Monday, October 26, 2015

Story Threads

Reviewing The Unraveling, the fourth story in Hugh Howey's Silo series, presents an interesting challenge. By this point, the story is so far in that it's difficult to offer a synopsis of the plot (or even a tease) that doesn't threaten to spoil earlier installments for folks who haven't read it. Still, I want to continue giving the series my endorsement, so here's my best effort.

The residents of the silo's lower levels are outraged at what has happened to their "local hero" Juliette, and as a result are about to declare open rebellion on the silo's leadership. Meanwhile, Juliette herself is cut off and powerless to stop what is to come, and is dealing with a world of troubles all her own. If that sounds a bit generic, my apologies -- but the Silo series continues to entertain me, and I want to preserve that experience for you.

This is the first installment of the series not to center on a wholly new protagonist, and Juliette is a great character to continue carrying focus. Author Hugh Howey writes her as a competent and resourceful person who isn't unrealistically clever. She's in a fish-out-of-water situation in The Unraveling, and the way she deals with it is very satisfying; half the time she's putting her mind to work solving familiar problems, and half the time she's trying not to lose her mind because of the strange situations in which she finds herself.

But the story isn't all from Juliet's point of view. Multiple other characters who had existed in the background of the earlier short stories now each take turns having the tale told from their perspective. Some are more effective than others, but all are reasonably well-drawn personas.

In terms of plot, this is the best of the series yet. Where 1 and 2 were almost extended character studies of a sort, and 3 featured a protagonist who had less information than the reader, 4 leaves both character and reader guessing at what will happen next -- and each turn of the page is a thrill.

I give The Unraveling an A-. You're definitely missing out if you don't give the Silo series a try.

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