Review: Shift Omnibus Edition

Shift Omnibus Edition
Shift Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are all middle acts dark by their nature, or is this just a recent trend? Shift enriches the world set forth by Wool, providing a back story of how we got here and the people involved. If you've read Wool and enjoyed it you should definitely go ahead and read Shift. I'll leave the rest in the spoiler tags below.

First, let's talk about Donald. Donnie is a schmuck. When he is first introduced I sort of saw him as the underdog hero, but the more I read the more I disliked him. By the end of the story I'm wondering whether he actually wanted to have the congressional seat he was elected to, or just took it because Anna manipulated him into having it. Donnie spends the first 1/3rd of the story whining that he doesn't think he is doing the right thing, but happy to self-medicate his worries away. He spends the next 1/3rd trying to check himself out, and the final third he finally finds some start killing people. Not a good guy!

What about Anna, though? She's a tough character for me to believe. Attractive, intelligent, powerful....and somehow also an Overly Attached Girlfriend with a fixation on Donny. We never learn whether there was an affair between Donny and Anna, only that they had a relationship prior to Donny and Helen getting together. Yet Donny behaves as if any interaction with Anna is elicit. Anna, meanwhile, continues to manipulate any and every situation to put herself next to Donny and eliminate Helen. Why, though? Is it just the challenge of being denied something she wants, or is there something about Donny to be attracted to? I couldn't see it.

I really hope we get to see more of Mission in Dust. Otherwise, that was an awful lot of pages dedicated to exhibiting a plot element.

Learning more about Solo/Jimmy and how he arrived as one of the last survivors of Silo 17 was interesting to see.

Throughout the story I've had trouble keeping mental track of the timeline. Has it been 500 years since they went into the silos, or just 100? Perhaps the author intended to create this confusion, but I'm either misreading, or there are some inconsistencies in the description of the amount of time passing.

I'm also having trouble accepting that the US government went along with the idea to nuke Atlanta. For show. Maybe we'll learn in dust that there is some reality distortion field surrounding the silos, but if that is the case it makes the story even more difficult to swallow. Wouldn't someone wander into the silo area? Is it supposed to be some BioSphere type experiment with unwary participants? The final chapters seem to hint at that when the drone encounters blue skies and green grass after passing beyond a flight threshold. On the other hand, that could have been just another visual trap like the view created for the cleaners, but why?

The silos are peopled by the folks who attended the Democratic National Convention, with one silo per delegation. Just how many people attended this convention? Enough to populate all 50 silos? How many people are in each silo? I should go back and re-read, because I think this was covered, but even with a population of a few thousand it seems unrealistic.

Are these books a political statement from Howey? I hadn't thought so when reading through Wool, but now I'm not so sure. The environment of the silos could certainly be seen as the nightmare scenario Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting. They are socialist societies with the government exercising near total control in every facet of life. Thanks Obama!

Is the outside hostile or not? When Silo 1 gasses another silo, what is that supposed to do? Solo got gassed, but he's still walking around. Is that just a pre-cursor to mark the intended victim for the nanos outside, or is there some other purpose?

I have a lot more questions than answers after reading Shift. After a short break for some other reading, I'm definitely looking forward to diving into Dust.

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Jade Mason