Year published: 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, near and far, sci-fi.
Two words: Bleak centuries.
The sequel to the incredible Wool omnibus, Shift had a lot to live up to. Hugh Howey has changed the landscape of publishing with his ongoing silo series, and with all eyes on the regularly released shorter component stories, this has been something akin to the Dickensian serials of centuries ago. Consumed eagerly by readers in small chunks before being combined in this collection of three stories, like Wool before it, Shift is a compendium of tales designed to keep bringing readers back to the bleak world it explores. It piles on the claustrophobic underground confinement, destructive apocalyptic conspiracies and a general overwhelming sense of misery. And you still can’t get enough of it.
What Hugh Howey’s Shift is all about
Where Wool revelled in the desperately narrow vision of Silo 18’s isolated existence, Shift flips the story around to show us the people in charge of the project. Split over three parts, divided by centuries, we are given an insight into the other silos in the time leading up to Jules’ escape in the first novel. There’s Silo 1, where the overseers keep an eye on the ongoing project, Silo 17, where a chaotic uprising leads to decades of isolation for a sole survivor, and Silo 18 itself (much earlier), where a lowly porter finds himself at the heart of a civil war. These tales all share one through-line, as the characters managing the whole affair take centuries long naps in cryogenic pods.
Alongside all this action, we get an insight into the ugly truths of where the silos came from, why they were built and what drove people into them.
Why you should read this book
If you’ve read Wool, you’ll already be familiar with this unique world of Hugh Howey’s, and his ability to capture its brutally lonely atmosphere in an eminently readable way. Like the first book, Shift is so engaging it’s difficult to put down. By expanding the scope of the tale, it loses a little of the claustrophobic grimness of Wool, but it’s a worthy continuation of the tale, and is sure to leave you wanting for more. And you’re in luck there, as the final book in the trilogy, Dust is already available.
If you haven’t read Wool…it’s best to go here and correct that now.