Wool by Hugh Howey tells a post-apocalyptic tale like none that I’ve ever read. I give it a definite star for originality and great storytelling.
The setting is planet earth, many years in the future, after the human race has destroyed 99% of itself. All that remains are the inhabitants of a huge underground silo that has been designed to sustain a city of people indefinitely. One window, on the top floor of the silo, looks out at the toxic wasteland that was once earth. If a resident from within the silo breaks certain rules, their punishment is a death sentence, carried out by forcing them to go outside of the silo and clean the window with a pad of wool. After they carry out the cleaning, there is no escaping death from the poisonous atmosphere. The story takes place in these two extreme worlds; the silo representing life, the outside is certain death.
Howey first wrote Wool as a short story. It met with great success and was soon expanded and released in 5 parts over a six month period. The entire story is called The Omnibus Edition. That’s what I’m reviewing here today.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Wool. Howey has a way of describing personal and environmental details that made every scene suspenseful. His skillful storytelling skills kept me reading even through the only thing about Wool I did not like. The second act got a little long and plodding. Half that scene could have been edited out and no one would have noticed. I can forgive scene two, however, because every moment before and after that were edge-of-the-seat incredible. The real star of the book, Juliett takes over in act 3 and so does the story. I won’t give away any details, because that would ruin half the fun. This book is one of the few I’ve read where I constantly had no clue what would happen next, and I loved it.
I will only give a hint of what to expect in Wool by bringing up the recent movie, Gravity. I saw it in theatres a few months ago, having read Wool a few months before that. As I watched the incredible ordeal that Sandra Bullock’s character was going through in space, I was reminded of some of the scenes Wool’s main character, Juliett experienced, so vividly described to us by Hugh Howey . I am not suggesting that Gravity had anything to do with Wool. The settings of the two stories could not have been farther apart. I’m only suggesting that Juliet’s story in Wool was no less terrifyingly wonderful than Sanda Bullock’s ordeal in Gravity.
The only content concerns in Wool are a few minor cuss words. I recommend the book for teen audiences and above, mostly because some scenes may be too intense for younger readers, plus they may not understand or appreciate the science involved.