Wool by Hugh Howey

After reading some older novels from favourite authors, I thought it was time to go to my bookshelf and pick up something newer. Wool is the novel that caught my eye. Hugh Howey wrote the story contained in Wool in instalments and self-published it before it was picked up by a publishing house. This release contains the first five Wool stories and is effectively a self-contained story, giving some intriguing and interesting plot elements that make it a book that always makes you want to read just one more chapter to find out what happens next, or what exactly the secret behind the Silo’s is…

woolWool has a simple premise: those that commit crimes inside the Silo are sent to clean the cameras that show the outside world. These cameras remind the inhabitants of how deadly the outside is, and if you go out to do the cleaning, you don’t come back. It’s a brutal system, but is effective at keeping order within the Silo. As the story progresses we see more of the Silo, how it works and who is in charge of the important aspects, and questions are raised at almost every step.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first part of Wool looks at Holston, the previous Sheriff of the Silo. He’s volunteered for cleaning, and once this is spoken it cannot be changed. This is the hook for the novel, and what it allows Howey to do is to show us the Silo and its inner workings through the eyes of someone that was in charge of its order, but who ultimately learnt secrets of previous uprisings and can no longer do his job. Add to the mix that his wife discovered much of these before volunteering herself, and you’ve got a story that makes you question many things that are presented, and all done with an emotional tone.

And this is only the beginning of Wool.

The main focus of Wool is Jules, an engineer from the lowest levels who is recommended by Holston to become the next Sheriff. As the Mayor and Deputy Sheriff make their way from the top levels all the way to Jules, we see much of the Silo, learning many aspects of its functioning as we go. Howey appears effortless in doing this, and is able to convey so much imagery within the pages.

It’s very difficult to say much more without getting into spoiler territory, so I won’t.

What I will say is that Howey is a storyteller, and the episodic format that Wool was initially released in allows him to add plenty of twists and turns to the story. He builds the revelations and suspense throughout and delivers what ultimately is a very readable novel. It’s one of those books that trickles information throughout the narrative and keeps on wanting you to go back for more.

I will say that despite all its positives, I came away unsure what to think. Yes, Howey has written a very interesting story, and done so very well, but…. Well, that’s the thing. I can’t put my finger on why it didn’t hit the right spot for me. Regardless of this, I’m very interested to see where he takes the story in the next novel, Shift.

2 thoughts on “Wool by Hugh Howey”

  1. I just started on part IV. I have truly enjoyed the stories … I say that because they read like short stories from the same world. Kind of like A Second Chance at Eden. They just do not gel into a novel especially the 1st part, but taken as seperate stories they are fantastic.

  2. I know what you mean about them feeling like short stories, but I thought the novel worked well presented as it was. It is episodic, but that means it breaks down nicely when reading it :)

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