by Hugh Howey
Simon & Schuster (2013)
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. (Amazon, 2017)
Characteristics of Sci Fi in this Book
Story: Wool is highly speculative. The characters have been placed in an untenable situation, living deep underground in a highly controlled society which is increasingly suspected to be based on false assumptions and manipulation.
Pacing: Novelist calls this fast-paced, but I disagree. The characters are deeply introspective and their internal struggle to understand their world and how it came to be what it is slows the pace to a more moderate level. It moves along enough to keep readers hooked, but not as fast as regular thrillers or adventures.
Setting: The story is set hundreds of years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world where humans are striving to survive in underground silos. It’s very detailed and technical, explaining how the communications and manipulations have been able to occur and how the technology is ultimately used in exposing the truth. The world-building is very realistic.
Tone: The tone of this book is rather dark and very compelling. It’s almost oppressive as we read about all the ways in which the protagonists are struggling. It has a very gray, cold feel, but with a ray of humanity and hope.
Style: The writing is very descriptive and strong. Jonathan Hayes (author of A Hard Death) describes it as “muscular”.
Characterization: Sheriff Holston and Juliette each face a very real moral crisis. The central “character” in the story is the challenge of an underground society and the ethical issues of centralized management and thought control.
Appeal terms: compelling, intense, adventurous, suspenseful, realistic, moderately paced
My husband is a huge sci fi fan and he discovered Wool very shortly after its initial publication as an omnibus edition. He insisted that I read it, and we were both hooked. We read the entire series, which, kind of like Ender’s Game, became more and more existential as the series progressed. Some of the characters are completely unlikable, and that makes it even more realistic. I’ve seen a number of book trailers, posters, and art work by some of the numerous fans of this fabulous book, and I can’t wait for the movie to be made!
Movie rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox and an adaptation is in the works with Ridley Scott (Alien) producing.
The book was originally self-published in separate short stories/novellas as Kindle shorts; popularity spurred its development into an omnibus collection of the first 5 original shorts into a novel which, in turn, became the first in the Silo series. It then got picked up by a major publishing house (Random House UK) and was recently re-released by Simon and Schuster.