Wool: World-Building Excellence

Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

Madeleine’s Score: Enjoyed it—would read it again
(4/5 cool points)

When one considers the origin of this book, that it began its life as a serial novel, it’s hard not to be impressed by it. Hugh Howey crafted an intriguing world that has the potential to span over numerous books (and it does). As a post-apocalyptic fan, I was incredibly curious about its secret origins and the wild setup of silos as mankind’s supposed last refuge.

Howey’s ability to keep me turning pages was similarly impressive, like when [MINOR SPOILER] Juliette is desperately trying to wade through dozens of corpses to get into a neighboring silo before her protective suit gives out,[END OF SPOILER] and I had to finish the scene before setting the book down. For the world and the forward movement of the plot, this book deserves some stars.

I did find myself questioning some aspects of this world, however. For example, how is there not a simple pulley system to move goods up and down the center of the silo? Those poor, miserable porters traversing 144 floors! I understand not having an elevator in order to maintain control over the inhabitants and to keep them from communicating too easily, and I realize that later in the series, the stairs serve an even more nefarious purpose. I just didn’t find it believable that a simple rope and pulley system stretching down through the center of the stairs for the single, approved purpose to move goods wouldn’t have been implemented. But I went with it.

Another aspect I struggled with was the romance (if one can call it that) between Juliette and Lukas. Yes, they’re both lonely (isn’t everyone in an oppressive, underground world?). And perhaps they’re both attractive. But “lonely” and “attractive” do not equate to a sweeping love story, much less over the length of just one book. Love stories have to be earned over time through repeated interactions between the two participants to be believable for me, and this one just wasn’t (please tell me it gets better over subsequent books). The reader doesn’t even get to see the majority of their conversations, which they had over the phone between their two silos over a period of time. Damn, because who doesn’t want to be enveloped in a passionate affair between star-crossed lovers in a post-apocalyptic dystopia? I know I do.

Wool was a fun read, the strongest feature of which for me was the world itself/the mystery of how it ended years prior. I’ll likely continue with the series.

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