Shift by Hugh Howey

May 14, 2013 Reviews 2 ★★★★★

  • Date published: 25th April 2012
  • Publisher: Random House (Century)
  • Format: Paperback, 569 pages
  • Series: Wool, Books 6 – 8 (Omnibus)
  • ISBN 13: 9781780891217 ISBN 10: 1780891210
  • Categories: Fantasy – Post Apocalyptic Dystopian
  • Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: provided for review by the publisher

In a future less than fifty years away, the world is still as we know it.

Time continues to tick by. The truth is that it is ticking away.

A powerful few know what lies ahead. They are preparing for it. They are trying to protect us.

They are setting us on a path from which we can never return.

Shift is the story of a newly elected Congressman, Donald Keene, who unwittingly becomes embroiled in a mad plan to save the world. It tells us how the silos described in WOOL came to be, the history of World Order Operation Fifty, and the place of Silo 1 in the scheme of things. This omnibus contains the three Shift books – the first tells of the construction of the silos, the second describes the gradual collapse of some of the silos and the madness that grips the people living inside them, and the third chronicles the events in WOOL, and the collapse of Silo 18, from the point of view of Silo 1.

“At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.”

The first book, First Shift – Legacy is my favourite. It alternates between the viewpoints of Congressmen Donald Keene in 2049, and Troy, a man who is woken from cryogenic sleep inside a silo in 2110. As Donny overseas the design of a nuclear waste disposal site and housing for its workers in case of emergency, he discovers that he has been lied to. The true purpose of this project has been kept from him. In the future, Troy struggles to remember the truths doctors have made him forget, slowly piecing together the past and uncovering the awful truth behind the silos.

It’s gripping and exciting, because readers know the realities that are hidden from the two men, and I think it’s thrilling to witness them work towards it. I particularly like Donald, I think he makes a great protagonist and I empathized with him – he’s idealistic and wants to help his fellow man, but ends up aiding in the heinous plan. The path to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

In the second book, Second Shift – Order, follows Mission Jones, who works as a porter in Silo 18. His grandfather died in the uprising of ’78, and he and his friends are part of another revolution. Some of the characters from First Shift are woken up again, to deal with the unrest that threatens the silo’s survival. I liked Mission and admired his bravery and willingness to help others. I knew how this story ends, but I was still saddened and outraged when it happened. Again, it’s enlightening to witness the uprising from within the silo, and from outside, through the eyes of those who oversee the whole project and are looking at the bigger picture.

The third book, Third Shift – Pact, is the most interesting since it throws light onto the collapse of Silo 17 and continues the story of Silo 1, eventually showing us the events of WOOL from inside Silo 1. I think it’s a clever way to round off the SHIFT saga, almost bringing the story around full circle and revealing another layer to the conspiracy.

I love that the prequel books have overlapped WOOL, and they have set up the next saga, DUST, superbly. I really liked the SHIFT books and think they are a perfect complement to the original WOOL series. I recommend this saga to fans of WOOL because of the new perspectives it offers and the way it clears up a lot of the mystery in the first series.

In other news, I know now why the previous omnibus is called WOOL – it stands for World Order Operation Fifty (L is the Roman numeral for 50). Clever!

2 Responses to “Shift by Hugh Howey”

  1. KateB

    I really enjoyed Wool and have been curious as to what fans of it thought of Shift. Sounds like one I’ll have to check out. 🙂

    • speculatef

      Yes, do 🙂 I think it would be helpful to read it before the Dust novels are released anyway, and it’s great to see the other side of the story – what was in the minds of the people who built the silos.

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