Wool, by Hugh Howey



Genre: Post-apocalyptic dystopia for adults, short stories

Reason for Reading: This was the choice for my real-life book club several months ago, but I only finished it this month. I had a bit of a reading slump in there, but I prevailed! 

Synopsis: In this collection of related novellas, we explore a post-apocalyptic world in which everyone is living in a “silo” spanning downwards into the earth, instead of up into the sky. There, they are safe from the toxic fumes that ravage the earth’s surface. However, it’s not at all clear how humanity got into this underground silo, why the people of the past have revolted so many times, and…slowly…new evidence arrives to suggest that possibly the people in power are hiding something nefarious. This set of novellas follows several different characters as they independently discover secrets of the silo.

My Thoughts: This book had a really slow start for me since I prefer novels rather than short stories. I like the character and plot development that is only possible with a novel-length story. Wool is a long book, but it is a collection of loosely connected novellas rather than one continuous story. This creates an intriguing atmosphere of mystery, and allows for different characters to discover different types of secrets of the silo – which is a refreshing turn from most dystopic literature these days in which one character manages to discover all. I guess this format is more believable in that way. But the format slows down plot and character development. The book started picking up about half-way through for me, though. This is when it started focusing on certain characters for longer. Thus, more character development. Also, about half-way through the book is when I started to realize that perhaps Wool was ideologically different than most dystopias. I began to wonder if maybe the choices the government was making really were protecting the people. Maybe ignorance – though abhorrent – was necessary in this case? I’m not going to say what my final conclusion on this subject was…you’ll have to find out for yourself. And I probably still need to read the prequel, Shift, and the sequel, Dust, in order to come to a conclusion.There’s still a lot of mystery to me about the silo.

4 thoughts on “Wool, by Hugh Howey

  1. I read the first two short stories last year. The first one was great, but halfway through the second I was wishing he left it just a short story, without any continuation 🙂 The second story ended with an unsolved mystery though, so I think I need to finish it to know what happened. It's good to know that the book is picking up and concentrating on certain characters later on! 🙂

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  2. I tend to have the same feelings regarding character and plot development when it comes to short stories verses novels.

    It does sound refreshing for a dystopian novel to break the mold of the rebellious individual fighting a completely oppressive power structure. Even if in the end the power structure is seen be need eliminating, just raising some ambiguity and questions about its role would add interest to what is becoming a cliche in so many stories.

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  3. I agree. It was refreshing for this book to even somewhat break the mold for dystopia ideology. That's the biggest reason I plan on continuing with the other books, even though they are likely going to be too dark for me.

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