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Hugh Howey hit science fiction gold with his Silo Trilogy, which featured bestselling novels WOOL, SHIFT and DUST. Think a ramped-up version of any of the end-of-the-world YA series mixed with just a bit of Frank Herbert and his classic Dune saga.

SAND definitely had me thinking about DUNE. The only difference is that DUNE takes place on an alien world, and SAND, although it feels different, could be an alternate version of our own planet Earth. In this version of a post-apocalyptic future, we find the world that everyone once knew buried in sand. However, remnants of the old world still exist a long way beneath the new sand-filled world.

In an environment like this, the most important people are the sand divers. Imagine an underwater scuba team that dives into endless sand rather than the deep ocean. Our story follows a family of sand divers who have become separated by different events. They are living out a legacy started by their father, who was an original sand diver. Sand divers live for the exhilaration of free-falling like a dune-hawk and the liberating feeling of freedom that goes along with it.

"Howey opens the door to a new saga with this unique novel --- one in which family, trust and faith are hard to come by, but may be the only thing that will help you survive."

We are first introduced to Palmer. He and his buddy, Hap, trek to a community in need of divers and offer their help --- for a price. They strap on their gear and air tanks while attempting a dive far deeper than they have ever gone previously. One of the people who hired their services is a bear of a man named Brock. He and his people need someone to provide accurate detailing of the city known as Danvar that lies beneath the sand. This is something no homemade map has been able to do for them.

Palmer and Hap break through to the top of Danvar, but this is where things go wrong. Hap decides to turn pirate on his friend and strands him there, stealing his air tank. It is Hap who will be in for a big surprise when he makes it back to the surface only to have Brock and his people double-cross him and send him head-first back into the deep sifting sand to his death.

Next, we meet Conner and Rob, Palmer's younger brothers. They also dream of one day filling their father's shoes in the sand-diving game but are quite naive to the ways of the new world. Teenager Rob has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Palmer has not shown up for their camp outing, his mother is still bitter about their “thief” father running out on them, and he is somewhat distant with his older sister, Victoria (“Vic”).

Vic is next introduced to us and described as the prodigal daughter. She has been forced to make her own way in the new world and emerge from the shadow of her father. Vic has heard rumors of someone finally breaking through to Danvar and feels it may be Palmer. Meanwhile, Palmer eventually emerges from the tomb he felt buried in to return to the surface. He immediately recognizes that it might not be safe for anyone to know he is still alive, so he utilizes his sister's help to remain out of sight. The discovery of Danvar is indeed a big event that some would kill for.

Unlike the Silo Trilogy that featured strict rules as a way of life, SAND follows no such restrictions. This new world is one of anarchy and lawlessness, in which the diver and eventual keeper of the goods acquired on said dives are the biggest commodities to own. Howey opens the door to a new saga with this unique novel --- one in which family, trust and faith are hard to come by, but may be the only thing that will help you survive.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 18, 2017

by Hugh Howey