Book Review: ‘The Silo Trilogy’

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By Hedge

I’m a fan of a good dystopia. I love apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic media from films like Mad Max, and the recent, truly stunning These Final Hours, to novels like 1984 and The Hunger Games, video games like Fallout, and that which inspired it Wasteland, and even television series like the relatively weak, yet still oddly compelling The 100. The idea of life after humans, after society, after some mass extinction the likes of which the Earth had suffered through dozens of times in the past entices me to no end.

Knowing this genre-lust, and knowing I was almost finished with my own post-apocalyptic dystopia at the time, a friend recommended I read Wool, by Hugh Howey. Original self-published, I’d not heard of it but the concept intrigued me; a society underground, living their entire lives in a fallout shelter, known as the Silo, following some unnamed catastrophy. I grabbed the first book on Kindle. I couldn’t put it down.

Wool tells the story, first, of Holston, a sheriff in the Silo, the last remaining vestige of a society long since destroyed. He is about to do the forbidden. He is about to go outside. What starts here with this simple concept, spirals into something much grander over the course of the three novels. Originally written as short, self contained novellas, the plot of these books follows the trials and lives of multiple characters as they struggle to come to terms with the truth of their existence.

Shift continues this story, but focuses on new characters in the same world. Dust then concludes the trilogy, wrapping the narrative together, answering most questions yet leaving some to be mulled over by the reader. It’s a gripping tale. Not without it’s faults, but never the less one I am incredibly satisfied having read.

To break it down, as I’m writing about a trilogy of books and not one novel, consider the following.

Wool, the first in the series is a thoroughly gripping tale, one I could hardly put down. It’s well written, snappy, filled with intricacies and nuance. The characters are real, fully fleshed out people and with the reader given the multiple viewpoints of various characters during the narrative, you get a real, and whole sense of how the Silo operates.

Shift, for me, was a revelation. It turns the world you’ve come to know upside down, and delves deeply into the creation of the Silo itself. It’s sometimes a little choppy; multiple time periods and viewpoint characters can sometimes lead to confusion and it does, at least near the finale, feel like the middle book in a trilogy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, not at this stage when the third book is released.

I’m not sure how I’d have felt having ended Shift though, without the capacity to begin
 right away.

Dust is, quite simply, the perfect conclusion. It brings together all the characters you’ve grown to love, and the ones you hate with venom, exposes the truths about the world in which these people live, and brings it all to a satisfying close while leaving room for examination, thought, and discussion. I finished it in three days. It rarely left my hands.

This trilogy has gone into my list of favourites right away. Honestly, I think Howey could easily write more in this world, and I would devour every word.

The series is available in physical and ebook form, and is definitely worth your time.