Author: Hugh Howey
Published: March 2013
For suspense-filled, post-apocalyptic thrillers, Wool is more than a self-published ebook phenomenon―it’s the new standard in classic science fiction.
In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.
His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.
Characterization and badassery
I liked the main characters in this story. (Or disliked them, in the case of villains.) Most of the characters were prepared to make hard decisions and take a good, hard look at the world they live in. Juliette, our protagonist, filters into events as they are transpiring. She doesn’t have quite as much agency as I’d like, but being straitjacketed as a society is part of the story, so her agency has to come later. And it does.
Plot and pacing
Definitely an interesting premise. People on an uninhabitable Earth must reside in underground silos to survive. Little windows to the outside provide a tiny view of the world, and those windows need cleaning from the outside on a regular basis. People sentenced to cleaning are doomed to die, yet no one ever fails to do the cleaning? Why? The answer picks at a thread that pulls apart the entire fabric of the underground society.
The pace is steady and good early on. It began a drag around two-thirds that increased as I got closer to the end. The author seemed unsure of how to handle the wrap-up, so the characters spin their wheels for a while before we get some real resolution.
Prose and editing
The prose is good. I understood the characters, their personalities, and their thinking process. The feeling of being in this world came through. It shows some earmarks of being an early work of a very talented author, with a bit of wordiness here or self-indulgence there. Rather than being a negative, I find these traits endearing because it allows a reader to experience an author developing his/her craft and personal style as they go along.
Nope, there is really nothing funny about this story. It’s depressing and sad, really. That’s why I don’t read many dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories. But even though I like to end a book on a happy-ending high, this is a very excellent story that was well worth my time.
If you haven’t read this one yet, you probably should. It’s in development for a tv show so you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the not-too-distant future. Might as well get in on the ground floor, right?
There’s enough of a mystery element to keep pulling the story forward, enough science to keep geeks like me happy, and the characters are relatable and honest about who they are. If the casting for the tv show is right and the directorial style nails it, this could be a great series. I’ll be watching.
“…people were like machines. They broke down. They rattled. They could burn or maim you if you weren’t careful.”