Monthly Archives: December 2012

Review: Wool by Hugh Howey (Hint: I loved it!)

Intrigued by Hugh Howey’s success as a self-published author, one of the book clubs I belong to chose the Wool Omnibus for our December read. Everyone who read the book enjoyed it, even those who normally avoid science fiction–even those who normally avoid self-published authors.

The Wool Omnibus consists of five separate novellas that were originally published in serialized fashion, a la Charles Dickens. Together they form a highly original yet delightfully old school science fiction universe, a future where humanity survives in a silo underground, where the worst fate imaginable is to be sent for “cleaning”–to leave the shelter of the silo in a spacesuit, and clean the lenses that offer the silo’s inhabitants a limited view of the outside world. There is no coming back.

Howey creates a fascinating world and keeps the reader unsettled and eager for the next crumb of information about the silo’s purpose, the workings of silo society, and the truth about the world beyond. I read most of the omnibus in one day, unable to stop myself from gulping it down whole. With so many twists and turns, it’s nearly impossible to discuss the book without divulging some serious spoilers. Politics, power plays, mechanical prowess and human resilience all play a part as the story progresses. Also, lots of stairs.

Our book group found it noteworthy that Hugh Howey writes such strong, capable female characters–that may have been part of his crossover appeal for our all-female membership. He was even compared to Joss Whedon in this respect (they also share a brutal willingness to off sympathetic characters.) I know I’m not the only one who’ll be looking for Howey’s other work, in whatever form it appears.

Genre: Futuristic science fiction with an emphasis on human psychology.

Read it if: You enjoy suspenseful story-telling and high concept narratives (even if SF’s not usually your thing!)

Skip it if: You hate cliffhangers and expect main characters to survive until the end.

Movie-worthy: Ridley Scott thinks so. Who am I to argue?

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