Review: Wool, Hugh Howey

November 15, 2013 Reviews 3 ★★★★

Review: Wool, Hugh HoweyWool by Hugh Howey
Series: Silo #1
Published by Arrow Books on 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 537
Source: My copy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.


“Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.”

Warning: This is an addictive read.

I initially felt daunted by the large 500 plus page volume sitting on my shelf, especially because I had so many other books to review. I turned to the first page and read, “The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death…” and that was it. I was sucked in. When I looked again, I was on page 300.

Wool takes you to a devastated, uninhabitable, dystopian world, where the very air you breathe will kill you. The few survivors live in underground silos and follow very stringent social and political rules. There is no room for freethinkers; there is no tolerance for curiosity.

We are introduced to Holston, the silo’s sheriff, as he decides to follow his wife to ‘the outside’ and to certain death. Part one of Wool concentrates almost exclusively on Holston and I found this section of the book to be the most successful. I know Hugh Howey wrote this as a short story and it is enthralling from beginning to end. Despite knowing Holston’s fate from the onset, you still hope for a positive outcome, but it inevitably leads to the bleakness of the truth.

The focus then shifts to a strong-willed and fiercely independent mechanic, Juliette, who is chosen as Holston’s successor. It doesn’t take long for Juliette to discover some shocking silo secrets, knowledge of which will ultimately send her to ‘clean’ the outside camera lens – a death sentence in silo terms.

This is a completely gripping and engaging novel. There is always some action taking place, some secret being uncovered. And what makes it so terrifying is that this could be a plausible future for humankind.

The biggest let down, and the reason Wool didn’t get 5 stars, was the romantic interest. Call me unromantic, but I don’t quite understand why Lukas is so distraught over Juliette. He sobs for days and he knew her for like 2 seconds. I could buy him being outraged and indignant, but come on, grow a pair! I was frustrated by his inaction too; he could have helped the revolution in some way surely? Perhaps I expect too much from my heroes.

The film rights have been acquired by 20th Century Fox, with Ridley Scott expressing an interest in the adaptation. So read it before it hits the silver screen.

four-stars – Prepare for addiction

Natasha lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son. She is a self confessed bibliophile who enjoys literature and adult fiction. She also loves travelling and aims to visit 40 countries by the time she is 40 (current count 36).

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