& Reviews: Dust by Hugh Howey

Dust by Hugh Howey. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: CreateSpace. August 2013.

Dust by Hugh Howey. Science Fiction/Fantasy. Publisher: CreateSpace. August 2013.

The Book Itself: This simple, graphic cover brings to mind the barren, undesirable landscape outside of the silos. It looks pretty damn ominous to me, a good final note to end a dystopian series on.

My Review: In a time when secrets and lies were the foundations of life, someone has discovered the truth. And they are going to tell.

Jules knows what her predecessors created. She knows they are the reason life has to be lived in this way.

And she won’t stand for it.

But Jules no longer has supporters. And there is far more to fear than the toxic world beyond her walls.

A poison is growing from within Silo 18.

One that cannot be stopped.

Unless Silo 1 step in

I followed up Shift, Hugh Howey’s self-published sequel to his very well-done omnibus Wool, with this novel so that I could really read the series from start to finish and get my impressions of it as a whole.

My impression? The first book is by far the best.

Dust picks up where Wool left off, with Juliet now the major of her silo, Donald causing trouble/generally going nuts over in Silo 1, and Solo/Jimmy worrying about being around people again over in his own silo. His concerns eventually become moot point because Juliet is just going to drill over there anyway, and all the worlds collide.

This book tries to pick up the action from Shift, and in doing so, several things get lost in the shuffle.

First, good old Donald. I never connected with Donald in Shift and I don’t feel any closer to him now. He makes even more stupid decisions, is basically haunted by his former boss, and never really redeems himself from being an emotional wreck. We meet his sister, Charlotte. Her main purpose in the story is to worry about her brother and put her background in mechanical skills to work finding out more about the world beyond the silos. I don’t feel overly connected to her either.

Several promising plot points are abandoned, whether from the series’ previous installments or Dust creating stories of its own. There is an extremely confusing side story about Elise, one of the children living with Solo/Jimmy in Silo 17, and then moving over into Silo 18.

Semi-spoiler alert here, folks. But the side story goes nowhere so I do not think you would be hurt for reading about it. For no apparent reason, the church that sets up shop in Silo 17 decides to kidnap Elise and marry her off to a grown man against her will or understanding. It is very unclear why they think marrying children is a sold plan for a future in a new silo. Is every adult going to marry multiple children, and thus (really grossly) repopulate the silo with dozens more new children? There is no indication of the church really having much of a presence in either of the other books. In fact, I am only really made aware of the church’s existence in the beginning of Dust, when Juliet talks to a priest about her unpopular decisions to drill beneath the silos. So why spend a brief handful of pages on this creepy set up when it ultimately serves no conclusion or purpose? Jimmy gets Elise back, they move on, and no one from the church comes after them. If the entire purpose was to show just how low people could sink in the wake of destruction, it is not done very clearly or, I think, effectively.

The ending tries to put too positive an ending on a tragic (and not yet finished!) story. We do not know the definitive fate of anyone other than the handful of people interacting at the end of the story. Did silos that fell in this book truly fall? And what about every other silo out there? It feels less like a conclusion rounding out a series and more like a to-be-continued, lets-leave-things-open ending. Not what I was expecting, and rather disappointing to a series that started off so strong for me. I did like this last story better than the second installment, simply for the return of characters I loved from Wool and the breakneck pace. But the plot lines for this Silo Saga still seem overall a little wobbly to me.

My Grade: C

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