Hugh Howey: Wool

Wool Cover

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.

But some people choose not to conform.

These are the people who dare to hope and dream.

These are the dangerous ones.

Jules is one of these people.

She may well be the last.

Wool had been sitting on my shelf for quite a few months before I attempted to read this book. What with review books coming in, and other new releases I so desperately wanted to read, I had put off the inevitable and left it time and time again. Having now picked up the book, I don’t know why I was so daunted by the size! I’ve read many large books in my life, but when having to keep up with regularly scheduled posts on this blog, sometimes it can be even more of a challenge to read a larger book!

Wool is dystopian, science-fiction novel set in the near future. Our current generation has let the world go but, planned for such an event by creating safe havens within giant silos for the future generations to live in relative safety from the poisonous atmosphere we have left behind. In these silos, the general population are kept in secret about the truth of their existence. They are aware that something in the past resulted in their current living conditions, but no-one understands why the cameras up top must frequently be cleaned and why, after years of perfecting the cleaning suits, everyone still dies mere metres from the silo top. In this series opening, we find out the truth of their existence and why people are sent out to clean for their crimes as well as why those in a higher position of authority deem it wise to keep this a secret.

I really enjoyed the concept of this novel. I could see the clear references to The Hunger Games but found the overall setting and outcome a refreshing take on a genre that, I believe, is slowly beginning to repeat itself. I loved that, in essence, small civilisations are living in these silos generating electricity, growing crops, ventilating air, and  purifying water in such a small confined space (though in reality, these silos are hundreds of floors tall and buried deep within the ground!). It was also interesting to read about the dynamics of the silo in regards to societal issues and the politics of the place.

Though at times I did find the pacing a bit slow, there was always something going on to keep your attention. It needed its slow parts in order to build up this new world and present to us this new way of living and the differences between now and then. There was a lot of suspense and tension at times leaving you questioning events that were taking place, but also questioning the motives of the secondary characters within the novel.

And finally, the characters. I really enjoyed each and every one of them and Howey portrayed them really well. I hated the antagonists and loved the protagonists and cared deeply about what happened to them. I was scared when they were scared, angry when they were, and so on. Our main character Jules is flawed, emotional, and analytical making her the perfect protagonist within this setting. She is thrown in at the deep end into a part of this world within the silo she has never been used to, an altogether different life to the one she has lived in the down deep. She acclimatises well and doesn’t let situations get in the way of her achieving her goal, making her a likeable and well-rounded character for this novel.

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