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Wool by Hugh Howey

Posted March 15, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Speculative Fiction / 12 Comments

Wool by Hugh HoweyTitle: Wool (Goodreads)
Author: Hugh Howey
Published: Random House, 2012
Pages: 537
Genres: Speculative Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last

Hugh Howey’s independently released smash hit series Wool has been picked up and released as a novel. While Wool is more of an omnibus of the first five novellas, Simon and Schuster (in the US) and Random house here have been promoting it as a novel. While each novella does shift perspective, the questions at the end is what drives you to keep reading and that is what makes this a great novel. You find yourself with more questions than answers and you just need to dive into the next part in the hopes that you will have some of those questions answered, but knowing you’ll end up with more questions.

Hugh Howey has masterfully created this world built on lies and as you follow the characters you can’t help but wonder what the real truth is. Living in these huge 200 plus level underground silos, cut off from what may or may not exist outside, some lies need to be told to keep the peace. But what lie can really lead to peace? Aren’t all lies destructive by nature?

Wool is an exciting take on the dystopian/post apocalyptic genre and while there is something very familiar with this book, it also feels very fresh. The world is governed by fear and if you don’t obey you get sent outside to clean. Only problem with that is you’ll never survive the toxic air out there and this control leads to a totalitarian reign in this dystopian world. The antagonists of the silo turn out to be the IT department, because knowledge is power and this power struggle between this department and the rest of the silo is done really well.

The characters are just fantastic in this book, from Sheriff Holston who was likable but all of sudden volunteered to do the cleaning at the start of the book, to his replacement Jules, the strong minded female lead, and all the other characters on the way. I’m reminded of Game of Thrones in the way that you can never really get too attached because you never know who while be cleaning next. Even the minor characters have a sense of complexity that is often missed with other authors. This eye for detail and passion for a fast paced adventure with brilliantly flawed characters is what really makes Hugh Howey so successful.

I’m impressed with the huge success of this self published author and having read this, I now know why it works. The blend of questions with the fast pace and wonderful characters means this author is on track to become a masterful story teller. Wool really does live up to the hype and I hope you get a chance to read it soon. I’m torn between buying the kindle versions of the prequel, Shift, or to wait for the novel. I know if I buy each novella individually it will be torture waiting for my questions to be answered but I really want to go back to that world and see what Hugh Howey does with it.