We live across the thousand dunes with grit in our teeth and sand in our homes. No one will come for us. No one will save us. This is our life, diving for remnants of the old world so that we may build what the wind destroys. No one is looking down on us. Those constellations in the night sky? Those are the backs of gods we see.
©2014 Hugh Howey (P)2014 Hugh Howey
I almost gave up on this book and asked for a return credit but I kept listening and in the end I'm glad I did. The first half of the book was confusing and irritating because of the constant introduction of a huge cast of characters and the constant jumping around between time periods and characters. I had a hard time keeping track of everyone and ended up starting over several times just to figure out who the characters were. Some books you can let the words flow through one ear and out the other and you still know what's going on. Not so with Sand. One must pay attention to everything. About halfway through the story all of the pieces came together and I was totally hooked. This was my first Hugh Howey book and I am going to try another.
It's value neutral, no time lost and a little bit of a gain.
Sand doesn't stand up to Howie's first series of books (Wool, Shift, Dust). The world building and character development are lacking compared to the riveting Silo world of Wool, which was enjoyable and addictive. You cared about the characters in Wool even if the lines between good folks and bad eggs were a bit simplistic. In this book, more of the same of that but without the same general development and attention to detail. The people and the world of Sand just exist (despite all the action) and are not as compelling.
Slight spoiler as example:
The glaring treatment of Mom as Dystopian prostitute is just hammered home (no pun intended) every time the character was in the scene or beyond. Her children, near and far, do not have an interaction with a friend or stranger without their mom's (survive or perish) profession being thrown in their face as a slut-shaming joke. I mean it, every time. It's lazy, clumsy, and somewhat awkward until it becomes distractingly annoying.
While I've never found Howey to be sophisticated in his handling of adult relationships or sex in general, I thought he was better than this.
She did a great job. Howey writes straightforwardly and without flourish (or variety) and Chilton bought the story to life and made it what I think would be a better listen than read. I did listen at 1.25 narration speed but it was not due to the narrator (it worked well at both speeds) but the writing.
I kept thinking of Kevin Costner in Postman and Water World even though the only middle-aged man who is a 'would be' a main character is but a distant memory to the family in Sand. This not a good sign. I'd much rather see Wool as a mini-series!
I'm on the fence about the rest of series, even though the story picked up at the end with some of the most thoughtful writing and the only real moments of intrigue in the book. Like the best of Howey's characters though, I do have hope...
Howey has served up a novel rendition of the post-apocalyptic genre. With much of the explanation for the climatic and geologic conditions left up to listener's imagination, a future world that is little more than a giant sandbox is the starting point. Geographically, the story is set in Colorado which has basically become a desert overlying our distant past. The sparse barely survives by "sand-diving" in an analogous manner to scuba diving hunting for the buried treasure from an ancient civilization. The story revolves around one family with a father gone missing, a mother forced into prostitution to support her family and the children of varying ages, most of whom have gone into diving to make ends meet. Their journey concerns the dawning recognition that there is more to the world than their small patch of sand.
Howey presents credible scenarios where "sand-diving" is accomplished by special dive suits and static electrical charges to vibrate the sand such that movement similar to swimming can be attempted. Deep dives runs into pressure issues analogous to ocean diving. While the story is self contained, Howey has clearly created a future that offers much expansion potential with a great mix of characters.
The narration is quite well done with a great range of voices and pacing that matches the mood and tone of the tale.
This latest book by Hugh Howey is well-written, and extremely well-narrated. Karen Chilton's voice matches the landscape of heat and sand, I honestly could not imagine a better narration. As far as the story, words don't describe how well Hugh Howey makes the people and environment so real you feel you are there. I LOVED this book.
The Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey was a hit on audiobook. I have not had the pleasure to read Howey's WOOL series, so for me this was a first look. I thought his take on the dystopian world was stunningly real and his portrayal of life in this world, both haunting and thrilling at the same time. This is a great audiobook pick with narration by Karen Chilton whose clipped and mature voice gives depth to the story.
Review: The world of Sand is far in the future in a world covered in Sand and a desert landscape. The residents of the area make a living by diving into the sand, digging for treasures and artifacts of the world before, where the buildings touched the sky and food came in cans. The world Hugh Howey created was richly portrayed, each description of the world made it more real, until finally, I could image living in a world where houses were sinking into the sand slowly and people were afraid of what lived over the dunes.
The beginning of the tale covered the concept of sand diving, where men and women strap on contraptions and fins that bring them deep under miles of sand, to push their way into the buildings and towns that they scavenge for goods. The goal is to find the mother load, the big score. Whispers of an area called, Denver (Den-var) are what sand divers dream about. The score of score and which Palmer, thinks he is about to become a part of. Once we are introduced to Palmer, the story pans out and encompasses Palmer's family, his older sister Vic and their younger brother Connor. It also briefly portrays their mother and father, who have both abandoned their children.
The story is done in the 3rd person POV, but the narrative is harsh, full of bad language and conveys the life that this family is living within. The land is hard to live in and their lives have not been easy, but they do try and stick together in spite of all the hardships that they deal with. You don't really get immersed in the charters as you might in other dystopian, but instead Howey gives the story to you in pieces and parts, in back and forth progression as each character reveals their piece of the story. It can get a bit confusing, but if you stick with it until all the pieces come together it is well worth it.
The writing style is gritty and realistic, the tone harsh and not very emotional, but it sets the tone perfectly for the landscape. Karen Chilton's narration fits the setting perfectly, spinning visions of Mad Max meets The Book of Eli, perfectly. It was a great listen and I highly recommend checking the omnibus out.
Recommendations: Fans of science fiction and dystopian elements should really enjoy, this is an adult science fiction novel, on lines with DUNE, sans the Space Opera element and The Postman by David Brin. Again, adult, so expect harsh language and mature topics, but nothing explicit.
Yes. I was working while I was listening for the most part, and sometimes I miss things. Also, it was just too short.
The whole concept of sand-diving and the suits that allow them to do it.
I love her narration - she makes me see the characters in my mind.
Be careful what you dig for.
I want more......more....more....more!
I bet it would be hard to follow up Wool and the rest of the Silo series. Though it may not be as good as Wool, Sand is a very interesting concept for a book, I just wish that Howey would expand on the story a little more....and he just might.
I simply think HH is an imaginative, creative and masterful storyteller. Between the Wool series and Sand, I am a fan and will read anything he writes next.
70+, been reading SF since 1953. Vision is going so have switched to Audible.
A perfect example of "butterfly effect" in our daily lives. Thought provoking in many ways. I will continue to watch for more Hugh Howey presentations.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Hugh Howey has a gift for creating elaborate dystopian worlds that readers love to visit despite the fact that they’d never want to actually live there. In Sand, his unfortunate characters abide in a desert world that is gradually being buried by sand which constantly blows in from the east. Over the years its relentless intrusion has overcome so many towns that new generations keep building on top of the ruins of their predecessors. Nobody knows where the sand comes from or why. Nobody knows if there’s anything better over the horizon because when people leave to find out, they never return.
The heroes of the story are the wife and four children of a man who left them years ago. They are a bitter bunch, left to try to hold their family together in a hopeless situation. The mother has resorted to prostitution, the oldest daughter is plagued by painful memories, the oldest son has disappeared. The younger sons seem to be the only ones who want to keep their father’s memory alive.
All of the kids are, or want to be, sand divers like their father. They strap on special gear which allows them to dive into the sand and salvage buried objects — objects that prove that a prosperous and technologically advanced community once lived in their land. Objects that make them curious about the past and wonder what’s beyond the world they can see.
As the story starts, it’s time for the annual family camping trip. It’s no coincidence that, unbeknownst to them, now is the time that the world is about to change, not just for this family, but for their entire world. Every member of the family, even those we don’t expect to see, will have a role to play. And they might not all make it out alive.
Much of the appeal of Sand is simply the curiousness of Hugh Howey’s brutal world. It is obviously a far-future United States. How did we end up like this? What is the rest of the planet like? What happens to the people who leave? Why haven’t they figured out how to get out of this situation? Where is their father? Daily life is harsh and monotonous as the mother sells herself to support her children and the younger kids labor to carry their daily quota of sand away from the town’s water pipes. Their weary work is never done and progress is never made. The world of Sand is a cruel place to live.
There’s a little bit of romance that momentarily lightens the tone and Howey also provides some beauty with his inclusion of the sport of deep sea diving. Anyone who dives or knows people who dive will recognize this — fins, air tanks and regulators, diving buddies, diver down flags, fear of the bends, the thrill of treasure hunting. Except that instead of the glory of the open sea, divers in Howey’s world experience the claustrophobia of being buried alive.
In some ways Sand is a warning about totalitarianism, oppression, and how hard life can be when individual freedom is squelched and technological progress stalls. The book description says Sand is an “exploration of lawlessness.” But there’s something deeper here. If you brush all the grit aside, buried underneath you’ll find that Sand is a tender novel about hope, faith, redemption, family, and the difficult things we’re willing to do for the people we love.
The Sand omnibus edition contains five parts which were previously released separately (“The Belt of the Buried Gods,” “Out of No Man’s Land,” “Return to Danvar,” “Thunder Due East,” and “A Rap Upon Heaven’s Gate.”) I listened to the audio omnibus edition which was produced by Broad Reach Publishing and read by Karen Chilton. She has a lovely rich voice that I enjoyed listening to for 10.25 hours. I recommend this version.
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