Dust – Hugh Howey

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 8.48.48 PMFrom the jacket:

What would you do if the fate of everyone you knew rested in your hands?

And the choices you made could lead to their salvation, or be the death of us all.

This is how the story ends.

This is the return to Dust.

I’m having some fixed feelings about the conclusion to the Silo Series. I enjoyed Dust a lot, and when I immediately finished it, I gave it a 4 crown rating in my head. (Does anyone else do this when they finish a book?) But a few weeks have past now; I’ve had some time to reflect on it, and I’m just not sure.

In Wool, Howey creates the world of the Silo. I loved it deep down in my bones, and it continues to haunt me weeks later. (You can read my geek out here, so I won’t subject you to it again.)

I was so excited to read Shift because it told the story of how the Silo came into being. Dust was neither of those things.

Dust is the conclusion of the series, the end of the story, the last glimpse of these characters that I’ve grown to know and love so much.

The end of a series always has enormous expectations to fill, and I get a bit nervous anytime I’m reading a final installment. There was a lot about Dust that worked really well. Howey kept up the breakneck pace, and continued to deliver strong, memorable characters. It had the same style and tone as Dust though, and neither of them felt as authentic as Wool. I think Dust bothers me so much because it left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

Because I’ve been dying to discuss these books with other readers, there are going to be ***major spoilers*** after the jump. Fair warning!

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I’ve been struggling with the end of Dust for weeks now. It was wonderful to see the inhabitants of Silos 17 and 18 safely reach the outside and find the S.E.E.D waiting for them. The last few pages with Juliette and Courtnee drinking tea together while laying out under the stars filled me with a sense of justice and gladness for them, and also hope for their futures. But the other part of me was screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE IN THE OTHER SILOS?” How can they carry on with their newfound freedom with the knowledge of all of the potential suffering and fear happening all around them?

I know that Silo 1 was destroyed, and with it, the ability for someone to destroy them all with the press of a button. No one will be monitoring them anymore, interfering with their lives, manipulating their decisions. It’s likely that eventually, some of them will make their way out. But how long will that take? How many people will die trying to find the courage to rise up against the oppression of those in charge? How many people will do nothing because they continue to live in a crippling fear of the unknown outside world? The same world where they’ve watched their friends and family go out to clean, and never come back.

To me, it felt really outside of Juliette’s nature to do nothing for the others. Howey does attempt to address this, but I’m just not buying it. The Juliette he developed wouldn’t have been satisfied with the liberation of her people, knowing that so many others remained ignorant and imprisoned. I think this is the biggest issue I have with Dust. I also have a whole bunch of unanswered questions.

Without further ado, here is a list of the questions that continue to plague my mind:

  1. (This one actually came up in Shift.) How is Solo able to eat canned goods that have been around for over 200 years? I know Howey writes that some of them are spoiled, and thus make him sick. But (and I’ve scoured the internets at this point) ALL of those cans should have been inedible. Especially acidic things like the PINEAPPLES he claims are his favorites. Someone explain this to me before my mind explodes.
  2. Anna found a way to trick the system into sending the good nanos in when they were ordered to gas silo 17. Was this only a one time thing? The whole time I was reading about the gas coming into Silo 18, I was waiting for them to realize that it wasn’t dangerous. I kept waiting for Lukas to radio and be all, “Come back, it’s totes cool over here. Everyone is fine”.
  3. While I thought it was a really cool concept, I don’t really buy the idea that the bad nanos being released created some sort of destructive dome around the silos. Why didn’t they travel out and continue to infect the world?
  4. (Also from Shift) What was the extent of the nano attack? Clearly the convention is bombed, but what about the rest of the planet? Are the people of the silos truly the only remaining survivors of the human race?

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Final Thoughts: Clearly this book gave me a lot of feels, (the most important ones involving canned goods which could NOT possibly have survived over 200 years and still be edible!) which is GOOD. It’s one of the best outcomes I can hope for after finishing a story. I want it to stay with me. I want to continue to wonder about the fates of the characters. This was a satisfying, if not frustrating conclusion to the Silo series. I remain a die-hard Howey fan and cannot wait to get my hands on everything else he has ever written ever. I have enthusiastically recommended Wool and the rest of the gang to everyone I know.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.10.19 PM

Favorite Characters: Charlotte, Donald, Solo

Memorable Quotes:

That’s the problem with the truth. Liars and honest men both claim to have it.

It doesn’t bother me that I won’t be around one day. I don’t stress about the fact that I wasn’t here a hundred years ago. I think death will be a lot like that. A hundred years from now my life will be just like it was a hundred years ago.

And every mistake. But every good thing we do as well. They are immortal, every single touch we leave behind. Even if nobody sees them or remembers them, that doesn’t matter. That trail will always be what happened, what we did, every choice. The past lives on forever. There’s no changing it.

Daytime was a shift, each one endured like a quantum of life, all the short-term planning leading up to another bout of darkness, little thought given to stringing those days into something useful, some chain of valuable pearls. Just another day to survive.

The world out there was the way it was no matter how much doubt or hope or hate a person breathed into it.

The pressure in the airlock grew, and the folds of her suit found every raised scar across her body, wrinkles pressing where wrinkles had once burned. It was a million pricks from a million gentle needles, every sensitive part of her touched all at once, as if this airlock remembered, as if it knew her. A lover’s apology.

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