Book Review: 'Dust' by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey“Dust” is the final instalment in indie darling Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga, which began with “Wool” in 2011 and concludes with this just-released title. I picked it up on release day because I enjoyed the previous two volumes and also because Hugh Howey sells his work free of DRM, and I am all for that!

“Dust” picks up where the “Shift” omnibus left off, with Donald and his sister Charlotte hiding in Silo One and trying to unravel the end game for the silo folks, while Juliette struggles as mayor of an untrusting Silo 18. While Lukas, her lover, picks up the slack on her mayoral duties, and builds a relationship with Donald over the radio, Juliette is hoping to rescue Solo and the others in the abandoned Silo 17. Eventually, the two plots collide and things get interesting…

Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey

The book has some beautifully written moments, and I think Howey handles interior dialogue exceptionally well. Several of the characters face the epiphany that meaning well and doing well are not the same thing, and at least one villain from a previous story is posthumously redeemed.

There is a heart-breaking scene where a priest confronts the loss of his flock with a handful of bible pages that could spell either hope or damnation depending on how they are read, and one of Solo’s child friends is delightfully actualized as one of the best characters in the book.

But … I had the same problem with this book that I often do with series enders, and that’s that some of the wonder and beauty and creativity that makes me fall in love with the earlier books gets lost in the frantic race to tie up all the loose ends. There was just so much plot in this book! And sometimes, that meant the character payoffs had to wait.

There was one love story that didn’t really get its redemption until after one of them died, and there were a few major characters who never got their chance to make us love them at all. And some of those were even living at the end of the book! It just felt a little frantic to me.

I’d have liked to see Juliette actually be the leader of these people for a chapter or two before she asked them all to risk their lives for her. And I’d have liked to make time for some smaller character moments too—Hannah’s infant ends the 800-page book without ever even getting a name!

Overall, I’d say this was a fine note to end the series on, and a satisfying conclusion for the “Wool” fans. But as a book in its own right, I felt it was a little too plot-heavy and just not as beautiful as “Wool.”

I rate this one 3.5 out of 5—but with that said, I do think it’s a must-read if you’ve followed the series until this point.

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3 Comments on Book Review: 'Dust' by Hugh Howey

  1. I basically enjoyed Wool, but I didn’t continue because I couldn’t face more interminable clanging up and down metal staircases. Should I reconsider?

  2. Joanna, thanks for the review. I’ve order this one now. Had not heard of the books or his name until about two months ago, i missed the whole thing, living oversaes but wool is now translated into Chiense for Taiwanese readers. But the Enghlish book not avail. only via amazon. ONE QUICk qusetion: could this series be considered a climate-themed novel, or CLI Fi as some are calling this new genre. OR is it more in the SCI FI genre? what would you say, Joanna? — DANNY

  3. David—the Shift book has a very different tone than the others—it focuses on different characters and a different silo. The Dust book brings it all together. I do think the first book (Wool) was the strongest, but they do hold up pretty well as a trilogy.

    Dan—no, I don’t think this is a climate-themed book. It’s pretty much straight sci-fi.

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