Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Turning to Dust

At long last, I've reached the final installment of Hugh Howey's Silo series, Dust. After eight novellas (compiled in two collections), Dust is a full length novel to cap off the story. Describing its plot without spoiling the story up to this point is nigh impossible; suffice it to say that flashback time is over, and all three of the major running characters share turns at the forefront of a race to the climax.

I'll start by saying that the series as a whole is very much worth reading. That established, I must also say that the ending didn't entirely meet my hopes and expectations. I had to sit with it a while to see if I could figure out why, and eventually hit on a "role reversal" as an explanation.

In a way, I'd compare the ending of the Silo books to the end of the television series Lost. The two really don't have a lot in common, actually; I'm thinking more of how people reacted to the series finale of Lost. The vocal majority of Lost's fans had become caught up in the show's convoluted mysteries. They seemed to be looking for a finale that would explain more. For me, Lost was always a series about its characters, with the various island mysteries a distant second in terms of interest. In my opinion, the series finale served up a very fitting, very emotional conclusion for all the characters, and so I was in the minority made perfectly happy by the ending.

With Silo, the shoe is kind of on the other foot. Dust absolutely provides a fitting ending to the journeys of all the characters introduced throughout the series. There's a spectrum there -- happy and sad, definitive and open-ended, but I don't think you really could ask for much more out of the book from a character standpoint. The problem is, there are a lot of off-screen characters for whom things are not resolved. Indeed, if you really think about what will happen in the wake of Dust's finale for "everyone else," the future is looking awfully bleak. It's a really sour note opposing the "music" Howey is trying to craft here.

But like I said, the series overall remains worth your time. I'd give Dust a B; it's not a masterful finale, but it's still a reasonably good book.

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