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This is the first book in the Wool trilogy and in my opinion by far the best. It's gripping and utterly compelling, right from the first chapter where most of what you're reading is the description of a staircase! I had a long argument with a friend about the opening chapter - he thought it was boring but it's really not - it's a fantastic piece of writing and you really get inside the character's head.
Howey is a fantastic world builder, as evidenced by the many 'Silo' fan-fiction titles that are being self-published online now, and Wool introduces you to that world and sucks you in.
The characters are well realised and they remained with me long after I finished, not just this book, but the trilogy as a whole. I read a lot of dystopian fiction, and the Wool trilogy is by far my favourite of recent years, with Wool being the stand-out book in the trilogy.
I've recommended this book to so many people, and I'm happy to say they've all enjoyed it, even friends who are 'non-readers'.
You must try this book! It's fantastic and I (almost) guarantee you'll love it!
Wool is one of those books that most people tend to love or hate. I was firmly in the hate camp for the first half of the book and quite ready to toss the thing in the bin without finishing it - something I almost never do. However I wanted to review it ( and do a nice hatchet job at that) so I felt I had to finish it, and surprisingly, by the end I found myself actually liking it - although love is far too strong a word.
Wool takes place in the USA at some point in the future. The earth has been poisoned as is no longer inhabitable for any form of life. It is barren and dead with the only survivors living underground. Every aspect of life is strictly regimented - to the point that many long for escape, even if the only escape possible is a gruesome death. Those who express their wish to go outside, or commit one of many other infractions against the regime are sent out, in a chemical suit designed to keep them alive just long enough to clean the sensors, leaving a clear view of the poisoned earth for the rest of the Silo's inhabitants, before the suit gives way and there lungs are burned up by the toxic gases. Why do the condemned always spend there last minutes of life dutifully scrubbing the sensors to provide a better view for those responsible for their death? This is just one of IT's secrets, and IT wields the real power in this horrific new world. And like any one with too much power - IT's head will kill to hold on his secrets and his control.
The story begins with reflections on a death, and then another death. The two main characters in this chapter will be gone before it ends, but they will leave a legacy behind them that will result in a great many more deaths - but just maybe a chance at freedom as well. At least as much freedom as is possible if you are confined in metal silo. We quickly move onto new main characters, some of whom will stay while others go, many appearing and disappearing before you ever get a chance to develop any feeling for the character. The main character however is Jules, whose life is about to take many strange, and terribly improbable turns as she is suddenly called from being a mechanic to become the head Sheriff for the entire silo, making her one of the three most powerful persons in the politics of this place. she is son left with murders to solve and an even deeper mystery - what is the secret that has cost so many lives?
Wool was originally self published - and is one of the industry's biggest success stories. Still, I do believe the lack of an editor shows through. This is a good story - but it takes far too long to get moving and is disjointed in places - quite possibly due to the fact that this one once several short stories. Previous reviewers have mentioned the stairs, and my God there are a lot of stairs of this book. I do feel an editor would have cut down some the needless discussions on stairs, removing several pages from this book but leaving a better product at the end. I don't know quite how to describe it - but I felt the main characters were lacking something. I found it very difficult to warm to them. I also had a major problem with the fact that fairly early in the book, the author jumps forward to a point in time meant to look like the end. My first thought was could someone really be so stupid as to give away the end of the book less than quarter of the way through? I quickly realised that it couldn't be, that it was meant to be a red herring, to throw the reader off, but for me it meant that the story's major twist was easily deduced at this point and took quite a bit from the overall pleasure of reading this book. This was the first point at which I considered cutting my losses and binning this.
However, the book does get better towards the end, and a few characters were introduced who actually caught my interest. I ended up glad I had persevered with what I was certain was 1,000 page + book until looking at the pages numbers for this review to discover it s only 560. It just feels like more. Perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment, but the writing did improve so much towards the end, and I did develop some curiosity on a few points - so in a moment of weakness - I ordered book two. I can't say I would have ordered it if I had seen anything else even remotely interesting in my price range of near the £3 mark, and I certainly would never consider paying a fiver for the book, but I did order the sequel, so I can not rate down too harshly. I am sincerely hoping that all the tedious scene setting ahs already taken place and we can jump straight into the story. I am also hoping the author has refrained from any more silly red herring type ideas - but despite this book's many flaws - it does hold some potential and I'm really hoping the next book lives up to this promise. ( if not I'm going to kick myself for wasting £3 on rubbish rather than splashing out £6 for something good).
Would I read again? Maybe - but I would skip the first 240 pages or so.
I won't go in to the plot details of the story a) they are readily available online, b) I wouldn't want to ruin it. This is purely my opinion. I have read the other review of Wool and I wholeheartedly disagree.
The plotline of wool is relatively original in what is quite a built up genre, and the level of detail to which Hugh has crafted this world is outstanding, and so close to reality it is chilling. The events set out in the book really could be only a few hundred years away. This level of complexity and closeness to reality creates a story that really can capture your imagination. If from reading the first few chapters you don't get this I implore you to continue.
As mentioned in some other reviews there does appear to be some holes in the plot if you go searching. Without saying too much these are intentional. Finish Wool, remember what you thought were plot holes and continue on to the second book Shift. It is mind boggling and the story has clearly been planned impeccably from start to finish.
The characters I found had just the right amount of depth to them, the book keeps up a good pace and doesn't get overly bogged down in character development. Although I found myself at the end not really feeling for each character and their fates, I was intrigued by each of their stories. To Hughs credit the second book does add slightly more emotion, but again I believe this to be intentional.
Overall, give it a try, I found it definately worth it.
Wool is a dystopian sci-fi novel depicting a world where the outside has become toxic and the human population is forced to live in silos, the book is by Hugh Howey. The books central character is Juliette also called Jules who is asked to become the silo's sheriff after the previous sheriff had volunteered to go outside and clean the monitors. The cleaning exposes the cleaner to the environment and is a death sentence; the previous sheriff had chosen to do this after his wife had performed the service 3 years earlier. His wife had left an enigmatic statement that she had found out the back history of the people and had a truth to tell everyone.
This book is clearly set in a dystopian broken world, we are incarcerated into an enclosed space and forced to use monitors and camera's to view the outside world. The precise nature of the catastrophe isn't explained but we are in a future Earth as there are cultural references to famous authors and such like. The book slowly centres on the actions of Jules, and her interactions with the mayor Bernard. She is arrested after discovery some unfortunate truths and is ordered to clean, however, she manages to work out that the suits are poor quality and makes it too an adjacent silo which is conveniently over the brow of a hill.
My view on this book is that it starts off well and looked like it would be entertaining at describing a static culture that fear the outside and live in a strict controlled environment; however, as the story progressed I became less and less interested in the characters or the events. There is a sense of repetition in the story, Jules escapes death a number of times and it feels like the same manner, there are endless loving descriptions of walking up and down stairs (can't say I found those sections particularly enthralling). There is also a lack of character development, we are told very little about the characters beliefs and desires but plenty about the walking up stairs and the desire for a static environment. The more I read the more my mind started to pick holes in the plot, so they are stuck in a silo for a few generations but there aren't any issues over waste, where does the oxygen come from or the fuel or why do they force people to clean the monitors at all?
It felt towards the end of the novel that even the author was getting a bit bored, there were plenty of actions scenes but none of it made any sense, there is supposed to be a war going on in the silo but the reader struggles to understand why. Finally, there is supposed to be a big revelation but it's been so obvious from the first few chapters that the reader just stops caring by that point. This book started well but became a real drag to read, and I have no desire to read the follow up novels, the narrative is turgid and the story when you get down to it a bit dull.