by Hugh Howey
“They ought to have been left on their own, both people and the planet. Mankind had the right to go extinct. That’s what life did: it went extinct. It made room for the next in line.”
Does the end justify the means? The debate on this theme has raged for a long time, and an intelligent person can take up either side of the argument and win. Of course, when an equally intelligent person argues the opposite side a stalemate results. The same is true with idiots on both sides, which we’re much more familiar with. But no matter how you slice it this is an impossible argument unless the terms of battle are unequal in the first place.
With this book the trilogy becomes a study on the theme. While it’s heavily weighted in one direction on the surface, the other side is present as well, and by the time it’s over we’re provided with an extra layer of philosophy by asking the question.
It’s difficult and tedious to review the third book in a trilogy without spoiling the story, so it may be best to recap Wool and Shift briefly, touch lightly on Dust, and let your imaginations take you where they will.
In Wool, some of the people buried in the underground silo where they’ve been living and dying for hundreds, or thousands, of years, learn of a conspiracy to alter the truth of the uninhabitable surface world through equipment that’s been tampered with. Still, the toxicity on the surface is immediately deadly, so the story is contained to infighting among the massive but packed to the brim silo.
In Shift, we see the origin of the silos. Some of our characters are dealing with this new subterranean world while coming from the old, and one of our main characters starts to believe and act on her belief that there are others that may sympathize with her position.
In Dust, the conspiracy of the silos is fully uncovered as many our characters become aware they are not alone with their silo, but there are many other mysterious silos in the vicinity, presumably containing other people. They also learn that there is one silo to rule them all. The read bogs down a bit in the beginning, but then moves forward at a brisk pace it maintains for the rest of the novel.
With compelling characters in dangerous, claustrophobic situations that are not at all far from our imaginations, The Silo Saga almost tells the story of the world we’re in right now but removes it from today’s context and places it into tomorrow’s where we’ve already destroyed everything. It does, however, maintain hope, and this is no small feat at the end of the world where the trilogy begins.
“What lasts forever?” she obliged, sure to regret it but sensing that he was waiting for her to ask.
“Our decisions,” he said.