Monday, August 5, 2013

Wooly Bully Indeed!! A review of Hugh Howey’s Wool

I haven’t been ventured into a Dystopian novel in a long time, and after reading about Wool and how incredible it was, I had to give it a try. I’m also a sucker for authors who self published before they made it big, because it gives me hope that people like me can one day achieve my goals as well. Summary and review after the jump.

Wool is pretty straightforward. At least it starts off that way. The world has been ravaged by what seems to be some form of nuclear holocaust, and survivors have found shelter in an underground silo that goes 150+ floors deep into the ground. The silo at first glance seems to work as one homogenous entity, the people all carrying out different tasks to keep the silo running for the generations that follow. Radical ideas however are not welcome and uprisings that took place a few centuries before are reminders of what change and openly speaking your mind can infect people. those who are found guilty of such treason are sent outside to cleaning. Basically, the top floor of the silo is adorned with giant screens that show the outside world. People who are sentenced to cleaning, i.e. death, are sent outside in a suit, and it is expected of them to clean the numerous cameras that broadcast to the screens- seeing as how the cameras pick up a lot of dust and grime from the outside and cleaning is necessary-. While it is up to the person being sent out whether he cleans or not, everyone usually does so without hesitation.  So that’s the background information. 
The Story follows Juliette, a 35-year-old woman working in the mechanical floor all the way at the bottom of the silo. She gets the chance to become sheriff and seeing this as an opportunity to wrestle some power away from the IT department, which is basically the department that makes all the decisions, Juliette accepts. However, she underestimates the cunning of the IT head and what he will do to keep himself and his department in power. Throughout the story Juliette uncovers truths which were not universally acknowledged- see what I did there?- and it changes her life and the lives of the rest of the silo forever.

Let me first come out and say that I liked Wool. It took me a while to get into it, but when I finally was, It became a page turner. The problem with the first few chapters is that it features characters that are not present for the rest of the story. Now I understand that as an author, you need to set the scene for the reader to understand what’s happening, but I got a little pissed that I invested my interest in these characters only to have them be replaced by other characters a few pages later. Juliette is likable; she features growth throughout the story, which cannot be said for many of the other characters.  Lukas, the man she has feelings for, conveniently pops up when it’s obvious Juliette needs companionship, and once again of all the people it is Lukas who becomes an important part in the plans of the Insidious IT department. While I know that this is what being a writer is all about, being able to put your characters in the best possible setting, I couldn’t help but feel some things fell into place a bit too easy.
 Howey is able to describe the Silo wonderfully and with almost no dramatic irony taking place, the reader is as much in the dark about this novel as the characters in it. The discourse the novel introduces, the consequences of such a nuclear holocaust, of people ruining earth to the point that it is uninhabitable and ,dare I say it the effects of global warming, stay with the reader throughout the entire novel. I kept asking myself how did it get to this point and why did it have to. Luckily, Howey does answer that, though perhaps a bit briefly. Once I got the answer though I was like: What the Fuck?!? It made sense and it also made me fucking mad. The novel, to me at least, featured the importance of honesty and communication. Keeping the truth from the silo, while it seems the best thing could be no further from the best. The lies are what make the population weak, because they have no idea what they are living for. This again can be compared to a form of political function of only the people way up top know what exactly is going on and they feel that’s best ( Edward Snowden and the NSA hacking come to mind). So, Even if you’re not such a fan of sci-fi or Dystopia, I recommend this because it makes for a good discussion about topical events, and how much we as people are still primitive and cruel in some ways, even though we ourselves are unaware of the fact.

You can buy Wool here: (You’ll get one of those kewl quotemarks if you buy- check the site for more on that)

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Once again a note on covers: I decided to post a picture of my own book rather than a stock photo to show you guys something. This is the British version of the book (Arrow), and I don’t know if it’s just my luck and the one I received, but the first half of the book basically started falling apart; so I’m gonna link you to the American version, though if you prefer the British one-which I did- feel free to buy that one, though I felt i should warn you.

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