No luck. I haven’t had any with recent books. I’ve wrongly thought that sometimes a large size might be an indicative of a good story line but as with Drood, size doesn’t matter. 30% into the book, I couldn’t find any connection with the characters, the plot was dull and what promised to be an amazing epic adventure, was instead as interesting as watching sand fall through an hourglass.

52738497.jpgSand follows a down-on-their-luck family of sand divers in a future Colorado – a Colorado you quickly find is nothing like what you would expect from the state. Everything is covered in hundreds of feet of sand – the book is aptly named, as essentially everything surrounds the stuff. Palmer, Victoria, Rob and Conner formerly lived what would pass for the high life in this dystopian-esque world, as their father was the leader of a ruling group called The Lords. However, their father ran off, left the children and Rose, their mother, with next to nothing to their name but a whore house. This fractured their family, especially as Rose’s debt piled up and she transitioned from running her whore house to working in it as well, which shamed the children.

“Life is capricious and cruel and totally fucking random and there is no hope of finding meaning in a nightmare. In a nightmare at least her enraged screams would come out a hoarse whisper, but Vic could not manage even that. Could not manage even a whimper.

The children are all, or aspire to be, sand divers – people who wear special, electrified suits that allow them to maneuver through deep sand, moving it around their bodies or, if skilled enough, moving large areas of sand to their will. The sand diving and sand suits in themselves are an incredibly creative concept, and Hugh does a masterful job of introducing them slowly, letting you get accustomed to the idea a bit, then gradually introducing more and more these suits can do. Beyond the suits themselves, sand diving is very dependent on the diver themselves – their ability to move sand, to keep their cool while being crushed under mountains of pressure, to risk their lives. The children are all oddly skilled in this art, taking after their father who was known for it.

As the story follows each of the children and their mother Rose for a time, the oppression of the people in the sandy Colorado strip is revealed more and more.

“And so it went, sand piling up to the heavens and homes sinking toward hell.”

Good bits:

The community battles daily against the ever-advancing wave of sand which threatens to bury their small towns. The story focuses on one family who have been struggling to survive ever since their father took to no mans land years earlier, never to be seen again.  That was cool. Sandscrapers (skyscrapers in the sand) were cool too. Diving gear that goes under the sand, cool as hell.

Bad Bits

Too much attention was given to worldbuilding and the story suffered. I trudged along, waiting for something to happen, waiting for some of the characters to become a little bit more interesting. 300 pages of crap.  The last 5% of the book contains the plot and a bit of an ending. The ending dropped off so suddenly, I was left reeling and a little lost. I’m not sure if there’s supposed to be a sequel or not but it was so open-ended that it didn’t feel quite finished to me.

She felt like a speck of sand in an alien land, confused as to how it had gotten there

So was I, darling, so was I. 1/5

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