Book Review: Wool

Book Cover from Amazon

Wool by Hugh Howey

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON

Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.

 

MY REVIEW

This one is a little weird to write up. Originally published as a short story of only 50 pages, the story was so popular Mr. Howey was encouraged to write a followup, and then another, until he wrote a total of five books in a series (over 500 pages available as a single omnibus as well as sold separately). And that series did so well he added another trilogy. And that did so well he is allowing others to write in his Silo world. So do I rate the story as a short story or the first of a series? Because as a short story it is thought-provoking and as a series introduction, the world-building has huge holes unacceptable for the long-form.

Mr. Howey writes some pretty good short stories that make you think. A number of his stories available on Amazon show his like for this format. “Wool”, as a short story, follows a man mourning his wife and dealing with a post-apocalyptic world where everyone is locked in a buried multistory building with only a few windows to the outside world, which slowly get covered in grime. The story covers both the present day and the history leading to his wife’s death. Wool removes the grime and allows clear-seeing to how the world really is. “Wool” is a solid short story worthy of a good anthology or collection.

As the first of a series, “Wool” lacks a lot. The survival just doesn’t seem possible. To start, how does the central staircase survive? Diamond treads wear off in just a couple of decades, not the 200 plus years they have been inside and using this as a major thoroughfare. Yes, no weather – still humans produce a lot of water naturally. Moisture and rust and use would have killed this in the first 50 years. Second, where does the wool come from – or any of the cleaning products. A carbon suit? Argon? The digital screen? So much is just not possible. I don’t know if he resolved these issues in later books. Again, his original book was not aimed at being anything but a short story and short story worlds do not need to make complete sense. They need to get a reaction – and this story definitely achieves that.

But not enough, for me at least, to continue in this depressing post-apocalyptic world. I agree with the main character who says the children books with green and blue just speak to a person. You know those are the correct colors. I don’t want to read about a people locked in a buried tower without sunlight or hope. Although it would be interesting to see how they survive. How it changes what it means to be human.

Picked up while free on Kindle; using typical marketing model – first of a five book series, with the first book free.

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