Wool – Hugh Howey

wool“In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo. Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies. To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside. Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.”

Wool was delivered to me as a beautiful set of monochrome and neon proofs, each slightly bigger than the last. Together, they consisted a gripping dystopian vision, a world where the atmosphere is lethal and the dwindling population has been forced underground, to live in a silo. Power, food, water, shelter – all is provided with its narrow walls. Everyone has a different role to play, but they also must all do one thing: never talk about the outside. To discuss the ravaged world they have left behind – the only view of which they have through video cameras – is to provide themselves with a one-way ticket to outside, and, ultimately, death. This is referred to as ‘cleaning’, for those unlucky enough to be sent outside are given one last task: to maintain the video cameras before they succumb to the poisonous fumes.

At the beginning of this series of novellas, everyone inside the silo, who work together like cogs to keep everything running smoothly, are all happy – until the death of their beloved sheriff, Holston. He has been struggling since the cleaning of his beloved wife, Allison, three years previously, and he finally requests to go outside to join her in death. But his passing causes the delicate thread that has been holding the silo together to snap. The recruitment of a new sheriff, Jules Nichols, results in death, civil war, and, ultimately, the discovery of a horrible truth – that theirs is not the only silo in the world…

Through five separate stories that are cohesive and seamlessly put together, we see Jules try to unravel the wool that has been pulled over the silo inhabitants’ eyes for so long. Jules is condemned to a cleaning, an action which prompts her supporters to commence war throughout the 100 underground floors of the silo – but her mechanical expertise ensures that the suit she is sent outside in is strong enough to protect her from the air’s toxicity. The previous cleaners’ suit have been intentionally and poorly manufactured to ensure that none of them ever reached any of the other silos before they met their death – but Jules’ suit holds together for her to see the truth: that there are other silos, just like hers, out there, and other people, just like her, inside them.

As Jules reaches the next, identikit , silo, she is insure of what will be inside. Will the air have leaked inside and killed everyone – or will she find new life? And can she make it back to her previous home to reveal the secret that countless others have sacrificed much to keep, before the war that is being waged destroys everyone she knows and loves?

Wool is a gripping, post-acolpytic dystopian pentalogy. Howey uses excellent characterisation and builds up the pace of the story slowly but carefully, to create a suspense-filled read and explosive denouement. An epic dystopian tale, masterfully written.

Many thanks to Century for the review copy.

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2 thoughts on “Wool – Hugh Howey

  1. Redhead says:

    I keep hearing how wonderful Wool is, but I think this is the review that’s gonna make me go out and get the book, WOW! I’ve run into the idea before of futuristic isolated communities where someone finds out there are other communities out there, it’s nice to see a new twist on it.

    • keepcalmandreadabook says:

      I’m really pleased my review has prompted you to read it – let me know what you think! The idea reminded me of Exodus by Julie Bertagna which I read when I was younger and loved, so I knew this would be right up my street 🙂

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