Matt’s Reviews: Wool by Hugh Howey

book cover: Wool by Hugh Howey

  •   Publisher:          Simon & Schuster
  •   Published Date:  March 2013)
  •   Pages:                514
  •   ISBN-13:            978-1-4767-3511-5
  •   Author:              Hugh Howey

Wool By Hugh Howey is the first book in the Silo series.  Howey wrote Wool in his spare time in the mornings and lunch breaks while working as a book seller.  His self-published book caught on and became a New York Times best seller.  

As far as we can tell, humanity has been reduced to living inside a single underground silo that extends more than one hundred a fifty levels down into the ground.  The outside atmosphere is toxic, poisonous and corrosive to the extent that no one can survive outside for more than a few minutes, even in a protective suit.  The only view of the outside is from cameras that display on the upper level of the silo.   These wall-sized displays are at such high resolution that they almost appear as windows to the hostile outside environment. The highest offices in the silo are the mayor, who manages the coordination and running of the various groups, and the sheriff who enforces the laws.  One of the worst crimes a person can commit is to want to go outside the silo, and the punishment is being sent outside to clean the surface of the cameras that show that outside environment.  Due to the toxic environment, this is also a death sentence. When the long standing sheriff decides he wants to go outside to join his wife who died there 3 years before, the mayor and the deputy need to find a replacement sheriff.  This begins a series of events that will affect all levels of the silo. 

Howey creates a unique universe in Wool. It is a self-contained isolated environment and Howey creates not only the physical environment but explores the social relationships and legal regulations that might be needed in such an environment.  From population restrictions to farming technology to recycling of nearly everything, including corpses, it is a rich world populated with interesting characters.  Like the silo itself, there are many layers to the story and to the society in the story.  Howey keeps you guessing about the true nature of the society and the people within it.  Who can be trusted?  Who is deceiving?  What will happen next?  As answers start to surface on one layer, you realize there’s more layers underneath. 

This is the first book in a series.  While it leaves enough open questions and possibilities for future extensions of the story line, it is a complete story in itself.  I tend to avoid book series, especially those that are open ended in their story arcs.  Wool does a good job of combining an ending with enough resolution to be satisfying, but with enough unresolved to allow for future stories in the same universe.  I don’t feel a pressing need to return to this universe immediately, but  it is worth the read even if you don’t get around to the rest of the series.


For another outstanding self-published science fiction novel,

Try  Plastivore by Matt Truxaw

Book Cover: Plastivore by Matt Truxaw



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