Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Fiction Review: Wool

When several different close friends of mine, all in different cities, started telling me that I just had to read Wool, a post-apocalyptic novel by Hugh Howey, I figured it must be something pretty special. They were right. It’s been several weeks since I finished the novel, but as I sat down to write this review, I recalled how this unique and moving story immediately pulled me into a wholly different world.

As the novel opens, a man named Holston is apparently on his way to some sort of death sentence, walking to a holding cell and being prepared for a mysterious process called “cleaning.” He thinks back to when his beloved wife, Allison, went through the same preparations three years ago. Just why Holston and his wife Allison were both subject to this extreme punishment is not immediately obvious.

Gradually, in those first chapters, the reader learns that Holston and his wife were both residents of “the silo,” a huge underground column that goes down over 200 stories. The silo is a wholly self-sustaining world, with farms, water treatment, a power station, and even its own oil reserves. Holston is the sheriff of the silo, working up on the 1st floor, at the very top, where residents can “see” the outside world projected on the walls like giant windows, thanks to a series of cameras mounted outside.

The view outside is a bleak one, mostly browns and grays, with some sort of toxic pollution swirling on the deadly winds and the remnants of destroyed buildings in the far distance. The people have lived in the silo for many generations now, ever since the outside world became too toxic to support life. Life inside the silo is heavily regulated in order to maintain order in a confined space, but most people are content with the routines of their every day lives.

That’s all I will say about the plot because there are so many surprises to discover in this unusual world. Howey has created a wholly unique, captivating setting populated with multi-dimensional characters who feel real. Contrary to many post-apocalyptic stories, this one takes place far into the future, long after the apocalypse, in a community where people live peaceful, normal lives…though, of course, all is not quite as it seems.

Wool is engrossing right from the beginning, with gripping suspense that will have you flying through the 500+ pages. My husband and I both loved it and can’t wait to read the next two books (yes, it is now a trilogy!) Just describing it here makes me want to read it all over again. It’s difficult to explain just how wonderful this book is without giving away too much of the plot, so I guess I will just have to tell you what my friends told me: you have to read this book.

508 pages, Simon & Schuster

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


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  1. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Is this book also for kids?

    1. Though it was written for adults, Wool would definitely be appropriate for teens and young adults, and those who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels will probably like it a lot! I don't know about younger kids - it covers some pretty heavy topics, like people being put to death, and has a fair amount of violence.

      Thanks for asking - I should have mentioned that in my review!


    2. Thank you so much Sue. I really love the way you analyze a book in all your reviews. I've never really tried graphic novels/memoirs, but your reviews seem to make them out to be amazing. Do you think that I should try them?

    3. Thank you for the compliment! I work hard at writing my reviews, so I appreciate that.

      I had never tried graphic novels until recently but now I am really enjoying them!

      Here are a few graphic novels from the Kids/Teen Book blog:


      You can also click the graphic novel label in the right-hand column on this blog, though you'll have to check through them because adult ones and middle-grade/teen ones are all mixed in.

      I think you'd really like Raina Telgemeier's graphic memoirs - Drama (review in the link above), Smile, and Sisters (those last two were reviewed here). She writes about her own childhood, and the main character (her in middle school!) is about your age. Her books are fun and interesting but also in-depth like novels. Give one of those a try - you won't be sorry!


    4. Oh, and Flora and Ulysses (also at the link above) is another great way to start on graphic novels because it's a combination of a regular novel and a graphic novel - and it's by Kate DiCamillo who writes amazing books!

    5. Thank you. I think I will start graphic novels soon. Hopefully my library has some good ones!


  2. Wow, this sounds interesting and totally not would I expected from a title like "Wool" :) I will have to keep my eye out for it, I bet it's one my oldest son would enjoy too. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you join us again this weekend.

  3. I loved this book. It's one that has stayed with me, which doesn't happen often. I started with just the first "book" which is Holston's story. But then I had to buy the whole thing. I didn't realize there were now two more books as well.

    I've been trying to remember the specifics of the storyline to decide if I should pass it along to my 5th grader read. I think he'd like the overall story, but I can't remember if there were any adult themes. I don't think so. Just the violence, which isn't any worse than he's been exposed to in other novels.