PJV Quickie: The Sand Omnibus by Hugh Howey was a hit on audiobook. I have not had the pleasure to read Howey’s WOOL series, so for me this was a first look. I thought his take on the dystopian world was stunningly real and his portrayal of life in this world, both haunting and thrilling at the same time. This is a great audiobook pick with narration by Karen Chilton whose clipped and mature voice gives depth to the story.
Review: The world of Sand is far in the future in a world covered in Sand and a desert landscape. The residents of the area make a living by diving into the sand, digging for treasures and artifacts of the world before, where the buildings touched the sky and food came in cans. The world Hugh Howey created was richly portrayed, each description of the world made it more real, until finally, I could image living in a world where houses were sinking into the sand slowly and people were afraid of what lived over the dunes.
The beginning of the tale covered the concept of sand diving, where men and women strap on contraptions and fins that bring them deep under miles of sand, to push their way into the buildings and towns that they scavenge for goods. The goal is to find the mother load, the big score. Whispers of an area called, Denver (Den-var) are what sand divers dream about. The score of score and which Palmer, thinks he is about to become a part of. Once we are introduced to Palmer, the story pans out and encompasses Palmer’s family, his older sister Vic and their younger brother Connor. It also briefly portrays their mother and father, who have both abandoned their children.
The story is done in the 3rd person POV, but the narrative is harsh, full of bad language and conveys the life that this family is living within. The land is hard to live in and their lives have not been easy, but they do try and stick together in spite of all the hardships that they deal with. You don’t really get immersed in the charters as you might in other dystopian, but instead Howey gives the story to you in pieces and parts, in back and forth progression as each character reveals their piece of the story. It can get a bit confusing, but if you stick with it until all the pieces come together it is well worth it.
The writing style is gritty and realistic, the tone harsh and not very emotional, but it sets the tone perfectly for the landscape. Karen Chilton’s narration fits the setting perfectly, spinning visions of Mad Max meets The Book of Eli, perfectly. It was a great listen and I highly recommend checking the omnibus out.
Recommendations: Fans of science fiction and dystopian elements should really enjoy, this is an adult science fiction novel, on lines with DUNE, sans the Space Opera element and The Postman by David Brin. Again, adult, so expect harsh language and mature topics, but nothing explicit.