Howey masterfully created a barren, post apocalyptic world where the remnants of the human population can only live underground in carefully designed silos. These people are strictly governed by the Order and the majority is kept in the dark about the Legacy-the memories from the time before the world was destroyed.
WOOL tells the story of the people in Silo 18. From time to time, residents begin to question what is really outside and suspect a conspiracy to keep them in their silo. If gone unchecked, these ideas quickly lead to civil unrest. Uprisings soon follow. Residents must watch what they say or they could ended up being sent to clean. This means they are booted out of the silo armed with industrial strength wool with the expectation that they will clean the lenses that give those on the inside a picture of that wasted outdoor landscape. Up until now, every cleaner has done their duty then scrambled a short distance away from the silo, crumpled, and died in a heap in plain view of the cameras. A lesson for those still safely locked inside. Then Juliette is sent out, and simply walks away. Without bothering to clean, she disappears over the hill and out of sight. This is the lynch pin that finally breaks an already faltering society.
Shift takes the reader back in time to when the world was still green and had breathable air. A sick plot is afoot disguised as politicians doing what they do best. No one realizes what is really being built at the new nuclear waste site until it is much too late. Howey takes the reader through the inception of the silos, the destruction of the world, and the complete and calculated ruin of one man’s life.
Half of this book takes place in Silo 1, command central of all the silos. Rather than living their lives according to natural biological rhythms, male Silo 1 residents are awake six months at a time to work a shift. The rest of the time they are frozen only to be woken for their next shift. Over time this leads to the breakdown of many minds. During his first shift, Donald begins to have slivers of memories from a different time. Over the course of his shifts, he witnesses the fall of several silos and his questions only grow. The deeper he digs, the nastier the answers.
Over in Silo 17, a teenager is hidden in a secret chamber by his father to protect him from the current, deadly uprising. Jimmy is spared from the mass suicide that takes the lives of almost all the residents, but he is doomed to live alone hiding from pockets of remaining people who have gone feral. The other half of Shift is Jimmy’s story.
The two threads are tied together when Juliette from Silo 18 escapes and discovers all this time they have not been alone. And now, we all wait for Howey’s final installment in this saga: Dust
On a side note, my six-year-old has started calling Hugh Howey my boyfriend because I have been talking about him A LOT over the last several months. I discovered WOOL when he was the featured author on Create Space. I geeked out when he appeared on the cover of Writer’s Digest. Not only am I enamored with his writing, I am inspired by his success in self-publishing. I can only hope to be a fraction of the awesome that Howey embodies.