Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Shift: Legacy Review

As I said in my previous post, I'm obsessed with this series. I meant to take a break between finishing the first five Wool books and the first of the prequel series, but yesterday, I couldn't resist buying First Shift: Legacy. My co-worker, Tom, has been waiting to buy and read this until school ends, but I couldn't wait after finishing Wool 5. Plus, since I borrowed the other books from him, I figured I should purchase all Howey's other books in support of his work.

This book took me two days. It's about 266 pages, so it isn't super long. It follows two protagonists: Troy, in year 2110, who wakes in a facility under the hills of Georgia. The other character is Donald, a democratic congressman from Georgia in the year 2049. Through Troy's eyes, we start to understand more about the silos. He is in charge of Silo 1. He has to take on five shifts of six months. In between shifts, he is put to sleep (in a cyropod) for an indeterminate amount of time. There are only men in his Silo. The women and children remain frozen. We don't know until when. We don't know what the end game of all of this is yet. Troy takes pills to forget the past but is periodically overcome with sadness. As he slowly rebels against taking the pills, he starts to remember more of the past.

Meanwhile, in the past, Donald is a rookie congressman, who has been recruited by a powerful senator, Thurman, to work on a special project. The idea is that they will build a containment facility in Georgia to hold the world's used nuclear fuse rods. Donald, who studied architecture, is in charge of designing an underground building just in case something goes wrong. It's clear to the reader, although not to the naive Donald, that he is actually designing the first of the silos.

His storyline comes to a head at the 2052 Democratic National Convention at the facility site. It's an intense ending (or really, beginning) to his story. I suspected the connection between the two men early on, but Howey kept me second guessing myself as to how they tied together until the end. I was left absolutely reeling. I forgot to mention in my previous review how he has enough of a gift of words that I had very visceral reactions to his writing. In the 5th part, he wrote this long sequence where a character is underwater, and I literally felt like I was suffocating. At the end of this one, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. In a good way... is that possible? Well let's just say, I was shocked by some elements, while others confirmed my suspicions and the whole thing left me dying to read part 7... which he is only 5% into on his blog. AH! Luckily he's a fast writer. I'm sure there will be five books in this series as well, each one detailing a shift from silo 1, although I don't know that for sure. I read some forum posts about this book on his blog, and he actually jumped on and gave some hints about what lies ahead for these characters. We don't know what year the other Wool books occurred in, but it seems likely that Troy could be put to sleep and brought back to interact with the characters from the other series.

As I said in my last review, I can't emphasize enough how much I loved these books and how highly I recommend them. They're wonderful stories about people so even if you think you don't like dystopia, just try the first Wool. It's about 65 pages and if you hate it, don't pick up the next one, but I really hope you love it as much as I did!

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble.


  1. Hello Dorothy. We meet again. This time to palaver over the latest installment of the soap opera, strangely named, Wool.

    Wool 1-5 are terrific stories. Wool 6 is the prequel. It's not as good. In fact, it was a bit boring and I thought the characters were too cliched. Consider Anna & Helen. Oy vey.

    Hugh Hovey has a great story to tell. But because he's completely self-published, his books don't benefit from seasoned editorial advice.

    For my money, my latest favorite science fiction writer is John Wyndham who wrote Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos. Not a single word or comma, would I change in those classics.

  2. Tom, I'm sorry you didn't like this as much as the earlier ones. I really enjoyed it. You're right about Anne and Helen, but it was Donald/Troy that I was far more interested in. I wonder what the next book will bring!

    You passed on the John Wyndham books to me. I will definitely read them!