In Hugh Howey’s breakout self-published fiction novel, generations of people live and die inside a giant underground silo. Their only glimpse of the outside world comes through a dirty camera lens. The worst punishment is to be put outside, where the air is so toxic that people are overcome by it in minutes.
The hills are littered with bones. But still, a seed of rebellion refuses to be put out. There are those that do not believe the outside world is as fatal as they’ve been told. Spurred on by drudgery, endless rules and conspiracy theories, these people will fight to the bitter end to uncover the truth.
This is easily one of the best books in its genre that I’ve read for a while. The main character, Jules, is easy to relate to – she’s strong, independent and she doesn’t give up. Having become part of a team responsible the silo, she’s forced to confront her own doubts and to decide whether or not to follow her convictions.
The concept of living in such a confined by well-equipped space underground is also really interesting, and very relevant, especially when you think of the recent spate of people attempting building their own personal bunkers to protect against the end of the world.
Despite the fact that everyone lives within the tight confines of the silo, very clear divides have emerged, with certain industries literally at the bottom of the pile, and the higher ranked people based nearer the surface. IT is an especially ominous industry – and in this book it soon becomes clear that they hold all the power. Key to this is their ability to control communications and the spread of information – a fact that remains very true in our own world today.
Paranoia is a strong theme throughout the book. The strong temptation of the unknown, the constant work involved keeping the silo alive and the confined living and working spaces mean that tensions run high. When conflict does break out, it’s violent and bloody. To deal with this, any attempt to cross the boundaries set by the silo is swiftly punished and those that ask too many questions are quickly suppressed.
Overall, it’s a quite disturbing picture of what our world could look like in the event of a disaster, man-made or otherwise. It’s a completely absorbing read and I literally can’t recommend it to people fast enough!