Review: Wool; Hugh Howey

Mind-blowing (5 stars)

Source- borrowed from a friend (who would not stop raving about it….!)

Published by Arrow, this edition in April 2013

I read the paperback version, which is 576 pages

I’ve read some pretty crappy books so far in May, I have to admit. Some of which I’ve had to complete as they were for review. Gah. Hence my lack of ‘goodbookshelf’ blog posts lately. There just haven’t been all that many novels I’ve enjoyed and that I’d care to recommend, to be honest.

For me, Wool was like a breath of fresh air (which is sort of ironic when you consider its plot…!), an absorbing and engrossing read that totally sparked my interest and kept me turning the pages. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that it has restored my faith in humanity (read it and you will understand why…), but after some dud reads as of late, it has certainly restored my faith in good books again.

Thank you, Hugh Howey.

Praise aside, this book was made all the more compelling for me by the fact that my hopes weren’t altogether high when I began it, despite the gushy ravings from my friend whom I borrowed it from. The premise is intriguing, sure, but with an accolade on the front citing this as the ‘new Hunger Games…’ I must admit that I winced a bit.

I LOVE The Hunger Games. It seems like every dystopian/apocalyptic book released these days gets compared to it in some way though, and sometimes unfairly. Judge a book on its own merits, ferfuckssake… Thankfully, the only similarities that I can concede between Wool and THG is that they are both set in a dystopian future and that there’s a rebellion involved. Characters? Waaaay different. Audience? Waaaay different. Plot? Waaay different. Setting? Waa— well, you get the idea.

This is one of the most imaginative plots I’ve encountered in a very long time. The writing is terrific and the world-building truly remarkable. The pace never slows down with countless twists and turns and some brilliant little cliff-hangers. I remember reading once that a good book makes you forget about its author entirely- that it draws you in completely- and that was totally the case when I was reading Wool. I didn’t contemplate the mechanics or devices behind the storyline or how the author came up with all of his creative ideas- I was just solely taken along for the ride.

In a ruined future very different from our own, a vast community inhabits a giant underground silo, inhibited by strict rules and regulations. The air outside is toxic and the community can only witness a bleak and ruined landscape through the silo windows which are only cleaned on the few occasions when people are condemned to death and sent above-ground. No one challenges the laws of the silo and to even speak of the outside world or wonder what brought about these strange circumstances is forbidden; yet it only takes one person to challenge convention for all hell to break loose…

Wool is a wholly sensory reading experience. I felt a heightened sense of claustrophobia at times whilst immersed in it, yet not once did I consider not reading on. This novel provokes so many questions for the reader too: I wanted to know why these people were living underground and why the outside world had became such a taboo subject; it was truly fascinating. The silo is so well depicted that it becomes another character in the story in essence, I could imagine all the metal stairs spiralling downwards deeper into the earth and the different levels with all of their various functions- it was really well drawn and very well thought-out by the author. It was conflicting in a sense though- on one hand we have hundreds of people living underground in a tin can, pretty much, yet they are in a very technologically advanced society- managing to have electricity and grow their own food. At first I didn’t comprehend how this could even work, yet it just does, somehow. I found myself believing in it entirely.

Speaking of characters, the main protagonist in Wool is amazing. Juliette is feisty and brave and not afraid to take a stand against something she doesn’t agree with. Perhaps being a strong-willed female, like Katniss in THG, that’s where some of the inevitable comparisons to that are drawn from, but they are very different people. There was some sort of romantic suggestion between Juliette and one of the male characters (who is admittedly not as well-written), but I’m glad that this did not overshadow the plot, yet at the same time some facets to Juliette’s past are still unknown and I’m keen to see this explored in Wool’s sequel. Other characters too, are brilliantly realised, from Juliette’s friends and co-workers to the manipulative Bernard.

One aspect that I found really intriguing in this book is that life in the silo was the norm for its inhabitants. The people within it had to accept the life that they were living, as the alternative was just too terrible to comprehend. The idea that all it takes is one person to become a catalyst and rally against this notion was just beautifully done. Once a rebellion was in place, there was nothing to prevent it.

Full of secrets, lies, betrayal and tension, it is safe to say that Wool will undoubtedly be in my top reads of 2013. I wish I could go back and read it all over again for the very first time.

The book that I pick up next is unfortunately going to seem very dull in comparison to this one.

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4 responses to “Review: Wool; Hugh Howey

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  2. Pingback: Review: Shift; Hugh Howey | my good bookshelf·

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  4. Pingback: Review: Dust; Hugh Howey | my good bookshelf·

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