So. How does one start a review for a book as big as this one..?
Wool by Hugh Howey feels like the best book I’ve had in my hands this year. I know it’s only April. But I don’t feel like I’ll read another one like it soon. Books like this you only come across every so often.
All I can think it reminds me of is Way Station by Clifford D. Simak, although that one was more sci-fi, and this one’s more dystopian. But the scope, the ideas, the implementation… That’s what feels close.
In case you haven’t read that one, well. Let me explain. It’s THAT BIG.
I do not know how to review this book without giving things away, to be honest. Hugh Howey appears to be like that magician who pulls rabbits and other surprises out of his hat, and they just never stop coming. Plus, he’s extremely good at creating suspense. I wouldn’t even call his suspenseful surprises twists. It’s more like you get to see the story bit by bit, layer by layer being uncovered, new to both you and the characters. The characters do the unthinkable many many times too, except it’s the kind of unimaginable that you can actually ground logically. Another thing is that being the protagonist is handed down like a relay – a relay of danger. Being Hugh Howey’s protagonist is no enviable task.
The story begins in a silo – which isn’t really a silo, it’s more of a shaft, a bomb shelter, deep in the ground – sheltering the last remaining life on Earth, because the outside is a vast deadland. As comfortable as you can get in a place like that, it bothers you if you can’t see the outside. Apparently. Because the people who live there don’t really know why they need to see outside. Not like it’s changed much over the hundreds of years. It’s still deadly.
But in order to see the outside, someone needs to go out and clean the cameras. Which is… Also sort of… very deadly. Which is why it’s the punishment for wanting to leave the silo.
The story begins as a simple “what’s really outside” and ends up where you never would have expected it to. I can basically promise you you’ll be surprised. The silo, to me, seemed like a parallel to our world – the top only cares about appearances, and the bottom part cares about actually making things work.
Let me describe at least some of the divisions of people living in the silo:
Despite the visual rendition, I really liked the mechanics. They are the good guys here.
The top to middle people, basically the middle class:
The IT, or the guys at the 2% of society:
I hated most of the entitled bastards from IT, but I have to admit – Howey knows how to write his villains. Even the biggest villain in the book, Bernard, is someone you can’t quite hate. Because he’s written so well. You can even empathise with him, because you know what he knows – and considering that, perhaps there was no other way. It’s the creators of the silos that committed the true primal sin. All of their spawn have no choice but to survive, and they do all the best that they can – in the only way they’ve been told.
I loved this book, and I loved it entirely.
(Not just me, so did my mom. She’s also finished the sequel already and keep pestering me to drop my current read and just finish this one so I can TALK TO HER. LOL)
There’s not a thing I would change in it, not a thing I was skeptical about. It’s a story I recommend to everyone – but most especially to all apocalyptic and sci-fi fans. It’s definitely worth your time. It’s worth more than that. It’s worth your feelings.
Have you read anything of Hugh Howey’s?
Or heard of this one? Do you like dystopian books at all?