Wool – Hugh Howey

Wool – Hugh Howey

Title: Wool
Author: Hugh Howey
Genre: Dystopia/Science Fiction
Publisher: Random House Group
Publication Date: 25th January 2012
Pages: 537
Rating: 2/5 stars


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 is the first in a trilogy, which was described by the Sunday Times as ‘The next Hunger Games’. That endorsement was what prompted me to pick up the book in my dystopian phase. I had two major problems with this comparison:

1) It isn’t a YA novel – the characters are mostly middle-age or late twenties, which isn’t what I expected.

2) There isn’t a lot of death – yes it is a post-apocolyptic world, but really it is quite calm – nothing as horrifying as watching children kill each other. My dystopia reading gave me feelings of shock and horror, and that was what I was looking for. I was sorely disappointed.

We start out with the story of Holston, the sheriff in the silo community. His wife chose to leave the silo, which means death, and he is tortured by her reasons. Eventually he too chooses to leave, at the end of the first few chapters, and we lose the only character with which we have formed a connection.

The next little bit focuses on the Mayor and the Deputy’s search for a new Sheriff. They must travel down into the depths of this silo, which finally gives us a bit of world-building. The concept is pretty cool – huge silos, massive metal containers, have been created as self-sufficient communities so that humans can continue to exist in an uninhabitable planet.

It doesn’t start to get interesting until about three-quarters of the way through when Jules, our main character and the new sheriff, gets kicked out of the silo but manages to survive longer than the typical thirty minutes. She searches the world outside the silo and discovers (shockingly) that theirs is not the only silo in existence – there are more!

It is never fully explained why the people inside the silo communities can’t know about the others. The one Jules rocks up in has had a civil war of some kind and the silo is decrepit with only a few bedraggled souls still inhabiting it. Her discovery of a radio means that she can communicate with people back home, but only those in the IT department, the supposed bad guys.

It feels like an incredibly disconnected story and only after a bit of research did I discover it was originally written as a collection of short stories. There hasn’t been enough editing to make it a properly coherent book. There was a lot of character development but the characters weren’t particularly likeable – they were irritating and a bit stupid. The silo set-up was sort of cool, as was the community structure, but it wasn’t explored in anywhere near enough detail to satisfy my love of world-building.

I didn’t like this book particularly much and have no desire to read the next two in the trilogy. The writing wasn’t captivating enough, even though the story had potential. It is probably good for those who like a guilty dystopian read, without the need to analyse everything as deeply as I do.


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