Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When the old sheriff of the Silo dies, Juliette, a Mechanic, is thrust into the role and quickly finds herself in over her head after asking the wrong questions. What will she discover when she's cast out of the Silo into the toxic world beyond and left for dead?
Yeah, that's not a great summary but there's a lot I don't want to spoil.
Since I've become more and more interested in the idea of Kindle publishing as of late, I decided to check out Wool, one of the juggernauts of self-publishing. While I heard the title (and thought it was stupid), I went in cold and was pleasantly surprised.
Wool takes place in a dystopian future where what's left of humanity lives in a Silo underground, levels upon levels of apartments, farms, mines, machinery, a self contained community. People who commit certain offenses are sent out to Clean, to clear the grit off the sensors providing the residents a view of the outside, before dying in the nuclear wasteland.
Juliette, the protagonist of parts 2-5, is a fantastic character. Her logical mind, honed from years of repairing ancient machines, quickly has her asking all sorts of questions about the history of the Silo and the possibility of life beyond. Her relationship with Lukas was believable and not at all sappy.
The book reminds me of old school science fiction, exploring ideas about control, conformity, and manipulation. When Juliette and company figure out what's been going on for two hundred years, the manure hits the windmill.
The writing was understated but still good. It's several notches above what you'd expect in a self-published book and probably a notch or two above some Big Six publishing house efforts lately. Is it deserving of the massive hype it gets? Probably not but it's still good. I think the "little guy done good" aspect of Howey's success gives it a little more punch in some people's eyes.
A few minor things bugged me, most related to pace and how readily some of the people revolted. Also, I wouldn't have minded a little more of Silo 17 in the epilogue. Still, it has some strong scenes in it. Juliette running out of air was a pretty powerful scene and will stick with me for a long time.
Wool should appeal to old school science fiction fans and dystopia fans alike. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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