Dystopian, Fiction, Loved-it

When being over 6 feet under is safer than out. Wool, Hugh Howey One of the best dystopian books I've read in a while

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?

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Nathan (@reviewbarn)
4 years ago

I absolutely loved the original short story (part one of the omnibus) but wasn’t as big of a fan of the rest of the omnibus.

But that first story. MAN did that hit hard. One of the best short stories I have ever read.

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while, and your description of all the characters and how even the villains are so well written has me itching to read it!

Brian Joseph
4 years ago

Great review. I loved the way that you used pictures and themes. It is both funny and helps to convey your message.

I think that I would really like this book. I have always liked stories of this kind.

It is fairly common for small fictional groups such as these to represent a microcosm of the world at large. With that, in the hand of the right author, this concept can lead to a great story.


[…] Season and 4 3 2 1, but I’ve also started Shift, which is the sequel of Wool. I posted my review of Wool this week, and the book was just so amazing! Check it out if you haven’t read the book yet. […]

Laura Thomas
4 years ago

I only read the first story but it had such an impact. Would love to read the omnibus. And what a fabulous and fun review!

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

I tried Wool about four years ago and it was a DNF but your review makes me want to give it another try! I’ll add it to GR 🙂


[…] torturing myself to finish it. Gah… Also so disappointed. The first book in the Silo series, Wool, has been simply brilliant, but Shift has just been a grating, dragging grey slab of boredom with […]


[…] So am I surprised that Shift wasn’t really a charming sequel to Wool? […]


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