So I told you in my last blog that I was in the mood for sci-fi this summer…so here’s a little more! If you’re looking for some more mysterious post-apocalyptic fiction, something that’s a little different to the new Young-Adult-Dystopian-coming-of-age fashion, then I want to see what you think of Wool. I had intended to wait to review this until I had finished the Silo series, but since the second and third instalments haven’t turned up in the same charity shop where I found this one, I decided to stop waiting and just review the darned thing.
Set in some unknown future, the events of Wool take place in a Silo housing many, many people. We begin with the Sheriff as he makes his way up all the stairs in the Silo, contemplating the death of his wife and the birth lottery that occurs in the Silo to control population increase, to his office, where he declares to his deputy that he wants to go outside.
In the Silo to say that you want to go outside is a death sentence and results in you getting exactly what you ask for. Something in the air outside kills all those who go out to ‘clean’.
What follows is a search for the new sheriff, and the controversial decision to appoint the mechanic Juliette to the post is what propels the plot for the rest of the novel. It is a story of political intrigue, murder, mystery and revelation. Not necessarily what I expected going in.
Things I liked
- Juliette as a character is fantastic. She is neither perfect nor deliberately flawed. She isn’t a young girl struggling to find herself, she is a woman who has loved and lost, who has grown and worked hard and lived her life through all its difficulties. The way she talks and thinks is very personal. It’s obvious that Hugh Howey knows his characters well.
- The relationships between the characters, sometimes unexpected or unconventional.
- The clean and unassuming style. The narrative is not imposing – in third person and fully utilising the ability to leap between the minds of characters, Howey’s style and choices of character perspectives are fresh and perfectly controlled.
- The pacing. This is a bit of a weird one. Maybe if I wasn’t on holiday it might have seemed like a slow read, maybe not. As it was, I spent most of my time when reading this either on the beach or the sofa, and the novel walked along at exactly the right speed. While I did say that it was a story of political intrigue and murder, this is not a thriller novel, and therefore don’t expect it to race along page after page, cliffhanger by cliffhanger. It’s not like that. The pacing of this story is under constant control, giving you just enough information for you to get by and make your own guesses, but not enough for you to figure out where we’re heading. As a writer who struggles with pacing at the best of times, it was wonderful to see an example of great, steady, pacing.
- It passes the Bechdel Test. Yay!
Things I didn’t like
- Having said such nice things about pacing, it was perhaps a little bit long. However, I can say with some certainty that the only reason I feel that way is because I brought two other books on my holiday to read after this one, and didn’t start either because a) I took too long reading this one but more importantly b) because all I wanted to read when I was done was more of the same.
- I have to wait until I have money to read the second one… but I guess that’s not Hugh Howey’s fault…
Should I read this?
Yes, go for it. I’ve been in a couple of bookshops and overhead people asking for this, or the next instalment, but not nearly enough people know about this brilliantly constructed series. Besides, any book with the tagline ‘If the lies don’t kill you, the truth will‘ deserves your time. Right? Get on it, spiders! (Yes, anyone who reads this blog is now a spider)
Note: I read this in June, so there are some things I’ve forgotten. In trying to remind myself, I discovered that Wool is actually a collection of five short books released over several months in 2011, that it’s going to be made into a comic book, and the film rights have been bought by 20th century fox with director Ridley Scott expressing interest. So you guys had better get reading!
* * * * *
The Book Depository
You can buy the book here.
Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.