Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-#5) by Hugh Howey


The sherriff of the Silo, Holston, has spent the last three years missing his wife. She was determined to see the outside. It couldn't be as bad as the pictures said, could it? Now, finally at wit's end, Holston has asked to leave the Silo, sure they'll meet on the outside.
With Holston outside the Silo, it's time to replace him. A mechanical, Juliette, is the surprising nomination, but before she can ascend the many levels to the top of the Silo, the people's lives get thrown into turmoil. The mayor is dead, and the next in line is Bernard, the smarmy IT director who never wanted Juliette as sherriff anyway.
Now Juliette finds herself facing the threat of going outside the Silo. Is she going to find Holston out there, or is the world just as deadly as everyone has always thought?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

With all the threats of human destruction and terrorism, and knowing that we've gone so far as to drop atomic bombs on one another before, it's interesting to think what backup plans humanity could develop to live for just one more generation. Howey addresses this with his Silo, a self-contained underground city complete with farms, mechanics, cafeterias, and government. Even better, he's chosen to set Wool at a time when people have been in the Silo for so long that it isn't new. It's the way life is. There wasn't life outside the Silo. Rare people wonder about the world outside. It's a brilliant setting, and Howey addresses a lot of the questions both we as outsiders and the characters living it have.

Howey has a very clear, almost simplistic style that really sets the stage for his work. Words serve the story, and he gives neither too much nor too little in description. He does excel at dialogue. The characters are very real and speak that way. Through their words and thoughts, he really gets the reader into his characters' heads, driving their actions. There was no need for him to make up a lot of strange machines or anything for his claustrophobic setting. It kept there from being a gap between what modern readers could relate to and what his characters consider everyday objects. This sort of thing could have easily gotten too strange and confusing. Howey avoided the potential for a trap of foreign creations.

My Thoughts
I was completely sucked into the setting and how people lived in this place. Uppers, Middies, and the Deep Down are different locations with different populations. Being one massive structure still creates divisions between people. There's economy and class, and it shows in how people perceive and interact with one another.
Sadly, Wool wasn't able to keep my intrigue once the newness wore off. The Omnibus is 5 individual stories that are linked, and it was about halfway through the fourth one that my interest really flagged. I did have to drag myself through the last third or so of the book, and I was glad once it was over. I did like how everything ended, so don't think there was a disappointing resolution. I just lost interest, and the book never seemed to want to pull it back. I think it might have been because the action started to split between a few different pods of characters, and there were too many of them that I just didn't really care about. The story did need it, but it didn't draw me in like it could have.

Would I Recommend This Book? Yes and no. I loved the setting Howey created, and the characters were true to human nature. It's a fantastic premise he's got, and there are tons of stories he can tell here. I adored a fair few of the characters (and hated a few that are worthy of it), but it wasn't enough to keep my interest high throughout. The writing, though, is excellent, and because of that, I give Wool Omnibus a heat-taped 4 of 5 stars.

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