Published April 12 2015
Last year, the Silo series blew me away. Great characters, great world building, and a really chilling looking into the human condition. Common themes in Howey’s works are – to put it in his own words – about “overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process.” With my high expectations of Hugh Howey, once I saw Beacon 23 was a thing I just had to read it.
I was not disappointed.
Like the first book in the Silo series, Wool, Beacon 23 is a collection of five novellas that go together to tell one story. The Novellas are called, in order; Little Noises, Pet Rocks, Bounty, Company and Visitor. All five novellas stand on their own – though I would recommend against reading Visitor without reading the others – and can be purchased separately on Amazon or as a complete novel. I will be reviewing the entire package as a complete novel.
Beacon 23 takes place entirely inside the titular beacon; a space lighthouse if you will. The Beacon Operator is a war hero who explores his own demons in the solitude of the beacon. At times, he questions his own sanity; especially in Pet Rocks. Pet Rocks was my favourite of the novellas. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I like anthropomorphising inanimate objects like rocks, but the humour and the mood whiplash in the story were also perfect.
Despite all the action of the novel being confined to a small space with very few characters, it is still packed with great world building and character development. The beacon operator starts to feel like a very real person very early on, and in every part of the story we get the feels as he goes through some pretty intense things. The war he fought in is still going on, and even though the Beacon Operator is off the frontlines, war still dominates most of his interactions with people who visit him, and of course it’s always on his mind.
Beacon 23 is an emotional ride. You will laugh, and you get very sad, and you will enjoy a very original, thought-provoking story. My only criticism is that the end was pretty abrupt. I can understand why it was so abrupt, but I still wanted a bit more time spent on it. Also, despite being set in space, this book feels more like a psychological thriller than a space opera. It deals with emotions rather than action. This wasn’t a problem for me, but if you want big space battles and the like, you will be disappointed.
As you can tell, I am really nit-picking with my criticisms. This book was amazing.