This book got me from 2012 to 2013. On New Year's Eve, I was so sick that I had to cancel my plans for the big night. Upset as I may have been, I found the perfect cure in this book. I was so utterly captivated by the story that I felt quite at peace with not celebrating along with my friends. How many times does a book have this impact?
I found the perfect setting, too: I switched off the lights, leaving only the Christmas tree blinking in the dark, I turned on my Kindle lamp and immersed myself in the strange world imagined by Hugh Howey.
Now, about the book: except for the first story, which stands on its own, the others are better suited as parts of a single novel, so I'm glad that I've chosen the Omnibus. I wouldn't have minded if it were 1000 pages long, as the writing was really good and the plot well-developed, not to mention the events which sometimes were so intense that I was almost biting my nails. Just when I though I might get a little bored, something unexpected happened and I was swept onto the crazy ride again. The ending is satisfying, although a bit abrupt, yet the story is far from being over. There are a lot of threads left open and I'm really anxious to read the next parts of the series.
The events take place in a post-apocalyptic future, when people live underground in a silo that extends 100-stories deep. There are no elevators, just a spiral staircase that leads from the bellows of the earth, where the Mechanical resides, to the top floor where the windows show the bleak, inhospitable world outside. The closed society is thoroughly organized and self-sufficient - there are farms, vegetable plots, nurseries, the silo has a mayor, a sheriff and deputies, IT and Supply departments. Yet people are kept in ignorance about their past and their purpose. There are rules and taboos (including that it's forbidden to talk about what's outside) and those who think on their own and revolt are put to "cleaning", which means they are sent outside in a protective suit, with enough oxygen to last for a short time. None of them has come back, yet everyone ends up cleaning the camera lenses that are located outside the silo. Nobody knows why they do that, seeing that they are about to die.
The first part focuses on the head sheriff who decides, on his own will, to be put to cleaning, just like his wife took the same strange decision three years ago. The things are not like he imagined them to be and the mystery deepens.
The second part follows the mayor on her long journey through the silo to the down deep of Mechanical, in search for a new sheriff. We get to know the structure of the silo and the destination of its levels. This part was a little bit boring at times, but it has its purpose in the plot development.
The third part focuses on Juliette (who from now on becomes the central character), the intelligent and hard-working girl who was chosen as head sheriff by the mayor. Until then she was fully absorbed in her work as a mechanic and she was oblivious to what happened on the higher levels. She wasn't a bit curious about the toxic world outside the silo. The situation changes when she finds out some things that are not quite right and becomes involved in a series of events that lead to tremendous discoveries.
I can't say anything about the last two parts without spoiling the story. Anyway, the book is a wild ride and it's worth embarking upon it.
If you are looking for a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then that's the one. It's a well-written, action-packed SF, with credible events and strong characters.