Book Review: Wool, Shift and Dust by Hugh Howey


Wool by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey has created an interesting dystopia and populated it with interesting characters (although I feel he struggles a little with making his antagonists complex rather than one-dimensional).

This is Juliette’s story (as the cover tells you) but it does take a while until we are introduced to her. In the meantime, Howey lets a variety of other characters take the lead for a while and shows what seem like small moments but which turn into large moments upon reflection and later events.

Howey is a terrific writer, easy to read and only occasionally getting obsessed with particular words. Perhaps the one downfall of this novel is that it isn’t its own complete story. Don’t expect to get to the end and have an “Aha!” moment. In order for that to happen I think you will need to read the next two instalments – at least I’m hoping that the next two instalments tie up unanswered questions.

Give it a go. I don’t think anybody would regret taking the time to read this novel, even if this genre isn’t necessarily your normal cup of tea.

4 stars

*First published on Goodreads 13 July 2013


Shift by Hugh Howey

I said this in my review of Wool but if you are looking for a complete story in one book, then this isn’t for you. The second book in Hugh Howey’s series, but a prequel leading up to and incorporating some of the unseen events of Wool, Shift is long but well written and full of interesting characters. Howey’s main themes appear to be freedom, how much we really have of it and whether we all can turn to evil (or at least actions we never thought ourselves capable of) if given the right set of circumstances.

Howey is terrific when it comes to making small details important and writing entire chapters that keep you entranced even when they aren’t about much at all. He is so good at evoking the atmosphere of his dystopian world; I just hope he’s as good at wrapping it all up in Dust, the final book in the series. I’m very eager to read it.

This is a small criticism but the fact that the two main stories are about Silo 1 (where all women are kept in deep freeze waiting to be woken) and Silo 17 (where Jimmy or Solo, as he is also known, spends more than three decades by himself) means the whole book is really lacking in women characters. Having so many strong and interesting women characters in Wool might set people up for a disappointment in Shift in this regard.

If you enjoyed Wool, you will love this, too. If you hated Wool, you will hate this, too. I personally enjoyed it a lot. But I’m leaving my final opinion open until I can read the last book of the trilogy.

4 stars

*First published on Goodreads 7 August 2013


Dust by Hugh Howey

A worthy finish to the trilogy. Hugh Howey has a way of making the smallest moments interesting through his polished writing. I am very much looking forward to whatever he does in the future.

My obvious recommendation is that you shouldn’t bother reading this if you haven’t read the first two because they are almost like one book released in three parts. But if you loved the first two, you will love this as well.

There is a touch of the Battlestar Galactica to the ending (almost an homage, I would say – hope that doesn’t give away too much to anyone). It’s a bleak imagining of a “chosen” race but with an important message, which is of course, “Choose at your peril.”

No guilt, just dystopian pleasure in all of Hugh Howey’s books. Enjoy!

4 stars

*First published on Goodreads 1 January 2014


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