Hugh Howey's Wool was one of the best books I read last year. Original, clever, well-written, I've recommended it to lots of people. Naturally, I was excited to find out that there was going to be a sequel.
Shift mainly takes place before the events described in Wool. The story of Wool, for those of you who haven't read it (obviously, SPOILERS ahead) revolves mainly around Juliette, a young woman living, together with thousands of others, in an underground silo. The world above is toxic and anyone who is unlucky enough to get kicked out of the silo dies within a few minutes. In Wool, we don't find out exactly why things are the way they are. Shift tries to do that. Through the main character of Donald, we get to look back at the world before silos, and how it became a toxic wasteland.
Just like Wool, Shift was released in parts before it was published as a book, and just as in Wool, I found the first half to drag on a bit – maybe because of their episodic nature. The issue I had with Wool, namely that...
Characters are introduced and fleshed out only to be killed off, turning out that they weren't important to the main story after all
bothered me a bit with this book too. But, in the end, the biggest issue I had with this book was that our main character seemed to reach important conclusions about the secrets that were hidden from him (and from us), yet these conclusions were never fully revealed to us. Was I not paying attention? Do I lack the capacity to follow the same logical steps as he did? I kept thinking that the big revelation was just around the corner, a revelation of such enormous importance (you want the truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!) that it kept me turning the pages. But the revelation never came. Not in a way that I was able to understand, anyway. In the end, I felt a bit cheated and the hints that there was a great mystery felt like nothing more than a way for the author to produce a thicker book.
That said, I still enjoyed reading this book. I love the world of the silos, the idea that whole societies live underground, unaware of each other. I want to find out more about these societies, their psychology, their religion, their politics. I will be reading the follow-up, Dust, but my expectations may be a little lower this time.