book reviews by Althea

Dust – Hugh Howey ***

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I loved ‘Wool.’
With ‘Shift,’ some cracks started appearing in the silo of my enthusiasm, but I carried on happily.
With ‘Dust’ – well, I felt that Howey was coasting on his momentum; using up the supplies that the previous stories had squirreled away in the storeroom.

It’s not terrible… but neither does it feel necessary. Moreover, I felt really disappointed with a major part of the resolution of the story. One of the things I really, really liked about Wool was that **MAJOR SPOILER** [well, I’ve read an awful lot of post-apocalyptic stories where survivors are holed up in their bunker, dome, fallout shelter or what have you, until they’ve forgotten why they’re there and how long they have to stay there. The VAST majority of these stories feature Our Characters discovering that the outside world is livable after all, and venturing out to live in it. Wool didn’t do that. Characters went outside – and they died. It was great. At the end of Dust, Howey does a 180 and… does it. Out we go to a beautiful new society! (hide spoiler)]As I said, disappointing.

In addition, a GREAT number of the details and plot points in Dust feel retrofitted; even more so than in Shift. It wasn’t all planned out in advance; Howey clearly never intended to go so far with this world. He wrote himself into a situation, and then kept coming up with more character intentions and technical details; trying to fit them into the already-published canon. Some bits work better than other bits… but it’s obvious. And some of the critical details that the plot hinges on really make very little sense.

It’s still quick-moving and entertaining… it just starts to crumble a bit if you stop too long to question the whys and wherefores. It would’ve been wiser to just not explain many of these things, and leave them as eternal mysteries, rather than come up with kludges.

I can’t help wishing, having finished it, that Howey had let this story stop at the end of ‘Wool’ – alone, it would’ve stood as a classic. 


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