Over the course of 2013, one of my favourite and most intense reading experiences has been the sequence of extraordinary dystopian novels, Wool. Partly written as novellas, now coerced together into a near perfect whole, and partly developed as more lengthy explorations of the minds of those who live within the buried, noisy, metal silos, controlling their destiny or victim of it, the trilogy is now ready to end. Following Wool and Shift is Dust. Each novel is named so well, including the last. Now it’s time to look outside the claustrophobic cylinders towards their surrounding post-apocalyptic landscape of dust.
In Wool and Shift the world of the silo is brought vividly into focus as are the lives of the men and women who have to live this way consigned to one of over ninety floors, all linked by porters who run up and down the mammoth central staircase, passing messages between farms, engineering, schools, IT, law, hospitals and homes. We have seen what happens to those who try to break free of the rigidity of the silo and who manage to think back to the life before. They are sent outside to clean the uppermost window while the deep downers of the silo make the slow ascent to watch the dust removed from the skyview. After just a few minutes the cleaner is dead from the poisoned dust in the air. The rest of life descends back down the silo. But rebellion is spreading alongside a growing realisation of the truth. It can no longer be contained.
I wouldn’t want to tell you much about Dust because this final novel in the trilogy ends the sequence perfectly. That is the main thing to know. After the prequel of Shift, Dust returns us, enlighened, to the present and we catch up with the stories of Jules from Wool and Solo from Shift. We now know far more about Don and Troy of Silo as well as the reason for the silos and the plan of those who built them.
As with the previous two novels, Dust is extremely atmospheric with the silo world brilliantly evoked. This is a carefully stratified and utterly claustrophobic world, not only physically but also psychologically. These are great adventure stories but we also get to know people of enormous heroism and self-sacrifice. Dust also gives us the full stomach-sinking horrific magnitude of what this is all about and it is gobsmacking. The end when it comes is entirely satisfying, tying off the loose ends from the previous two novels while laying many of the stories to rest. This means it is very moving as well as exhilarating.
I have loved this series. The prose is immediate, attention-seeking and precise. The worldbuilding is second to none but so too are the characters. By this stage we are extremely fond of some characters while others are proving increasingly to be dreaded. The character development of many is wonderful and intricate. There are interludes which seem to have little impact on the end result but they all serve to make this dystopian horror more real. Above all else, the Wool trilogy is a puzzle and so this final part is essential and, I’m delighted to say, none of its pieces are missing.
I cannot recommend this sensational, original and ingenious series enough. Truly outstanding.