Book Review: Wool by Hugh Howey


Title: Wool by Hugh Howey
Publisher: Simon Schuster 
Publication Date: March 2013
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.


The Wool Omnibus started as a self-published novel on Amazon, and only after it’s success was it picked up by a traditional publisher. You can listen to more about that here (youtube).

The opening of Wool grabs you right away. Sheriff Holston knows he’s going to die, has in fact asked for it, but against all odds is hopeful he may somehow find his lost love and survive. You feel sorry for him, and wonder if he may not make it after all. It’s enough to get you invested in the story straight away, if only to see if he is right.

Mayor Jahns is a friend of Hoslton’s and an ageing woman who only hopes to usher in a new era once she’s gone. She has one person in mind, and must make the ardous journey to the depths of the silo to convince her chosen candidate to accept her offer. Juliette never asked to be in a position of power, and when it is thrust upon her she takes to it the only way she knows how – giving it her complete dedication. With a silo on the brink of an uprising, Juliette learns more than she bargained for and is essentially faced with the same choice that plagued Holston. The antagonist is someone you dislike from the get go and want to see fail. I loved Juliette as a main character. She was fiesty, determined, and smart.

The claustrophobic setting of the silo is ingenious. It provides and underlying tension to each of the character’s actions and affects the way they view their world – both inside and out. The rising conflict within the silo, and a mysterious connection outside of it, are enough to keep you turning the pages. It’s also believable – if anyone is likely to survive the end of the world, why wouldn’t they be underground? And why wouldn’t they want to get out?

The plot hums along nicely, with enough questions raised early on to keep you guessing. The ending was fantastic, providing closure to the main storyline while leaving enough open to lead into the next book – Shift. A review for that book will be coming soon 😉


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