Shift by Hugh Howey

The basics

Title: Shift


Series: Silo #2

- Wool (2013)
- Shift (2013)
- Dust (2013)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate. In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event. At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened. This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling WOOL series.

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in Shift by Hugh Howey to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel. If you need help remembering what happened in Shift, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Shift?

  • 2110: Troy wakes up from cryo-sleep, realises everyone he knows is dead, and is given pills to help with the trauma.
  • 2049: Senator Thurman asks Donald Keene to design a silo underground. It’s related to CAD-FAC, the Containment and Disposal Facility which will store nuclear waste. No one will allow this facility to be build without a safety net. The silo is that net.
  • 2110: In Silo 1, the doctor sees to Troy and gives him some instructions on how to eat well. The doctor reassures Troy that his strength will return soon. Troy heads to his office ready to start his first six month shift. He cries.
  • 2049: Thurman’s daughter, Anna, who is also Donald’s ex will be working on this silo project with him. Anna and Donald chat about recent nanobot technology that can keep you youngish and delay aging.
  • 2110: Merriman gives Troy the handover. Troy is nervous to take over because he wasn’t trained to run the silo that runs the others. Merriman mentions there’s fracturing in the other silos.
  • 2049: Donald’s wife, Helen, isn’t happy that Donald is working with his ex. Senator Thurman reminds Donald not to share any details with anyone, including other project members like Mick.
  • 2110: Troy eats dinner and talks with a guy called Hal, who talks about forgetting.
  • 2049: Donald goes to see Thurman in the facility where he’s receiving his nanobot treatment. Thurman gives Donald a book to read called The Order. He tells Donald to memorise it.
  • 2110: Troy stops taking his pills. Silo 12 is lost because of an uprising. Troy is distraught.
  • 2049: Donald goes to the big event that Thurman has planned. Helen goes to the wrong area. Donald tries to find her but Anna stops him because pretty quickly bombs start exploding. Atlanta is attacked. Everyone flees underground into the silos.
  • 2110: Hal has to be put into deep freeze. Troy tries to find his wife but is confused. He can’t find anyone called Helen.
  • 2110: Troy becomes more and more distressed. He is put into deep freeze. We have realised by now that Troy is Donald.
  • 2212: Donald is woken up by Thurman. He’s groggy from being frozen. Thurman says more silos are being lost and they need his help.
  • 2212: Anna is also awake. She tells him Victor took his own life. 
  • In Silo 18, Mission is a porter. He delivers things between levels. He recalls his childhood, the way his mother died during childbirth, and thinks about the lottery system.
  • Mission goes to see an old woman called The Crow, who is ancient. She seems to be able to remember the old world. She gives Mission a note to take to Rodny in IT.
  • Mission is able to hand deliver the note even though he’s not supposed to have access. Rodny gives Mission a note in return which reads “Help me.”
  • 2212: Donald learns that Helen lived in the next silo over. She married Mick and had children. She died a while back. Donald is distraught. But when Anna comes to him in the night he sleeps with her.
  • Mission has to go and find another porter called Cam. A bomb explodes in Mechanical. Mission is injured and carried higher up by two porters.
  • Mechanical plan to fight the farmers because they believe they sent the bomb. Mission’s father is killed.
  • 2212: Thurman tells Donald that the pills had no effect. The medicine is actually in the water. But Donald is immune for some reason.
  • 2212: Donald demands to see Charlotte, who has been frozen. Donald tells the others he was taking medicine before the big convention. The prescription was under his sister Charlotte’s name, which is why no one knew. This could be why he was resistant.
  • 2212: Donald realises that Victor figured out what’s going on in silo 18. Some people there must remember. They need to find those people and wipe everyone’s memories.
  • 2212: Thurman speaks to a shadow called Rodny (yes, the same one) and tells him everything to get him on board.
  • In silo 18, Rodny kills the Crow because she’s spreading stories that make people angry. Rodny believes they all need to stay chill. Mission is shot.
  • 2212: Donald gets a suit and heads over to silo 2, planning to die at his wife’s resting place. He 
  • is dragged back to silo 1.
  • Three years later, Misson and Allison are married. Allison is expecting. Mission wants to call the baby Cam, but he doesn’t remember any Cams.
  • 2345: Donald is woken up again. He is told a woman from silo 18 made it out and over the hill. They keep calling Donald Mr Thurman.
  • 2312: Silo 17. Jimmy is pulled out of class by his mother. The bangs are getting louder. They try to flee but Jimmy and his mother are separated. Jimmy falls off the stairwell.
  • Jimmy lands a few floors below. He needs to find his dad. Yani grabs him to use as bait. Jimmy’s father shoots Yani and locks himself and Jimmy behind a steel door.
  • Jimmy’s father says the airlock is open.
  • Jimmy’s father gives him the key to the silo. He takes Jimmy to a bunker and then leaves him to go and find Jimmy’s mother.
  • 2345: Donald is filled in on the current goings on. A cleaner left silo 18 in a modified suit. She’s heading towards silo 17. Silo 17 is lost.
  • 2345: Donald logs in to Thurman’s account. He reads Victor’s suicide note.
  • 2312: Jimmy uses the radio and is able to briefly speak to his father. His father tells him to wait.
  • 2312: A group of people arrive at the steel door. They have Jimmy’s parents and they demand to be let in. Jimmy’s father tells him not to because the people will kill him. Jimmy’s father is killed. Jimmy tries to open the door but puts in the wrong code. The door locks after three failed attempts.
  • 2345: Donald coughs up blood.
  • 2312: On the hub, socket 40 lights up. Jimmy answers the call, and the person on the other end says they were too late. 
  • Silo 1 calls and asks what happened. Jimmy is unable to tell them much. Silo 1 says they’re shutting silo 17 down. White smoke comes out from the vents. Silo 1 assumes Jimmy is dead but that’s not the case.
  • The men outside keep trying to get in through the door.
  • Jimmy reads some reference books that contain information about the old world, although he doesn’t know this is what they are.
  • 2345: Donald asks the doctor a lot of questions about bringing people back from being frozen. He realises that the code Anna sent was a locker number. Donald heads down to the lockers and it dawns on him that Anna kept him from Helen. No shit.
  • Donald kills Anna. He doesn’t listen to her warnings, which is pretty stupid. He then finds a note from her locker which mentions the Pact. Donald realises that everyone in the silos was meant to die.
  • 2314: The men get in and Jimmy kills them all.
  • 2318: Jimmy leaves his server room to look for food and supplies. He renames himself Solo.
  • 2323: Solo heads down to supply and finds a warm flashlight. He freaks out because this means he is not alone.
  • Solo hears a potential baby crying and goes to look. Instead he comes across a cat which he adopts and names Shadow.
  • 2345: Donald stops the chef from experimenting and making bagels. He inducts Lukas as the next head of silo 18. Donald tells Lukas that they had silos ready because they made the end of the world happen.
  • 2327: Shadow and Solo come across a pile of dead bodies up top.
  • 2327: A man enters the server room and attacks Solo. Solo kills him and his accomplice, a pregnant woman.
  • 2345: Donald wakes up Charlotte. They send out a camera drone. Donald is sure he saw green grass and blue skies.
  • 2331: Solo wonders why the cafeteria bodies aren’t breaking down like they should.
  • 2331: Shadow dies of old age.
  • 2345: Donald wakes up Thurman and tells him he knows it’s only 200 years before Thurman plans to kill them all. Thurman believes only one silo should survive. Thurman wants the knowledge of the world ending to die with them. Donald shoots Thurman.
  • 2345: Jules arrives in Silo 17.
  • 2345: Donald calls Silo 18. He tries to speak to Lukas. Jules answers instead.

That’s what happened in Shift! Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

Buy the Series

Interested in buying a copy of Shift or the rest of the series? Use our affiliate links below to help support the site!

Other recaps for this series:

Leave a reply