Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.
Or you’ll get what you wish for.
tl;dr Verdict: : If you like a superbly written, sci-fi mystery drama then this should be on top of your lists!
Not the usual way I write reviews, but here goes….
First thing that stuck me from Page 1 was the prose. It was delicate, subtle and like quicksand, it gently grasps you and never lets go till the end. Without getting purple, it was so immersive that I was able to get as close to the characters as a reader can and in many cases, felt right there with them.
Second, talk about great characters! There are no “heroes” in this. Just normal people thrown into extra-ordinary situations and getting by as best as they can. The realism in their background stories, their views, thoughts, inspirations … all leading to their actions is so genuine and just feel right. Surreal!
The setting is a dystopian world where above ground is not habitable and people live in underground silos. Going out is certain death and even specially designed suits can’t survive for long. People live in underground “silos” and have formed their own community and survived for as long as they can remember. The book starts with Sheriff who in a unexpected turn of events requests to go outside (knowing it’s death) for unexplained reasons. This sets chain of events in motion that have serious consequences for not just the players, but also for the rest of inhabitants too.
The worldbuilding is subtle and excellent. We have the silo world which is where most of the story takes place and then the outside world, which is where mystery is being unraveled. Both these are built with care and in sync that we can see the events in one creating ripples across the other. The community of silo is quite detailed and we get to see the levels, the jobs people have and their parts in overall community, their own hierarchy all the while building up their mysterious past. The outside world is bleak and heartless spread with harsh mysteries and corpses of people who went outside.
I’d say this is more of a mystery/drama set in a sci-fi world. The bulk of the story focuses on set of people who get pulled into the game and sets off the dominoes. By following the people, the world of Silos and outside organically expands and we get to see more pieces. The people in focus don’t have any more information than the reader, so we are all in this journey together. What sets off as a quest to understand the Sheriff’s actions gradually expands with stakes getting progressively higher leading to a action-packed smashing climax. Though the immediate plot is resolved, it has opened up a new puzzles that made me look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy!