17. ‘Wool’ by Hugh Howey

After starting Wool a couple of months ago, I just couldn’t put it down. This was a very addicting read, and I found myself trying to read a little at a time every chance I got. Hands down, this is easily one of the best science fiction novels I’ve read in ages, and I was thrilled to discover that this is the first in a trilogy. I will definitely be picking up the other two installments. 

Wool is the story of a dystopian society where the outside world is an uninhabited and poisonous wasteland. The toxins in the air will eat away at any material in a matter of minutes making survival on the outside impossible. Human beings live in a gigantic silo that is several stories high and takes days to traverse. The number one crime in the silo is to ever say you want out, for to utter those words condemns you to death on the outside. Occasionally, criminals are “sentenced” to exile on the outside. The condemned are provided with cleaning supplies, which can be used to wipe the camera lenses outside of the silo that project the outside world on a large projection screen. These lenses accumulate dirt and grime over time, so prior to the toxins eating through their survival suits, the condemned clean them with special “wool” pads. Thus, one of the central mysteries of the novel is established. Why do the sentenced make the effort to clean the lenses prior to their deaths?

One of the best qualities of this novel is the pacing. Howey structures Wool in a way that slowly answers our questions while adding new layers to its mysteries. I honestly had no idea what was going on and was pushed to continue reading further. Each chapter ends on a small cliffhanger which urges you to continue reading on. As Wool slowly unravels, more characters are introduced with alternating chapters focused on one character’s point-of-view. I was really impressed with how the main character of the story isn’t even introduced until far along into the novel. The story moves along quite well as answers aren’t given right away but there’s enough excitement that it felt like a quick read. The result is a satisfactory ending with some questions still left unanswered for the next installments.

I thought the structure of the Silo was done well. There’s both a massive feel to it as well as a sense of claustrophobia. It was interesting to see how characters formed alliances and how everyone fell into their own clicks as each floor of the Silo focused on one specific aspect of its functioning.

This work started out as a self-published short story that Howey grew into a novel. I eagerly look forward to reading the remainder of the Silo series.

“Better to go out to see the world one time with his own eyes, than to be burned alive with the plastic curtains.”

 

What are your thoughts on the review or this book?

 

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