silo's collapse. Mission is caught in the middle as everyone dies around him. Donald tries to fight back but once again he is put to sleep for another century in the frozen storage.

The final part shows how Jimmy became Solo in the collapsed silo, surviving in the locked control room, as Donald is woken up again and this time finds himself in charge. Time passes a lot faster as Donald gets his revenge on Thurman and Anna and wakes his sister to fly a drone around the surrounding area of the silo. The biggest mystery of what is going outside of the silos is still something I'm very curious about and what will motivate me to finish the trilogy. Hugh Howey has hit on something very interesting with this series hence his huge success from self-publishing and I look forward to reading more by the author.  

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