[Read as an ebook from the public library]
Note: This edition is the collection of three novellas.
This is essentially the prequel to Wool, and serves to explain how and why the silos were built and what has happened to the outside world by the time of Wool. It takes place in two different timelines — one follows Donald Keene, a young Georgia congressman in 2049, tapped to help construct a new nuclear waste storage facility in the area outside Atlanta. The other follows Troy, a silo chief in 2110.
When we’re following Troy, we see how Silo 1 works, which is the command center for all the other silos. Workers there are kept in cryogenic sleep for 100 years at a time and then woken up for six-month shifts, unlike the other silos where life continues more or less as normal. But in other silos, revolutions keep happening and silos keep going dark, and Troy and his co-workers have to find ways to manage these uprisings. We also see the first uprising of Silo 17 (Juliette’s silo), and what happened in Silo 18 (Solo’s silo).
The chapters following Donald were a bit harder to get through — there’s a lot of plot about the construction of the waste facility that, because it’s told through Donald’s eyes feels like “Don’t go into the basement, stupid” moments in a horror movie. I felt like things were pretty strongly telegraphed throughout so I knew what was coming chapters before most things happened, which makes for a moderately frustrating reading experience. There’s one specific moment that I think Howey really wants you to be shocked and I was just left like, “Uh huh, I figured as much.” Also I hope you’re interested in nanobots because they’ll be doing the heavy lifting for the rest of this trilogy. I hope you’re not too interested though because if you know too much about nanotech then you might have to suspend an awful lot of disbelief.
The moments in Silo 1 are overall the stronger parts of the book because it’s in more familiar territory from Wool. I was looking for overlap between Silo 1 and the other silos, and how the two narratives matched up, and eventually some of that pays off. Shift is not as strong narratively or as immersive as Wool, but it does at least explain what happened to the world so I appreciated it for that. I’d give this a 3.5 if we could do half stars, but I’ll leave it at 4 because it’s better than it’s worse on the whole.