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.