Sand, by Hugh Howey, is a book I first read when it came out many years ago now on Kindle. I’d been a fan of Howey’s since stumbling on his Wool series just as the second book in the series was coming out. I got the urge to revisit this book and the Wool series after seeing that Wool has been adapted for TV (as Silo on Apple TV) and while I mostly enjoyed it this time around, I’m kind of wishing that maybe I’d dropped a credit on Wool instead.
I remembered the broad strokes of the plot – a world covered in sand where “sand divers” dive deep into the dunes (like, hundreds of metres) to find treasures from the past. Those treasures are from a long-buried American city. I distinctly remembered some of the claustrophobic feelings from parts of the book, and a vague recollection of a few other minor parts, and that was about it.
I am torn, though. The story is unique and sells an intriguing premise, the “what if” almost of climate change going in the opposite direction where the earth is covered in sand rather than water. Some of the parts are heart-pounding, but others seem to drag on. Some of the characters seem a little one-dimensional, while others seem more fleshed out.
What it doesn’t answer, or at best has some general hand-waving in the direction of an explanation, is that many of the plot points are fully realised. Like the author had a great idea but had no idea how to explain the mechanics behind it. Sure, we get a general explanation of how the sand came to be, but that feels a bit of a cop-out, considering just how much sand is out there.
It also felt a little like Howey had maybe run out of enthusiasm and just wanted the book wrapped up. The conclusion springs from almost nowhere and the book, almost abruptly, is done. After all the build-up, a little more time spent here would have been nice.
The narration by Christopher Ragland was okay, nothing exceptional, but not dreadful either. He was a little one-note, especially with the female voices. Production was good though, again not great. Nothing major really, but a few really minor and infrequent background noises that I made a note of.
So all said and done, it’s an okay story that could have used a lot more work. I’m now second-guessing whether to revisit the Wool series or not. I did read that more than once though, so maybe it has more going for it.