Review of 'Shift'

Shift by Hugh Howey
2nd book in the 'Silo' series

shift.jpg “Shift” takes us to how the underground silos of the first book (“Wool”) were created, showing the other side of the story. We follow young congressman Donald Keene as he is tasked by senator Thurman with designing an underground silo that would house many thousands. As he works on the plans he is only aware of the true meaning of his work when they are eventually unveiled and the world ends. The initial section “First Shift: Legacy” leads us up to disaster while the second “Second Shift: Order” takes us 100 years after the end of the world where Donald is woken up for his first shift in silo 1. In silo 18 we follow the story of a young courier “Mission” who is caught up in a bloody revolution. In the final section “Third Shift: Pact” Donald again awakes to discover he is now in a position of authority and he begins to discover the secret behind the silos while we also meet Jimmy a lone survivor of an uprising in silo 17.

So much of this book is based on what the reader has learned in the first book (Wool) that to read this by itself would be more than a bit confusing. Here we begin to understand the circumstances behind the construction of the underground cities and the disaster that has befallen the earth. As in the first novel, the characters here are well drawn out and very human, reacting to the bizarre situation they find themselves in. As the book goes on we get bang up to date with the events of the first novel but just from the perspective of silo 1 who control all of the others. There still remain a number of mysteries that, here's hoping, will be resolved in the final book of the trilogy, “Dust”.

“Shift” does tend to draw out the story quite a bit with the plot only slightly progressing through the short chapters that tend to alternate between silo 1 and the inhabitants of the other silos. It is perhaps a perspective of the characters themselves that we feel there are brief interruptions of extreme horror and action followed by years (or even decades) of not a lot happening. It is the mundane here that the story largely focuses as it is assumed the reader does not need to be reminded too much of the physical reality of the silos themselves (here's hoping you remember before picking this one up). Still, this second chapter is very readable (just like the first) though a bit over-long.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-10-04

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Arrow Books

Publication Date: 2013

ISBN: 9780099580478

Other reviewed books in the 'Silo' series: