Some books just become your best friend. I have a few best friends and I continue to read them over and over again.
I read Wool last year and decided to listen to Shift about a month ago. I love reading reviews on the books before purchasing to see what others say about it. With that said I already knew that the characters in Wool were not in Shift. I still loved the book. Shift starts to give you some answers (not all answers, but some) and a little history of the Silos. I surprisingly enjoyed the story and the performance was wonderfully done.
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
You'll spend the entire book waiting for our idiot protagonist to figure out what we, the audience already know before picking up the book. Does that sound fun to you?
The story isn't boring, exactly... it's just unnecessary. Wool already told us everything we needed to know about the Silos. The backstory answers some questions... but this all could have been done in a more elegant way... preferably in a single chapter instead of this slow, useless tome.
For the most part the story held my attention, and had it had a satisfying ending, or had the it progressed the plot from Wool in any way I probably could have forgiven the insane redundancies. But it didn't do those things.
I already own Dust, so I'll see this story out to its conclusion, but had I not purchased it on sale, I certainly would have called it quits right now.
I listened to this book on 3x speed, and it was still too long. I don't recommend it to anyone who isn't totally in love with hearing about life in the Silos.
The minute I finished 'Wool' (Silo Saga #1) I snatched up 'Shift.' 'Wool' left a huge cliffhanger and I had to know what happened next. That is when I realized 'Shift' is the story of how the Silo came about. It was the answer to what caused the people in the Silo to live underground and what catastrophe had destroyed the topside of the earth. I was a bit disappointed but still very interested. I finished a fourth of the book before I realized I was forcing myself to read it. I simply wasn't in the frame of mind. I put it on my 'to-be-continued' shelf until I was ready to enjoy it instead of slog through it.
Browsing audible I found that Tim Gerard Reynolds narrated the book. He's a fantastic narrator, so I got this version at a considerably cheaper rate, due to whispersync, as I already had the kindle version. I started listening to 'Shift' a little while ago. I still had difficulty connecting to this book. The writing is not to fault. Howey did a wonderful job, and Tim Gerard Reynolds narrated it very well.
'Shift' is set in Washington D.C. We follow Donald, a newly appointed Senator for Georgia. He has a strong connection to powerful senior Senator Thurman, whom he grew up with. We find out that Donald was gifted the election by Thurman. Donald would not have won on his own and Thurman has his own agenda for him. Donald, his fellow friend and junior Senator Mitch, and several other new Georgia appointees are tasked to work on Thurman's secret legacy project. Very little information is given. Each person only knows about their section of it. Donald's true task is not to represent Georgia, he still has to do that of course, but he is to utilize his architectural skills, taking a design he created in College, and adapt it to be built underground. He is to develop the Silo.
'Shift' details the Silo project and switches in between two periods of time: the time the Silo Project was built, and the time after where Donald and Thurman are woken from a cryogenic freeze periodically to deal with problems arising in the Silo.
The story does not really have any redeeming characters. You have two women in Donald's life who are flat and one-dimensional. Helen, his wife, who lives in Georgia. You never learn much about her other than Donald loves her, she is jealous of Anna, she is a sounding board, and she takes care of their dog. Anna, is a past girlfriend of Donald's and is Thurman's daughter. They still have attraction to one another, and Donald constructs boundaries as Anna finds ways to tear them down. She is the IT intelligence behind the Silo project. We are supposed to feel for and like Donald, but I couldn't help but be irritated at his naiveté. He worked in Washington and grew up with Thurman as a child. It was hard for me to believe he hadn't developed some cynicism. The revelations should not have been so hard for him to figure out.
There is value in this book, but you will not be getting your answers to the cliffhanger in 'Wool.' You will get a build up to it at the very end but expect that the cliffhanger from the first book won't be answered till the third. 'Shift' is interesting , you get answers to why the Silo's were developed. I would classify it more as political thriller than dystopian fiction. I am interested enough to move to the third, but I wasn't nearly as excited or drawn into this book as 'Wool.'
Great book, Hugh is a talented writer and I'm excited to read more from him. But, for pete's sake, I've never been so acutely aware of the overuse of a single word in an audio-book. Every time the reader, Reynolds, would come to the world 'palm' he would always pronounce it in some weird english-to-american crossover pronunciation as 'pam' and this wasn't a sparse occurrence either. I found myself starting to wonder if Hugh Howey set out to write this sequel with the intention of seeing how many times he could cram the word 'palm' into a single book. It bugged me enough to were I almost couldn't even finish the book. However, I still gave Reynolds 4 stars because the rest of his performance is in fact excellent, but I can't be the only one who noticed this.
I was so looking forward to this recording. I read Wool Omnibus, which is the first part of the saga in print, because listeners had a poor opinion of that reader. I found it compelling and devoured hundreds of pages in a few days. This recording has Tim Reynolds, who I've loved in other books, so I figured this would be even better. I was disappointed in both the book and its narration;
In contrast to Wool, which takes place over a few weeks, this one takes place over centuries - and it feels like it. There's way too much detail of various characters endlessly enduring in grim environments. There's a plot in the middle that I think was totally unnecessary, apparently to give an idea about the Uprisings mentioned elsewhere. Finally at the very end, the story starts to overlap with the first part of the saga, but by then my interest had waned considerably.
A strong feature of Wool was the opportunity for the reader to figure out what is going on. This one tries to explain it, starting in the 21st century, and I felt that made it less believable. Again there are way too many details of ordinary life in the near future, trying to show how what we have now could lead to the silo world. The whole construction and rationale just doesn't make much sense. Leaving some mystery would have been better.
Some people felt the characters in Wool were flat, but I found them interesting and cared about what happened to them. In Shift, the characters are mostly one-dimensional and mostly passive. My overall feeling listening to this was depression. I had to avoid listening to it before bedtime. Sure, it's a dystopia but the characters could have some human connection and some agency, there's very little of either.
As I said ,I loved Tim Reynolds reading the works of Michael J Sullivan, where he has a mainly English accent. In this one, he tried to sound American and sometimes just sounded weird. For instance, he pronounced "palm" as "pam". You'd be amazed how often that word came up and it jarred me every time. He did a decent job with the various characters but Howey didn't give him a lot to work with.
I rarely regret the hours spent listening to an audiobook, even if it's not the greatest, but this time I did. I will probably read the 3rd installment in print so that if it drags I can skim through it.
As the second omnibus to the 3 book series, this book quickly grabs your attention and brings new light and perspective to everything you thought you had figured out in "Wool". I highly recommend this entire series to anyone, not just dystopian survival readers!
this was a great book that I recommended to any sci-fi fan. the narration is spectacular and the characters are very relatable. definitely worth picking up