Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Sense of Order

For those of you who have been tracking my slow progress through Hugh Howey's peculiarly numbered Silo series, I've reached the middle section of the second volume. (That is, the seventh story of nine.) Second Shift -- Order continues the "flashback" portion of the overall story, chronicling earlier years in the Silo program.

As with First Shift -- Legacy, this installment tells two stories in tandem (this time alternating every few chapters rather than in a strict A-B rotation). A major revolution is at hand, threatening to envelop and destroy the silo. One plot line follows one of the silo's creators, awakened from cryosleep to offer insight on how this revolution has come to pass and how it might safely be averted. The second plot line follows a young porter named Mission, who is unwittingly caught up in violence.

Each of the two story threads brings something interesting to Howey's overall story. This is the first time that we've been inside the head of someone "in the know," an architect of the silo who remembers the distant past and holds himself responsible for the destruction of the world. This allows the exploration of complicated emotions that haven't previously figured into the narrative.

Meanwhile, the Mission story allows exploration of another part of Howey's world building. Porters, carrying loads up and down the stairs of the silo, have been part of his vision from the very beginning, though very much in the background. Yet they have a quite unique perspective in his world, being among the few people who actually move around within the silo and get to see different parts of it. Porters are a unique blend of Everyman and specialness, and it feels necessary that Howey should tell a piece of the story from a porter's perspective.

The perspectives are more interesting than the story arcs themselves, though. There just aren't many surprises along the way. There is a quite intriguing cliffhanger introduced at the end, though that of course is a matter for the series' next installment. In terms of narrative, this isn't Silo's most compelling installment.

Still, I'd call it a bit of an uptick from First Shift. I'd give Second Shift -- Order a B.

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