Shift is the prequel to Hugh Howey's Wool, which chronicled life inside "the" silo and what happened when a woman sentenced to death beyond its walls discovers that the silo is not alone. In Shift, Howey goes back--way back. Centuries back, to when the silos were designed and implemented, as well as running a couple of other timelines. The book is divided into three parts, called "First Shift," "Second Shift," and "Third Shift," referring to "shifts" that the workers of Silo 1 man. Each shift follows 2 plotlines. In the first, newly-elected congressman Donald find himself working on the designs for a silo, which he is told is to be used as emergency housing if something goes wrong at a new nuclear waste containment site. A century later, Troy wakes up to work his first shift as head of Silo 1 and tries to regain the memories he's lost while dealing with the collapse of another silo. In the second part, Mission, a resident of Silo 18, finds himself in the midst of an uprising, while Donald is reawakened from his slumber to deal with the uprising. In the third, Donald wakes again to deal with Jules' escape from Silo 18, while the other plot jumps back in time to the collapse of Silo 17 and the following years to show us the background of Jimmy/Solo.
Some people have reviewed this as being slow, and I admit there's not as much brewing in the background here as there was in Wool, because if we've read Wool, we know where all of this is going. Still, I found the background here absolutely fascinating. The downfall of the world as we know it, the workings of Silo 1, the past uprisings of Silo 18, even Solo's background were very interesting to me. More interesting still are a couple of intrigues that are brought up here but I presume will be more fully explored in Dust, which follows up with Jules on the "present" timeline of the silos. How far does the ruination actually spread? Will more than one silo survive this ordeal? And what will happen when they, it seems inevitably, emerge from their isolation early? It's an interesting conundrum that Shift lays out, and while I knew where it was all going, the whos, whys, and hows of it all still intrigued me. There are still some twisty logics and imaginings here, typical of what I've come to expect of Howey, and I was very pleased with the result.
4 stars out of 5.
This book also served as the second half of the "A book and its prequel" category for my 2016 reading challenge.