97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2013
Life is good in the silo. The people are friendly, food is plentiful, healthcare is readily available when needed. Those in charge are democratically elected and take their office on the top floor. A skilled IT department keeps channels of communication open throughout. And the whole silo is kept ticking over by the engineers in Mechanical, deep in the belly of the Earth. Just one look at the screens projecting video images of the bleak, uninhabitable landscape outside, and the inhabitants of the silo know how good they've got it. There are always some crazy folk who question this from time to time. How did the silo get here? What exactly is out there, out of view of the lens? These ungrateful dissenters are punished by being cast out with a woolen cloth to clean the cameras so that everyone else can continue to enjoy the view - fated to certain death. But one day sheriff Holston, the sensible and much-respected warden of the silo, joins the dissident ranks and chooses to go outside. This sets in motion a chain of events that shake the foundations of the entire community.
Wool is actually an omnibus of five short stories that were originally published separately but you can barely see the joins. I can see how books one and two worked as standalone novellas, but by the time you hit book three everything merges seamlessly. And it's a good job, too, because had I been reading this at the time of publication I don't think I would have been able to bear sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happens in the next installment! He spins a hell of a yarn.
Howey has created such a unique and intricate setting in the silo. It's fascinating to have the whole world condensed into one single underground warren. He clearly has a good understanding of sociology and politics, and deftly illustrates both the physical and social hierarchies that exist between the different cliques of inhabitants.
I also particularly appreciated the effort put into characterisation. Howey flits between different points of view but each individual is so well-developed that I was reluctant to leave them behind when it came to the next chapter. So many favourites - Holston, heartbroken after the death of his wife. The wise Mayor Jahns. Feisty mechanic Juliette. Old Walker, the reclusive electrician who's a secret genius.
I'm so glad I picked this up as it's a really satisying tale to get tangled up in. I certainly feel that Wool deserves the great reviews it has received and would be enjoyed by many readers, even those who aren't usually attracted to sci-fi/dystopian fiction.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2012
The `Fallout' series of games has been a recent critical and financial success story with the past two games building on the legacy of the originals. They tell the story of a world destroyed by nuclear war and people who live underground in vast vaults. It appears on the surface (or in this case underground) that author Hugh Howey may be a fan of the games as his `Wool' series tells a similar tale. However, whilst `Fallout' allows the player to walk the radiated landscape, `Wool' is a far darker and dead world. This bleakness of setting is reflected in the story and characters themselves as Howey creates a dystopian Big Brother society underground.
What makes `Wool' such a great book is not the ideas as such, but how they are told. As an avid science fiction fan, underworld cities are not a new concept to me, but Howey does give the sub (terranean) genre a new lease of life via quality writing. His description of this claustrophobic world is brilliant, he does not tell the reader the details, but allows them to learn for themselves through the eyes of the characters. Howey is very adept at creating sympathetic characters, but is also not scared to write them out of the story if it is needed.
Set over 5 segments `Wool' follows different members of Silo 18 as they uncover the truths and untruths that surround them. This is a very real feeling world that is broken in a way that you can understand. To add even more praise to `Wool'; it is also a page turning thriller with some great set pieces. Howey does allow some naivety to creep into the narrative towards the end, but this is not enough to stop this from being one of the more gripping pieces of science fiction I have read this year.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I try to only give 5 to books I really feel are original, powerful, hard to put down, with well-written characters.
And yes, Wool is all of these things. I love the title, which takes on more than one meaning as the layers of the story are uncovered. I loved the gradual reveal of the truth of the lives the characters are living and the way I can picture the silo and the long, long walk from one end to the other. I love the way characters you were feeling strongly sympathetic towards were suddenly and brutally despatched.
But most of all, the story. Something has happened to our world. It must have done. A group of people are living in a 160-floor silo under the ground, have never left, work and rest and live within its confines. Segregated into sections within their own society, this group has classes - those closest to the top being the white collar classes, the mechanics keeping it all together being the 'working stiffs' in the depths.
Order must be maintained. And so every few years a dissenter/rule breaker is found guilty and sent out to 'clean' - clean the camera lenses that act as the only window on the world the silo inhabitants possess.
It is only after one such cleaning, of the silo's much respected widower Sheriff, that repressed feelings begin to bubble to the surface as a mechanic from the depths, Juliette, is offered the vacant post.
Very cinematic, you can picture the setting, the characters, clearly. It's a wonderful dystopian fiction that is frightening in the realism it contains: how this really COULD happen to us.
Juliette is a wonderful female role, an Ellen Ripley / Katniss Everdeen heroine, surrounded by a full complement of society's inhabitants. The book is long, but once you see more of the overall picture of Howey's, it's a story you relish will take 500 pages. And of course. It's a series, and ends on a note that leads you to want to follow the story further.
Don't be put off by the length, Wool is worth getting tangled up in.
72 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Wool has been an amazing experience, the book started out for me as one mans emotional turmoil in a desolate world. It then led me to see and then feel the inner workings of the power structure of the Silo. All of this was engaging as a story, but it wasnt until the screen was peeled back that you began to see and experience the true 1984 style control surrounding the lives of everyone in the silo.
The Silo is one huge air tight world, an organism that functions only as long as every part functions properly, as long as there is a back up ready to take its place or to fix a problem. Disease cannot be allowed to fester and ideas are a disease. This is a world of do your job, live your life and don't question the world at large. This is how the end of the world looks and it's a scary sight.
This story is high tension, high stress and a bloody scary look at humanity in a confined space. It's not a book I can say I loved, but its a book I can say made me think and think and think, its a book you experience as much as you read it. I would highly recommend this book to all readers
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2014
I have now finished the whole trilogy. Wool was found in a charity shop and from almost the first page I was hooked and couldn't put the book down. it is an imperative read for sci fi and dystopian fans.
In a post apocalyptic world , mankind has had to live underground as the outside world has become too toxic to support life,you will have to read the 3 books in order to find out how and why this has come about.. Home is an immense silo, with many levels and a huge winding staircase being the only access to each of them; there are no lifts! Ordinary people go about their lives as we would here on the surface; there are people who live and work "up top" in the "mids" or the "down deep". A visit to "Mechanical" in the "Down Deep" for example from the Cafeteria at the top would take more than a day to accomplish to give you an idea of how big this silo is.
These rather simplistic descriptions conjure up a real picture in the mind of the reader as to what it must be like to live and work in such a place. what is rather more sinister is the rules that these people live by, the Order and the Pact, and there are some who would question this and start to probe a little deeper into the silo's history.
It becomes clear to Jules, our Protagonist, that all is not what it seems, especially the mysterious "cleanings" that take place once in a while, and from which nobody ever returns. It is when the Silo's Sherriff Holston, is sent out to clean and Jules is called upon by the Mayor to fill his role and move up to the "up top" from her role in "Mechanical" that matters start to take a very sinister turn indeed.
I am not going to reveal any more of the plot, save to say that all the characters you will meet in this novel and very well drawn and thought out. There are truly poignant parts and plenty of suspense to keep you turning the pages, keeping you up well into the small hours and ensuring you will buy the next 2 books before you finish this one. I had no hesitation in rushing out to buy Shift and Dust new and read all three straight off.
I can quite honestly say that this is the best trilogy I have ever read, I can find nothing negative to say about any of it and it simply HAS to be on everyone's bucket list! I felt quite lost and bereft after I had finished it.
You MUST buy these books, and read them in order, Wool, Shift, Dust. Simply brilliant.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2014
Wool is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian tale set sometime in the future, when the remnants of humanity have been living for generations in a gigantic, self-contained underground complex (the Silo). Their only view of the outside world is a viewing screen on the top floor, showing a blasted and barren world, where the air is so poisonous that the people sent outside to clean the viewing cameras die within a matter of minutes. Being sent to cleaning is therefore the highest form of punishment for the worst criminals – including anyone who questions the status quo.
Wool was originally released as a series of e-novellas, and the paperback version is really an omnibus of these stories. I was unaware of this when I picked up the book, and while it does read as a novel rather than a collection, it does explain the somewhat disjointed feel of the book.
The book starts really strongly, with the first half introducing the world of the Silo, and some interesting characters and situations. There are plenty of twists and turns, some quite obvious, others which I really didn’t see coming! However, I did find some of the more interesting characters were killed off quite early on, while I found it hard to connect with the protagonist Juliette.
The fast pace of the first half does help to disguise the fact that there seem to be a lot of inconsistencies with the plot (some of which are explained in the subsequent novels, others – like the fact it takes two days to walk down the length of the Silo – seem to be more down to poor writing). Unfortunately, the action in the second half drags somewhat, and the shortcomings are more evident.
Still, I enjoyed Wool, I thought it was a great idea, and although the pacing and characters could have been improved, there was still plenty there to keep me intrigued. I would rate it as a 3 ½ star read, but have rounded it down as there were too many issues for it to merit 4 stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2013
"Silo" by Hugh Howey was originally written as Wool Omnibus that consist of five shorter stories and introduce reader to a different world after apocalyptic events happened caused by humans.
The remained human survivors live in great underground Silo that is a sort of prison due to people inability to exit to the outer world that is toxic, ruined and impossible to live in.
To be able to view outside world, cameras were installed and whenever they get dirty someone needs to clean them.
Due to toxic air, for this unpleasant task condemned criminals are those who are sacrificed to clean them.
For many years, the Silo was good home for remained people but slowly conflict will arise between daring young woman named Juliette unafraid of discovering Silo secrets and Sheriff Holston who has his reasons to keep things as they were for long time.
And with that conflict, future will be on stake, whether is the safety provided for long time more important to the survived people or they are in greater need of truth that can cause big problems...
This SF dystopian novel is a well-written and exciting read that is a real page turner.
Its action gradually develops and draws the reader deeper into the well designed bleak future world of humans.
Some (like me) can be disappointed with its ending given that it occurs too suddenly but that's the matter of liking.
Due to gradual development of the story, as it was originally written in five parts, one of two main characters Juliette will come a bit late in the novel, but she will soon steal the stage.
As character she has no problem becoming a central figure due to her personality traits and skills because of which reader can easily identify with her.
The same can be said for other main character, Sheriff Holston, who is also believable and multidimensional character.
"Silo" is an enjoyable read that can be recommended especially for fans of post apocalyptic literature and science fiction.
Due to that I can suggest you to read it together with its sequels, although this first part is certainly the best one in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"If the lies don't kill you, the truth will."
I'm not sure how to approach writing a review of this book. Too much information would give away clues to the story; or it could make it sound like a strange and odd experience. So, here goes: a society which has, for generation upon generation lived in a silo environment, driven deep down into the ground, with just the top part above ground. Here, they have lived, created, and managed for how many years? And this is the way of life they fight to preserve. Those who think there may be more to life must hide these thoughts, or risk being sent `outside'.
The silo environment is massive; over one hundred and forty levels, from government and political at the top, down through IT, the nurseries, to the agricultural levels, to manufacturing and mechanical, down, down, down to the mining levels. All food, water, electricity, resources, are all created and renewed inside this environment, where population is managed, and where those who die are given back to the cycle of life in the growing environments. But maybe, just maybe, every so often there is a current of unrest amongst some of the inhabitants, and this unrest is quashed and all evidence removed. Could that be possible? And could there be room for change in this existence?
I love the way this story builds, from introspection, to consideration, to snippets of revelation, to action. This is great stuff; can't wait for the next instalment in this series. Totally recommended for anyone who wants to read a great sci-fi/apocalyptic novel, with real characters, real depth and real emotion.
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Wool is set in an apocalyptic future. In a world smothered in toxic fumes we are introduced to the inhabitants of a silo which extends over a hundred storeys down into the earth. A world where people are divided into castes according to their occupations. A world where survival is dependent upon rigidly enforced discipline, where transgression is punished by being forced into the hostile external environment and a swift death.
Wool started life as a series of self published novellas, and it origins show in the episodic feel of the early chapters where we are introduced first to Sheriff Holston, and then to mayor Jahns, who strut and fret their hours upon the stage and then are heard no more. After their departures the rest of the book is given over to Juliette, a mechanical engineer in a world run by IT, and her literally star-crossed lover, Lukas.
As the novel progresses,the true nature of the world is slowly revealed as Juliette goes through a series of physical trials before finally confronting her blandly evil nemesis, the terrifyingly named........ Bernard.
There is much to be admired about Wool. It is an original concept (putting aside thoughts of HG Wells' molochs) and a well realised world. However, for me it somehow didn't really work. I think I can work out why it doesn't from one of the positive reviews. The Daily Express is quoted as saying that it is one of dystopian fiction's masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World. Therein lies the problem. Those works were, like all great speculative fiction, like Philip K Dick, allegorical, using a world of fantasy to comment on contemporary society, or on some facet of human nature.
Wool doesn't do that. It is purely a work of world building, and as such, needs to stand on its own. Seen through that lens, the holes start to appear. The physical environment is 130 storeys deep. Lets say what,12ft a tier, thats 1560ft. Why does its take days to walk up or down ? Why just one staircase? Why are the farms so far from the surface? Why are there no lifts? The closer one looks, the less coherent the narrative becomes, and above all, one question, everybody ejected for crimes dutifully cleans the sensors which enable the inhabitants to see outside, before dying. WHY? The explanation given doesn't make any sense. Which is problematic for something so central to the plot.
The writing style didn't engage me either. First it needs a damn good editor, there is just too much mundane detail. Secondly the narrative switches between different observers, with virtually every one ending on a cliffhanger. Eventually that destroys rather than creating tension. Thirdly Juliette's adventures get repetitive. She does something dangerous. Initially all goes well. Then something goes wrong. Then by superhuman effort she gets out of it. Finally, the slow reveal of what is going on didn't create any tension for me. I just found myself thinking, "Oh for goodness sake explain your scenario, then get on with the story.
So, its ok. It's not a light read, it's fairly grim, there are some interesting ideas, but it could do with being more coherent, and with moving more quickly. In the end its a bit of a shaggy dog story, a lot of repetitive detail, but not quite worth the pay off in the end. It's definitely not 1984 or Brave New World, more like Logans Run written with vague memories of having read Lord of the Flies at school.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2013
In a post apocalyptic future (what, another one?) all that is left of human life is one deep silo, with mechanics at the bottom and IT on top. And then the camera pulls back.
The plot focus is mainly on the sheriff, and his subsequent replacement, and it's impossible to talk too much about what happens to each of them without dropping in major plot spoilers. There are plenty of twists, and the first short story alone is probably worth the admission price, telling you one thing, then another, then another, quite beautifully.
Unfortunately the five stories don't really work as a novel. I think the author had a great premise, some very good character sketches, and a setting with lots of options. For the novel, I think he should have rewritten from the ground up, (silo pun not intended) so he could give the characters more room to breathe and reorder things somewhat. The characters are very simplistic, they are heroes and villains, who occasionally switch sides like WWF wrestlers. The first part, which works as a great short story, gives too much away too soon for a novel.
Overall, the book scrapes faint pass marks as it is a very enjoyable dystopia, if such a thing can exist. There is room for a sequel and it will be interesting to see what the author does when he knows he's writing a novel from the start.