Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dust - Hugh Howey

It's no secret that I've become obsessed with Hugh Howey's Silo trilogy this summer.  After reading Wool in June at a coworker's suggestion, I was hooked.  I finished Shift at the start of this month.  In a perfectly timed coincidence, the final book, Dust, was released on my birthday.  Thanks for the awesome birthday present, Hugh Howey.  What a thoughtful author, am I right?

Despite having finished Shift not even two weeks previously, I did struggle getting into the beginning of Dust.  The story picks up at the simultaneous ends of Wool and Shift.  The story in Dust moves consistently between Silos 18, 17, and 1 as the isolated world get closer and closer to converging.  Warning: Spoilers Ahead

There were quite a few moments in Dust when Howey had me convinced the story had to be coming to a climax.  I simply could not understand how he had hundreds of pages left.  And yet, he also gave moments where I was sure the story could not end for ages yet.  With 50 or 60 pages left, I still had no idea how he would close out the trilogy.

To give a brief overview (careful, here's where the spoilers are!), Juliette opens the story by finding that elusive digging machine in Silo 18.  She immediately gets it going in the direction of Silo 17 to rescue Solo and kids.  While Mechanical workers dig, she heads outside to take some air and soil samples.  Meanwhile, in Silo 1, Donald and Charlotte continue their covert operation and are, unsurprisingly, found out when Thurman makes a reappearance.  The man who brought down the world finds out some of what's happening in Silo 18 and makes the decision to shut it down. Juliette and few hundred people escape through the tunnel to Silo 17.

The moment that Silo 18 was exterminated was easily the most shocking moment of the book for me.  I simply could not believe that Howey had actually killed the thousands residing there, including Lukas.  Yet, he did.  Suddenly, the bright future for the joined silos becomes a race to figure out a way out.  There simply is not a way to sustain that many people with so few supplies.

In the end, they do plan an escape to the outside.  Juliette figures out that the poison in the air is actually coming from the supposed argon sent out with cleaners.  She theorizes that the air further away from the silos will be fine.  Her theory is supported by Donald and Charlotte's brief view of a colorful world via drone.  The Silo 17 residents head outside in modified cleaning suits. In Silo 1, Donald and Charlotte recruit a night guard to their cause and Donald plots to blow up the silo, thus eliminating the eventual destruction of all silos but 1.  He convinces Charlotte to escape outside while he executes his plan.  Charlotte eventually meets up with Juliette and crew just as they discover clean air, green grass, and a stockpile of supplies.  Life on Earth will go on.

Howey knew he could have written much more in this story.  He gives enough information to make the end very satisfying and then, as if to say, "This really is the end" he gives a brief Author's Note.  In it, he writes,
"This is not the end, of course.  Every story we read, every film we watch, continues on in our imaginations if we allow it.  Characters live another day.  They grow old and die.  New ones are born.  Challenges crop up and are dealt with.  There is sadness, joy, triumph, and failure.  Where a story ends is nothing more than a snapshot in time, a brief flash of emotion, a pause.  How and if it continues is up to us....What do you see?"
The beauty of this statement struck me.  Any good novel should leave you wanting more.  Yet, if the author spells out every detail, it takes some of the magic away.  Howey's sentiments reminded me a bit of how writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse spoke of the "LOST" finale a few years back.  The did not answer all the questions because they wanted to leave room for discussion and imagination.  Their decision proved highly controversial, but I have always respected it.  Stories are about characters, and they live on in our mind.

I have no doubt that Howey has given us the next great dystopian series.  He is quickly gaining traction.  At work, I heard that his alma mater gave him the cover and a 16-page spread in their alumni magazine (I work in the department that publishes our alumni magazine, so we care about that kind of thing.).  I also learned that, in further proof of his brilliance, Howey made a deal for print versions of his books, but kept all rights to the digital versions.  Because of that, he's making huge profits from the sales of the Silo series.  He apparently made something crazy like a half million in a month just from those digital sales.  Howey has already sold film rights for Wool and Ridley Scott is rumored to be directing.  The buzz is growing; I am happy to help.

I simply cannot say it enough.  You must read these books.  If you enjoy good characters, fast-paced plots, suspense and mystery, and, above all, fantastic writing, you will enjoy these books. I simply do not know what else to say.  This series kept me riveted throughout and left me satisfied at its end - no easy task.  Howey has earned my highest recommendation.  Now stop reading this and go get a copy of his work!

Now that I've binged on and finished yet another dystopian series, what do you recommend to hold me over to the release of Allegiant in October?

Pages: 464
Date Completed: August 20, 2013

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