I seem to be in the habit of reading sequels at the moment. Sequels which don't match up to their (brilliant) predecessors. Sadly, Shift by Hugh Howey continues the trend. As with Buzz, it's not so much that Shift is a bad book, it's more that Wool was such a high quality novel, that with my expectations ramped to the max Shift could only disappoint.
Some of my issues with the book are more to do with the history of the trilogy's genesis, and are perhaps therefore a little unfair. As you probably know if you've read this far, Wool is an Internet publishing success story. It was published in small instalments. The physical novel was a group of these bound together. You could sort of tell, but it didn't matter. Shift is much the same. It contains three essentially separate (but linked) stories. Binding them together into a single novel implies a coherence that I would suggest isn't there. The overall narrative is disjointed and it jars as you move from one section to the next. This issue is easily overlooked and mostly forgiveable.
More difficult to see past are, for want of a better term, the world-building issues. Much of the majesty of Wool is that the hermetically sealed silo is a wholly credible dystopian system. I stated in my review of Wool that I found it less convincing when we learn there are more silos and more so when Jules gets outside. These problems are compounded in Shift.
The opening story is effectively a genesis story, and it's an interesting one, but knowing there are fifty silos running alongside one another dilutes the impact of the idea (It's and Alien Vs Aliens phenomenon). Moreover, having the construction of the silos laid out destroys their mystery. It's no longer a huge can randomly buried in the ground with a fascinating society living within. In Wool the silo just 'IS'. Now we learn it's built to a plan. A plan one can't help pick holes in and question whether it could really happen. I can't help thinking, probably not. Suddenly the whole premise looks shaky and the brilliance of what has gone before is undermined.
The whodunit aspects of Wool were exemplary. The claustrophobic setting, taut prose and mysterious society lent weight to what was genuinely innovative storytelling. In Shift the narrative is more mundane. A dystopian vision and its unhappy denizens railing against the machine. The three stories, though different in nature still amount to roughly the same thing: Who watches the watchmen? It's not an unimportant question, but it's a question often asked and one which has been answered better elsewhere.
All this is a rather bleak appraisal of a book that really isn't bad at all. It's impossible to know what I would have made of Shift if I hadn't previously read Wool (it's worth pointing out here that although this is a prequel it cannot be read before Wool without diminishing both books). The story of the Silos' inception is interesting, as is their inter-relationships. More interesting is the idea that some of the architects of the catastrophe may have been so unwittingly. 'How could you not know?' a character asks himself, but it is perhaps human nature to ignore the wider implications of their actions. Obeying orders makes us comfortable. This idea reflects back onto many of history's worst moments.
There is intrigue and skulduggery aplenty. On reading Shift, one is left with the uncomfortable feeling that humanity's default setting is 'destroy'. Characterisation is strong, greatly adding to the novel's readability. Whilst I have my reservations about this book, Howey's creation is still a valuable addition to the dystopian canon. I don't think this book enhances Wool's reputation, but it certainly holds the reader's attention. This is not a perfect follow up, but for those who want to spend more time in Howey's bleak vision of the future, it still has much to recommend.
Normally when you start a second book its with a little trepidation, will it suffer a second book slump? Not so with this one, this has been published in short story form to some acclaim. After reading Wool I really wanted to get my hands on it and was glad it wasn't a year wait between books.
Where Wool drew you into a dark world, a world that explored human interaction, evolution in seclusion, a real 1984 style culture of being monitored and living to a strict code, Shift takes it to the next level. A prequel that shows how it all began, running in a time slip style showing Before the end, the creation of the Silo's, right through to its parallel plot running through the collapses and with flick backs to Wool and the voice on the end of the headset.
I thought this book was so well paced and structured, I was gripped from page one, I was yearning for those overlaps, where Shift meets Wool, to how characters became what they were and why.
Solo's character is a wonderful portrayal of a young man in isolation, but without any level of depressing thought, just survival, you really root for him all the way through, even though you know what happens to him.
Donald though is a clear favourite, a man who thinks he is serving his country, a man who is manipulated from the start, a man who sympathises and understands eventually what is happening and how the people in the Silos have been tricked, even though they do not know it. A man who maybe going mad, a man who may just be seeing the whole picture and becoming the only sane man left. It's for you to judge.
Very Highly recommended
Shift is a prequel - don't read it unless you have already read Wool.
Shift sets the scene that we discover in Wool. We find out why people are living in silos, we find out a little bit about how the silos operate and what the game plan might be. And most of all, we discover a lift. That's right, after all the stairs in Wool, we find a perfectly functional lift allowing easy access between floors. In Silo 1.
Unlike the early, claustrophobic scenes in Wool, we find narrative switching between silos; we find backstories and time shifts. We find an outside world, albeit one in far history. Some of the key questions - dare one say problems - raised by readers of Wool are addressed in this prequel. But, as prequels often can, Shift tends towards slaying some of the heros of the original work. We see Juliette and Jimmy playing out pre-determined roles; their motives seem somehow less pure and idealistic. They are tainted.
The action in Shift switches between three storylines - a newly elected Congressman (Donald) who finds himself in Silo 1; a man called Mission who starts to think independently in Silo 18; and Jimmy in Silo 17 whom we know from Wool. Of these stories, Donald and Jimmy work well. Mission feels like filler; he has no personality and the action around him feels contrived. This is a pity; the opening scenes in Silo 18 in Wool (the Holston storyline) were powerful and deserved a better backstory.
Nevertheless, Shift is well written and mostly pretty taut. It may be long but it holds the reader's interest and the pages keep turning.
As prequels sometimes do, Shift lacks a decent ending. The ending is simply the original book - which might have been sufficient on its own without beginning or end, but the creation of a beginning necessitates the creation of an end. Fortunately that - in the form of Dust - has recently been released...
This is the second book in the Wool trilogy. I first read Wool (Wool Trilogy 1) about a year ago, but it is only now that I have got around to reading this, the second book. Although officially labelled as a prequel this is more than that, this also brings us back to the first book, so if you still haven't read the first book you could start here.
At last we find out how the silos came to be built, and the reasoning behind them. This book, although detailing other characters and situations does have Donald Keene, a newly elected congressman as the main character. Donald, along with others, is given a job to do by Senator Thurman, which is all a bit hush-hush. And so our story sets off with secrets and manipulations. People being kept in the dark and assigned pieces of an overall plan, this is Government at work. As over the centuries Donald starts to piece the grand plan together he finds that all the time things are being withheld or obscured. Whilst this is going on though, not all is well in the silos, as destruction and chaos rears its head from time to time.
As I stated earlier, it is some time since I read Wool, but you soon find yourself back into this world and feel like you have never left. On the cover of my book it says 'The next Hunger Games' but I think that perhaps the next Matrix would be more apt.
With twists and turns this book is just as readable as the first as once again we find ourselves reading about the possible outcome for mankind. This edition also has a book group guide in the back for those who are interested. This is another great instalment in the Wool trilogy.
The Shift Omnibus is the second volume of the Silo series and encompasses a collection of the three books in the Shift series by American author, Hugh Howey.
First Shift – Legacy is the first book in the Shift series by American author, Hugh Howey. This prequel to the Wool series describes the events that lead to the World Order that exists in the Wool books. It switches between two time periods: the early twenty-second century in the control centre for the Silos, Silo 1; and the mid twenty-first century, in Washington DC and Georgia. In Silo 1, Troy is woken from his decades of “long sleep” to find himself titular head of all the Silos, a job for which he feels less than prepared. The medication that erases his traumatic memories and numbs his reactions to stressful events is not entirely effective, and he eventually discovers some awful truths. In Washington DC, newly-minted Georgia congressman, Donald Keene finds himself using his architectural skills for a project championed by Senator Paul Thurman: an underground silo to be used as a refuge for workers at a nuclear waste dump site. There is much secrecy surrounding the project: his college friend, Mick Webb is part of it, as is the Senator’s daughter, Donald’s ex-girlfriend Anna, but exchange of information is very limited. When the facility finally opens, some three years later, Donald discovers he was an integral part of something much bigger and more fearsome than he ever imagined. While there is less “action” in this book than the Wool books, Howey keeps it interesting by gradually feeding the reader tidbits of information to flesh out the picture. His characters and dialogue are credible and he includes a handy time-line at the end of each book. Readers will be eager to find out what happens in the next book, Second Shift – Order.
Second Shift – Order is the second book in the Shift series by American author, Hugh Howey. This second part of the prequel to the Wool series continues with the events that lead to the World Order that exists in the Wool books. It is set in the early twenty-third century and switches between two locations: Silo 1 and Silo 18. In Silo 1, Donald is woken from one hundred years of being frozen for his second shift awake, although, he discovers, not for his usual duties. As he helps Thurman and Anna to understand the cause of the Uprisings in the Silos, he is also distressed by facts he uncovers about his wife, Helen. Amongst the rising unrest in Silo 18, porter Mission Jones takes a message from his beloved elderly schoolteacher, Miss Crowe to his good friend, Rodny, who is shadowing in IT, to find himself on a mission of a very different kind. Again, Howey’s characters have depth and appeal, and the plot is sufficiently intriguing to have the reader seeking out the final part of this prequel, Third Shift – Pact.
Third Shift – Pact is the third book in the Shift series by American author, Hugh Howey. This third part of the prequel to the Wool series continues with the events that lead to the World Order that exists in the Wool books. This book has two narrative strands: Silo 1 in the mid-twenty-fourth century, and Silo 17 in the early to mid-twenty-fourth century. In Silo 1, Donald is surprised to be woken by workers who believe he is Thurman; he is needed because of problems with Silo 18 that stem from Jules’ refusal to clean. But he soon realises that those in power are not what they seem: “He used to think of these people as shrinks, that they were here to keep others sane. Now he knew that they were in charge of the insanity.” As he accesses files to learn the background information on Jules, on Silo 17 and Silo 40, he also uncovers yet more shocking truths, truths that cause him to take some drastic action. The narrative in Silo 17 starts with the Great Loud, when Jimmy Parker, son of IT shadow, Russ Parker, is just sixteen and follows his life through the years to Jules’ arrival at the Silo. Young Jimmy has had to face some horrific events in order to survive, and learned much from the books of The Order and The Legacy during his journey. Once again, Howey creates characters that the reader can identify with, and draws parallels between the political world of old with its titular head and its power brokers, and the one created in the Silos. “Donald was reminded of how each silo has a mayor for shaking hands and keeping up appearances, just as the world of before had presidents who came and went. Meanwhile, it was the men in the shadows who wielded the true power, those whose terms had no limits.” Howey also leaves just enough untold to intrigue the reader to seek out the final instalment of the Silo series, Dust. An excellent read.
"Shift" by Hugh Howey although is advertised as sequel to author's dystopian novel "Wool" it's actually its prequel.
It was also written as omnibus that consists of three shorter novels and continue story about post apocalyptic world due to catastrophe caused by humans.
Although it's prequel I suggest reading it after the original book because that way reader will gradually get to know this futuristic world in the manner the author had imagined it.
While "Silo" introduced readers to underground Silo where remained human survivors live, one safe shelter that is also sort of prison due to people inability to exit to the outer toxic world.
"Shift" will describe things that caused these catastrophic consequences for our world and it's predecessor for time and events portrayed in "Wool".
And this story is well-written and told in a great way by author, giving information not only about aftermath but the causes as well of this horrible fate that that has befallen the Earth.
Its causes that can be found in the human desire for self-destruction due to powerful weapons and hostile politics that opposed the human desire to survive thus are making such illogical contrast.
Same as first novel, this SF dystopian novel is also well-written piece and exciting read that is easily read until last of its pages.
And if you read first novel, you will enjoying connecting the puzzle pieces of the past that will create a bleak human future described in "Wool".
Unfortunately the only drawback comparing to previously released novel are its characters that are a bit poorer characterized and with whose lives and destinies for reader is more difficult to identify.
Nevertheless, "Shift" is still an exciting and enjoyable piece that together with first book from series can be recommended for fans of post apocalyptic literature and science fiction in general.
And if you want to completely enjoy this experience, I suggest you to first read "Wool" for two reasons: that is the best one in the series and that way you'll be able to get fully immersed in the exciting world of Silo...
This is the second book in the trilogy (Wool, Shift, Dust) which begins as a prequel and then brings the action up to speed with where we were in Wool.
The story of the life being lived in the silos is explored right from the beginning; how it occurred, who was behind it, and what the ambitions of these people have led to. The story of Donald, brought without his knowledge into a hugely dangerous game is explored in the near-present time of 2049, and we see interspersed in the first part of the book the lives of those living the `first shift' of 2110 in Silo 1. The `second shift' of 2212 sees the Great Uprising in Silo 18, which we read of in Wool, and in the `third shift' of 2345, we see Silo 1 attempting to control what is happening in Silo 17 and Silo 18, again action we read of in Wool.
Much that was unclear in Wool becomes clearer in Shift - we see the rationale behind the silos and their installation, the reasoning behind keeping people unaware of their history and the purpose of their existence, and we see a lot of action from Silo 1 - the control Silo, where those in the know are keeping an overview of all the other Silos. This is a great way to see what happens over these years, and we see the shift in perspectives of those in the Silos over time, even as the Silo 1 controllers attempt to stick to the Order and the Pact. The hierarchical structure, even in the Silos is clear - where the other Silos have only stairs for internal access anyway, Silo 1 has elevators. Silo 1 is well-stock, well-manned, and has all the equipment that they are likely to need to enforce their own vision of a future that nobody else knows about.
I can't wait to see how the next part of this story goes; now that we have caught up with the events from the end of Wool, and we see in Shift how they came about, the action and tension is really ramped up for a great finale to the story. This is great sci-fi/apocalyptic writing; this story is totally enthralling.
After finishing Wool earlier this year, I couldn't read Shift quickly enough. A follow up to Wool, and the middle novel of a trilogy, it is actually a prequel. Shift contains, within three stories now republished in one, the origin story of the silos. We learn about the construction of these claustrophobic repositories of humanity, their reason for existence, the people who populate them or seek to destroy them, and we follow the story of one of the most memorable characters of Wool. As the years pass by in shifts we catch up with this earlier novel and, by the time we do, the twists and shocks are piling up on one another, like the levels that stack one upon other through the buried silos. What all this means is that you mustn't read Shift until you've read Wool.
I loved Shift, perhaps even more than Wool. I was completely fascinated by the opening third. The normality of life in the United States in the 21st century, with Donald Keene worrying about his wife who in turn is worried about his working relationship with an ex-girlfriend, contrasts brutally with the reasons for the silos' construction and then the scenes set within the silos themselves, many years later, when the horror has been realised.I especially enjoyed the combination of this metallic, tubular and noisy world with the human stories. I was engrossed by the ways in which the apocalyptic vision of part 1 became the dystopian world of parts 2 and 3.
Reading Wool first is essential. The context is necessary in order to appreciate our increasing understanding of the silos and the people who created them. The clues were there in Wool but now we meet the people on the other side of the radio conversations. We learn that Juliette's actions in Wool have history behind them and it is clear that they won't end here. The strengths of Wool continue in Shift. The claustrophobia of the silos has even increased, now that we know what's outside. The structure of Wool and Shift are fragmented, purposefully so. I did have some trouble remembering what happened in which silo but this didn't affect my read.
Shift is extremely difficult to put down. The wait until the final part of the trilogy - Dust - in October, will seem long. I'm grateful for my review copy.
on 14 October 2013
I don't normally like prequels (they just don't work for me for some reason) but have to say this one does. Sets out a lot of the background to Wool and slowly brings in some of the characters from Wool.
As with Wool, a gripping read.
Word of warning, don't be tempted to read this before Wool, even though the events happen before those in Wool, I don't think it would really make sense unless you read wool first (which if you haven't you really should :-) )
This is the second book in the Wool trilogy and is a prequel to the first book, Wool. Despite being a prequel, it is best read after Wool and not before. It fills in the back story about how the silos came to be built, how the entire operation is run and sheds light on the discovery that Juliet made in the first book. Ultimately it brings us up to the conclusion of the first book.
I am in awe of the world that Howey has created and the thought that he's put into how it operates. I was also fascinated to learn the back story about how the silos came to exist, which is the first third of the book (Wool #6). However the strong beginning starts to lose steam as the book continues. Our lead protagonist, Donald, is simply not that interesting nor likeable and the book seems to get bogged down in side plots that are of marginal importance. I found myself having no real desire to pick this book up and it took quite a long time for me to read it - it's not hard going, but it's slow going.
I still look forward to reading part three and finding out how everything will come together, but I think it's a shame that this book doesn't justify its existence in any way other than filling in a lot of back story. As a story in its own right, it didn't work for me.