Review: Sand, Hugh Howey

June 30, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Sand, Hugh HoweySand by Hugh Howey
Published by Cornerstone, Random House on 5 June 2014
Genres: Adventure, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost. Their father was a sand diver, one of the elite few who could travel deep beneath the desert floor and bring up the relics and scraps that keep their people alive. But their father is gone. And the world he left behind might be next.

Welcome to the world of Sand, the first new novel from New York Times bestselling author Hugh Howey since his publication of the Silo Saga. Unrelated to those works, which looked at a dystopian world under totalitarian rule, Sand is an exploration of lawlessness. Here is a land ignored. Here is a people left to fend for themselves. Adjust your ker and take a last, deep breath before you enter.


Hugh Howey has done it again! He has created another desolate dystopian world and sucked me right into it.

I have made no secret of the fact that I loved the Silo Trilogy, so it was with much trepidation that I started to read Sand. I was concerned that Mr. Howey might let me down. That Wool may have been a fluke, and my appreciation of the author may be tarnished. Not the case I am happy to report.

Sand tells the story of four siblings who live in the post-apocalyptic state of Colorado. An endless desert has buried the ancient world, and their people barely survive in the harsh wasteland. They work hard for every drop of water, and live under constant threat of terror attacks in their lawless society. The siblings (Victoria, Palmer, Conner and Rob) are all somehow involved with the dangerous job of sand-diving (I thought of it as deep sea diving, only through sand) where they scavenge items from the old world for resale. One day Palmer is approached by a band of outlaws who claim they have discovered the mythical city of Danvar buried deep beneath the dunes. Palmer, along with the rest of his family, is about to stumble on a truth that will change their perception of their entire world.

This is a fast-paced, highly engaging, very readable novel. The prose is not poetic or flowery, and Howey moves the action along swiftly and with purpose. His description of the sand and sand diving were particularly successful. Just as the Inuits purportedly have various different terms for snow, so do these people have numerous terms for sand – showing just how important it is in their lives.

The sand diving scenes were surprisingly realistic. I felt my own lungs gulping for air as the characters had to make their way through the sand without being buried alive – I took deep breathes after each dive. His explanation of the dive suits and the diving process were really good too. Though in reality it would be impossible (I think), Howey makes it plausible.

Some negative comments have been made about the world-building part of this novel. There is no completely satisfactory explanation as to how the world became this way (though it is attempted towards the end), however, I have a feeling there may be another book in the works, and our questions will be answered. Hugh Howey will not let us down!

four-half-stars – Howey has done it again!

Natasha lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son. She is a self confessed bibliophile who enjoys literature and adult fiction. She also loves travelling and aims to visit 40 countries by the time she is 40 (current count 36).

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