This is the sequel to the New York Times best-selling Wool series. It combines the three Shift books into a single audiobook in order to save the listener a few bucks. The saga concludes with Dust, which will be available in late 2013.
In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.
In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event.
At almost the same moment in humanity's broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall - and the ability to forget it ever happened.
©Lifetime Hugh Howey (P)2013 Hugh Howey
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I was disappointed that Wool Omnibus was not read by a narrator who was as good as the material so I found it a real pleasure to listen to Shift Omnibus, an even better book IMO, read by the wonderful narrator of one of my favorite series, Riyria Revelations, Tim Gerard Reynolds. This is what audio books are all about for me; take a great book, paired with an appropriate great voice and then revel in the synergy of listening to a good story made even better in the telling.
If you liked Wool, you will almost undoubtedly enjoy Shift because it answers so many questions presented in Wool. Personally, I liked Wool a lot, but I really loved Shift. It is hard to decide how much of that is Howey's writing which has gotten ever more fluid as the story evolves and how much is the great narration by Reynolds. Probably some of both. Howey writes in a style that is very good for audio because he uses a lot of descriptive language; the man can truly paint a vivid picture. EX: Howey describing a character trying to shake off the effects of cold sleep; "Thoughts and memories reluctantly assembled like exhausted soldiers roused from their bunks in the middle of the night and told to form ranks in the freezing rain." And, Reynolds is one of those narrators whose voice pulls you in until you are not really conscious of the narrator at all so the story just flows and you get pictures in your mind almost like a movie.
Although Shift is labeled a sequel to Wool, it is actually almost entirely a prequel (the time periods of the two books start to overlap toward the end of Shift) and provides much of the explanation for the evolution of the "Wooliverse". It would be a crime to give much of the plot away because Shift is just chock full of those "AHA moments" when you suddenly understand something that didn't make sense or was confusing in Wool. I love being witness to real craftsmanship from an author and I could feel it all the way through Shift - Howey mapping out how this crazy society that I saw in Wool could ever have happened - AND making me believe it!
Great characters, suspenseful plot, wildly vivid settings, and a first-rate narrator - what is not to love about this? Can't wait for Dust (the next, last?, in the Wool series) scheduled to be released in August. Fingers crossed that the audio version is released at the same time with this same narrator!
I love reading/listening to something that I can loose myself in and have a hard time finding reality.
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 focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
After Wool I didn't expect much from Shift. I did not like Wool much, finding the narration poor and the premise, story and characters quite weak. I only listened to Shift because I bought Wool and Shift at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised to find Shift well narrated and well written with interesting adult characters and a story-line that kept me interested. While the premise remained weak the story and characters made the premise almost believable. I found the difference between Wool and Shift astounding. The tone and style are quite different. I will read the third if I hear it is like Shift and not like Wool.
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.
I saw a lot of reviews that complained that there was too much detail or too many unnecessary plotlines in this sequel. I didn't think so at all! I felt each chapter brought a little more life to the world and the series as a whole. Were the years with Solo's "friend" necessary? Absolutely not. Did I love them? Absolutely. If you're reading this series for the excitement and the mystery-solving of Wool, I can see how Shift is a disappointment. If you liked Wool because of the characters it introduced and the world it created, I think you'll find Shift just as entertaining.
I was really disappointed with the narration, however, because I loved Reynolds in the Riyria Revelation books. Sadly, he just wasn't a good choice for American accents. The southern Georgia accents were particularly jarring and sometimes slipped into something sounding Scottish.
I would have trimmed the content down a bit. I liked how much detail there was, and I also liked how the whole point of the book seems to have been depicting people who were completely dead inside and just "phoning it in" for their jobs and lives, but I feel like it dwelled on that bit of atmospherics for almost the entire book. A good premise, but it needed to be more concise.
As it was, "Shift" ended up making me feel like the characters, and the only thing keeping me listening to "Shift" was my long morning commute. So it was already a part of my ritual, and there was no point in changing it. I guess that makes me exactly like the characters in "Shift."
I loved "Wool" immensely. I loved every single character in "Wool," even the "bad guys." I even loved the romance that people seem to like protesting about. After finishing "Wool," I got "Shift" as soon as I could, anxious to spend more time in this world.
While I like how "Shift" answered many of my questions about "Wool," I didn't like the long slog and I didn't care about any of the characters nearly as much as the denizens of "Wool." I especially didn't care about Washington DC in the above-ground near-future (which populates about a third of the book).
Would I have been so harsh on "Shift," if it didn't come after "Wool"? I'm not sure. I think much of my criticism boils down to "it wasn't as good as 'Wool,' which was excellent."
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.
A successful follow up to Wool seemed like a pretty tall order. Wool hit me out nowhere. It had that new car smell, something I hadn't really seen before, so it seemed like I was bound to be disappointed simply because a sequel would be more of the same. Making that harder was the idea of this book being rooted in a time period closer to the modern age, so mundanity was bound to intrude.
Wow. I was wrong.
This was a great follow up. Hugh Howey proved to me that he was no one trick pony. Perhaps I'd been dazzled by the imaginative world of Wool, and had failed to notice his skill at character development, but in this book new and old characters continued to drive this arc to a new height.
As for the narration, I have to say I was never aware of it. I was totally immersed in the story. I consider that high praise, as that's exactly what I want, and I hope it isn't taken as anything negative.
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.
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