The first original novel from author Hugh Howey in six years, Across the Sand takes us back to the world of Sand, to a far future many generations after a disaster has destroyed civilization as we know it, where four siblings struggle to build their futures amid the harsh wastes of endless desert.
The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes, a land of howling wind and infernal sand.
In this barren home, siblings Conner, Rob, Palmer and Violet daily carve out a future. They live in the shadow of their father and oldest sister, Vic, two of the greatest sand divers ever to comb the desert’s depths. But these branches of their family tree are long gone, disappeared into the wastes beyond, leaving the younger siblings scratching in the dust, hopeful for a better life.
On the other side of No Man’s Land, Anya was born beside the abundant mines knowing her prospects would be to marry, have a family, and work in ore, in service to the Empire of the East. But when an atomic bomb delivered by a stranger destroys most of her town—murdering all her friends and community—she follows her father to a strange land of dunes to bring vengeance to their enemies.
SAND was a book I read immediately after I devoured the Silo Saga and loved the vividness of the world and the society of ‘divers’ in the high-tech dystopian steampunk world. It was a bit ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Waterworld’ (but replace the water with sand.) where society lives on dunes that rest atop the ‘old world’ hundreds of meters below. ‘Divers’ use specialized suits to manipulate and soften the sand around them allowing them to dangerously submerge in search or treasures below.
We return to that world with ACROSS THE SAND following the lives of 2 families on opposites sides of the map. What I found most engrossing about this is the rich dynamics between these characters in their own society as well as the contrast between them.
Hugh Howey has mastered the art of the dystopian lifestyle. A community of people living against the odds, content in their place and yet there is one who seeks more. The story never feels bleak or downtrodden, it simply carries on like this is how things are supposed to be. The relationships that he crafts between the family, friends, as well as enemies are strong and complex, never feeling fleeting or inconsequential.
Across the Sand flows like 2 galaxies colliding, We get to experience the motives of those who oppose our existence and seeing things from the point of view of Anya within the town of Agyl was really an enriching POV. While the dynamic between Connor, Palmer, and Violet was engaging, light, familial, and honest.
There is enough action to put into an Indiana Jones movie, including pirates, treasure hunters, and the inspiring adventurer. Layered with intrigue and close-calls Across the Sand hits the bullseye on all fronts.
Across the Sand is a highlight of engaging story craftsmanship. I left this book with a sense of empathy as i experienced the struggle of these characters and the outcomes. Hugh Howey did a remarkable job with this follow up and I encourage you to check it (as well as ‘SAND’) out. Both are available today.